England will be determined to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but first they have to get there.
There has been an inquest into England’s failings this week, with a particular focus on the number of foreign players in the Premier League.
New FA chairman Greg Dyke said nobody “realistically thinks” England will win next year’s tournament, while manager Roy Hodgson “very much doubts” his side are at the top of any bookmakers’ lists.
The experienced boss is spot on. BetVictor, for instance, have England at 25/1 to bring the World Cup home, the same odds as Columbia (odds subject to change).
Despite all the negativity surrounding the national team at the moment, the fans will still expect and the players will still be under the same pressure as those who have gone before them.
Before they can even think about Brazil, they need to qualify. As of the morning of Friday September 6th, England sit two points behind Group H leaders Montenegro with a game in hand so their fate is in their own hands. Crucially, three of the four remaining games are at Wembley. Hodgson’s side should progress.
If they do book their World Cup place, they will have to improve on their qualification performances so far and remain relatively injury-free if they are to have any kind of impact.
England are short of quality and experience at the back with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry both retired, while there are also concerns about depth at the other end of the field. Wayne Rooney’s latest injury has highlighted England’s striking problem.
Hodgson has quality in midfield in Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere, with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain providing wing threats.
England have shown they can compete with the best, a win and a draw against Brazil this year testament to that. However, they need to be able to deliver performances when it matters.