So England have made it to the Brazil World Cup in 2014 without the agony of a playoff, which could have been against a pretty decent team, maybe even France. Oh God, the thought of that would have been too much to contemplate! Anyway, worries over, we’re in on the party and can start dreaming of an unlikely triumph… until the first group game.
England were in a very average qualifying group: Ukraine, Poland, Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino. They made very heavy weather of it and until the last two games, had only beaten Moldova and San Marino. But over the past five days they’ve beaten Montenegro 4-1 and Poland 2-0, and done so with some good attacking style. As they say, you can only play what’s in front of you. They’ve done that, done the business and can now look forward to Brazil.
So, instead of moaning about the lack of English players in the Premier League, the dearth of coaches compared with Spain, the inability to pass to players with the same shirt when the going gets tough, why don’t we look at the positives?
1. Wayne Rooney seems to be back to his best in an England shirt.
2. No-one seems to be questioning whether Frank Lampard and Stevie Gerrard can play together in midfield anymore. Better late than never.
3. Leighton Baines looks so good at left back that Ashley Cole isn’t missed.
4. Suddenly there seems to be an influx of exciting young players who can handle it at the top level. Andros Townsend on the right wing was at QPR on loan last season and still hasn’t won the hearts of Spurs fans – witness the vitriol on BBC’s 606 talk show after the 3-0 defeat to West Ham – but here he is ripping up that right side with extreme pace and daring, passing the ball better than Theo Walcott usually does and shooting with venom. Ross Barkley of Everton looks the real deal, and people are now getting excited about West Ham’s Ravel Morrison, who starred for the U-21s tonight. Upfront, Sturridge and Wellbeck look lively. And we musn’t forget Zaha, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and, of course, Jack Wilshere. The great thing is that all our hopes are not now focused on Wilshere, which should give him time to recover fully from injury and develop at his natural pace.
5. The defence didn’t fall apart as soon as anyone ran at them.
6. Joe Hart played well in goal. Get off his back people!
7. Manager Roy Hodgson showed that he can be flexible tactically and isn’t wedded to the traditional English 4-4-2. Not that there’s no place for a 4-4-2. Most teams revert to something like it when they are chasing a game.
8. In fact Roy has vindicated the FA’s choice of him over Harry Redknapp. His international CV now looks like a plus.
Reasons to be cheerful! We can now start to imagine valiant progress through the group stage after a slow start. A dodgy escape in the last 16. An unprecedented win on penalties in the quarters against Portugal (if they qualify), a titanic battle against Germany in the semis, sneaking through with a last minute goal by Ravel Morrison, after a flick-on by Andy Carroll; and then in the Maracana, a stunning 4-3 victory over Brazil in the Final, even though Rooney is sent off for elbowing Neymar in the 75th minute. An Andy Carroll hat-trick makes him the second West Ham striker to win the World Cup for England!……
Zzzzzzz…..er, I think I just dozed off there and started to dream.
Oh well, now is the time for the dreams, before reality kicks in.
Spain to beat Argentina in the final?