Sunday, 10 June 2012

Purpose , Performance , and Pride

England go into another tournament wondering whether this would be the year it relaunches itself back into the big time . For a premier footballing nation like this not to have won any major tournament in international football , not even the  age grade versions , since 1966 is a pretty pathetic state of affairs.
On the eve of EURO 2012 , we are left wondering still : is this England team  good enough to break that jinx;  has there been any empirical evidence this current team is any better than what we had at the world cup in South Africa in 2010 ? almost certainly no . A new manager in Roy Hodgson after Fabio Capello only succeeded in treading water in his three and a half year tenure . It is fair to  say we are right back to square one . It won't be reasonable to expect , or demand a tournament victory from a manager and group of players who have only been together for under a month ; with injuries , and a significant suspension to Wayne Rooney. That is the setting for this tournament as far as England is concerned - not a great deal of optimism 

OVERVIEW :  Grouped with France , Sweden , and co-hosts Ukraine , you won't  call that an onerous group , but England's destiny in the group stage will be linked to the game against the French , on june11th in Donetsk . A defeat must be avoided , a win shall almost certainly see England taking more points from the Sweden and Ukraine games to get into the knock out stages . I reckon this shall be an open group -one where teams potentially could beat one another . Ultimately my money is on two out of  England , France , and Sweden to progress. If England fail to make it through the group stages,  that will represent an embarrassment for everyone connected with English Foot ball . I believe we'll be spared such a scenario though......

APPROACH :  This is the crux of the matter ! What sort of approach would England have ? what's the mentality and mind set Roy Hodgson has infused ?  the answer to these issues can be decoded from the tactical approach the Manager adopts .  I expect he would make England structured , and stable . That alone gets you no where.... There has to be a synergy of  a tactical approach and a performance of high standard that underlines purpose . If  players are drilled with a mentality to win , they transform tactics into success . That we shall decipher from the game against france . If  England  go into that game lacking in confidence , they probably would lose . The French will sniff it , and go for the kill . It is vital we do not have ponderous players lacking in know how. England must be dynamic against France . Win or lose , the performance will have more of a bearing on the future .

KEY :  as said , England will be structured - i saw that from the last friendly against Belgium .  My fear is  the mid-field where i really do not rate most of the personnel that operate . I expect the manager to go for the quartet of  WALCOTT and Downning on the Flanks , then Gerrard and Parker in the middle.  Against France , ball retention , and distribution is key - allied with structure and shape. Can the players be technically proficient to execute that task ? In addition , the delivery system , as well as midfielders being able to breach the French back line with unexpected runs would be telling . France would have an expectation of how England will perform - England have to surprise them . Gerrard's ability to be measured and impose himself in midfield to keep England ticking is key. Parker is sterile , and redundant in possession .That implies the England captain has his work cut-out in mid-field where the French will be very good . Ashley Young has to be creative  and  skillful.  . Solidity and creativity must interlocked .

PROGNOSIS :  My fear is England rarely mix it well enough in tournaments , hence the patchy record . Performances tend  to be disjointed  and lacking in character and conviction . Too often , we rely on individuals to make up for the lack of a coherent team play approach .  I have not seen a better England tournament performance since the loss to Germany in the semi-finals of Italia 90 .  By rational or subjective disposition , i cannot  feel it's going to be the UREKA tournament for England !!! . If it is going to be , the approach must be outstanding. I am waiting to be pleasantly surprised . The first step to it will be the look in the eyes of the players when they take the field..... would it be burning with the desire of purpose , a performance , and  show of pride ? it's been a long wait since 1966 .