The World Cup -What would be a “good result” for England?

Russia 2018

Following England at the World cup over the course of my lifetime has been nothing but frustration, pain and disappointment. With the national team on something of a decline, and arguably devoid of any of the World Class players we used to have, the 2018 World Cup has England fans in a mixed frame of mind. In the likes of 1998, 2002 and even 2006, anything short of winning the whole tournament would have been a let down. But what actually constitutes success and failure in the 2018 version?

Obviously, not making it out of the group would be a disaster, Last time around, we had a dicey group and could be partially forgiven for not making the knockout stages. This time however, a failure to progress would surely mean the end of the Southgate era. Belgium provide tricky opposition, and despite being on a 17 match unbeaten run, England should not fear a side who have yet to prove themselves on the biggest of stages. Tunisia and Panama, you would expect without an disrespect, are not on the same playing field as England and anything sort of convincing wins would be a cause for concern.

Then that would leave England in the last 16 possibly with meetings against Senegal, Poland or Colombia (or  Japan if they can cause a surprise). Again, none of these are opposition England should fear, Colombia are not the team that they once were and Poland are something of a one man team. Again, whatever your feelings are on England, you have to believe that, when you look at the teams here, an exit at the Last 16 stage is also something that must be considered a failure. Even if Southgate is “planning for the future”, and I do believe in giving managers a chance, there has to be a line drawn and if he can’t manage this out of the group and past the 4 teams  that are an option in the Last 16, then time for a change.

The Quarter final must be considered  a success. Being one of the Top 8 in the world, and in with the likes of the teams who will be in is a result. A valiant loss to one of the big boys is nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone who reaches the World Cup Quarter Final is a quality side. The Semi Final would be something England have not done for 28 years, and a Final appearance….well, let us not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Either way, this should be a very interesting Summer and with a likeable collection of young, hungry players, playing a likeable style of football, I am sure the nation will be behind the team. What will happen? It is too hard to tell but I for one have a certain degree of optimism that this could be a very happy summer and we may hear those three lions roaring once again. One thing that will happen…..is drama!

England at the 2018 World Cup

In my life time of watching football, I am used to pundits, fans and the press hyping up the England teams chances of excelling at a major tournament. But this time around things are different….with new players, a new manager and a long term plan seemingly in place, there is a feeling this World Cup is a stepping stone to greater things. But I assure you not one fan, player or management staff will be thinking that come the big day….just how will England do?

Despite the relative inexperience of the players and manager, England breezed through the qualifiers and whilst never being outstanding, rarely looked troubled. It is the same old story you may say, but the qualifiers can give you a hint. England struggled in the run up games to Euro 2016 and looked vulnerable at times, but not in this campaign.

Gareth Southgate has been to the big tournaments in the modern era and understands what they are all about. The little touches he will bring, as a man of experience, may be the difference in keeping the squad focused. He has quietly built his own system, introduced his own players and got a team functioning as a team. The criticism always levelled at the previous “Golden era” was that we have a collection of individuals rather than a unit….that can no longer.

The wing back system Southgate seems to favour, is one that will be unique in the tournament. Southgate saw that system function superbly under Glenn Hoddle and seems to be set on imitating it. Opposition may not be used to such a style and we say indeed see it work to England’s advantage. The core of the defence remains strong, the wing backs we have offer great potential both defensively and going forward and the system is very flexible.

Even the most pessimistic England fan must sense qualification is likely. Tunisia and Panama are weak sides, and lack the quality and experience to frustrate England for long. The Belgium game will be key and that will tell us all we need to know. Playing against a team unbeaten in 17 matches, with world class players in every position on the big stage will test any team. A victory in that match may allow England to dream big! That will get the nation dreaming and probably thinking about having a flutter perhaps even on NetBet Sport World Cup Betting.

Should the group stage prove passable, Senegal and  Colombia await in the Last 16, both of which England would start as favourites. If that occurs and England earn a Quarter final berth, then that will be mission accomplished for Southgate and company. Anything before the Quarter Finals will be labelled a disappointment, anything after it will be an over achievement.

With Kane, Ali, Sterling and co, along with a solid defence and a dependable set of goalkeepers, any of the opposition who England may face in the latter stages would have to take them as a serious threat.

Will going into a tournament without the hype, as something of an underdog, help the team achieve? Only time will tell

If you have a little time on your hands in the build up then why not check out our England or  World Cup Quiz

Roy Hodgson Quick Question

So, Roy Hodgson takes charge of England for the first time this weekend as the Three Lions take on Norway in Oslo.

Of the 23-man squad Hodgson has selected for Euro 2012, how many players has he managed previously at club level?

Answer: Three (Glen Johnson, Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard). Andy Carroll was signed by Liverpool after Hodgson left and no players from his time at Fulham, West Brom or Blackburn are included.

England  Football Quiz
England Football Quiz