As the many fan's across the nation absconded from their TV screens after the devastating loss to Italy, the question on many peoples minds was, what if? What if we had unearthed some of our young talent throughout the tournament, what if Hodgson had made the bold move of substituting our much talked about talisman, Wayne Rooney, who lets be honest was poor throughout last night.
As the game started, many of us were fearing the worst. Italy were dominating possession and nearly went a goal up with a, fantastic volley from Daniele De Rossi, only to be denied by the woodwork. However despite the early scare, England recovered fantastically. We began to show the whole of Europe that we can play attractive football. Glen Johnson and James Milner combined very well down the right hand side, drawing viewers at home out of their seats, in the end Johnson was denied by a Buffon save. Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney also replicated their Manchester United form, with some great link-up play, with Welbeck spurning his chance wide.
This however proved to be our downfall. The high intensity football we played in the first thirty minutes, came back to haunt us. From then on, we looked lacklustre, we toiled and toiled. The high intensity start drained the energy from us. For the remainder of the game, we were left chasing shadows. We found it hard to nullify the threat of Pirlo, who unlocked our defence on many occasions. This loss beggared the question, is it time for change? Yes, John Terry put in a competent performance in the heart of the defence, yes Scott Parker wore his heart on his sleeve, yes Steven Gerrard has been our stand out player at the tournament. John Terry, a player I rate very highly, was beaten for pace on too many occasions throughout the Euro's. Scott Parker, who's passion I will never question, has wasted the ball far too many times.
That brings us onto Steven Gerrard, our star player of the tournament. There is no doubt that he has been our shining light, nevertheless he just does not have the required fitness to play in that box-to-box role. Therefore I would love to see him playing in that deeper role, replicating what Pirlo does so well. If he is indeed reverted to this role, we would certainly need to retain possession a lot better. He needs to be dictating play, he just does not have the fitness to be chasing the ball constantly.
Lets not get away from the fact, that our next competitive tournament is in two years. These three players will all be 34. Their ability will decrease in that time period. Will they play in Brazil? If not, what is the point in them taking part in the qualifiers? If Roy Hodgson takes this stance, this would be the perfect opportunity to build a solid platform for the future. We have young, hungry players like: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian, Martin Kelly, Daniel Sturridge, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere. These players all play at established Premier League clubs. They are used to the pressure and the demands of the game.
Although we should not pin our hopes on Jack Wilshere. He has had numerous amounts of injury setbacks, will he ever be the same player he was? Only time will tell. This is why we should follow in the footsteps of Germany. In the past four major tournaments they have entered they have reached beyond the quater-finals. Quite an achievement alone really, but what makes it even more special is they have allowed their young stars to grasp their chance. In the 2006 World Cup, Lukas Podolski , 21 at the time scored three goals, remarkable really. Bastian Schweinsteiger was also 21 at the time, he scored two goals. It is evidently clear what exceptional talents these two players have become.
Lets also not forget about Phillip Lahm, also 21, he opened the scoring in 2006 with a brilliant shot. Two years later they came runners up in Euro 2008, again the three players listed made a huge impact. That brings us on to 2010, which I am sure is still very much in the minds of England fans. Muller, Ozil and Khedira rose to prominence during this time. They were ruthless, not only with England but with Australia and Ghana.
Yet again, in the current, Euro's they are continuing their philosophy of bringing through youth: Badstuber, Hummels and Reus. They have all starred so far, they may even enhance their reputations further as the tournament goes on. If we do follow this path, it will be a brave and courageous move by Hodgson. It is not guaranteed success but Germany have showed, blending in youth can get you far in tournaments.
The fans would also have to believe in Hodgson's idea, they would need to accept that success is not going to happen over night. It is a foundation for the future of our National team. Then, who knows? Our dreams of winning a major competition may finally come true, in the coming years.