ANALYSIS Since securing the World Cup trophy in 1966, England have only come close to winning a major tournament twice – in 1990 at the World Cup, and in 1996 during the European Championships. On both times, they were knocked out by Germany during a penalty shoot out at the semi final stage. Arguably on those occasions they could have gone on to win each title, especially in 1996 when they were playing like no one else on earth.
So, the debacle at Brazil 2014, after the disastrous performances in the European Championships where England never convinced anyone on their way to being evicted in the Quarter Finals, have opened up a painful inquisition as what has gone wrong with the national side. Harry Redknapp who was most people’s choice to coach a side badly needing inspiration said that some players sick of the media stick did not want to play for England and asked him when he was boss of Spurs how they could get out. Graham Taylor, who was infamously dubbed turnip head by The Sun when he was national coach, has backed Redknapp’s comments, saying this was nothing new. You only have to look at the sight of Steven Gerrard facing the media over his future to get an idea of what type of pressure England’s highly paid but badly floundering ‘stars’ have to go through every time there’s a major tournament. Like Wayne Rooney, the England captain was once tipped for greatness to be a Ronaldo or Messi, sadly they are neither, just plain overrated – products of a system that nourishes and encourages mediocrity, a system where any one who shines at the beginning is gradually ground down by the English way of doing things, an approach that has long been left behind on the European continent by nations such as Spain, Germany and France.
If England are ever to bring home a trophy again, then there will need to be a realistic appraisal of their chances by everyone who makes the decisions and by those who report and cover the national side.
Of course, there needs to be changes at grassroots – but that will take a long time and if those changes are implemented the results will not be immediate.
At the heart of the country’s failure on the football field is the English FA whose decisions are always at odds with the general consensus amongst the British public.
Trouble is they have kept getting it wrong from the moment Terry Venables walked off the field after England’s exit from Euro 1996. They may have been able to get away with ignoring the clamour to make Brian Clough the head coach before, but today the national side is suffering after a series of disastrous decisions over the last eighteen years. Unfortunately, the latest decision to keep Roy Hodgson as the coach despite the fact that he’s clearly not up to the job means England’s long suffering fans will have to endure many more years of failure – certainly well beyond the World Cup in Qatar 2022.
All of which poses the question no one wants to face up to – are England finished as a football force?
Sadly, the way things stand at this moment the answer to that stark question has to be – YES.