England are not world class. Let's face it, for at least the forseeable future, we will not challenge the world elite. Germany have set themselves up for a bright future, even if they fell at the second-to-last hurdle in the Euro Championships this year. They have looked to youth, to Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and to an extent, Manuel Neuer. Italy have also looked to youth in Mario Balotelli and to wise old heads like Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon. Spain have managed to reach a major final without stalwart Carles Puyol and marksman David Villa and generally without playing a striker. So where have England gone wrong? And where do England look in the future?
Roy Hodgson is a good manager. 'Good' being the key word. My opinion of Roy was greatly changed when he would reply to questions in press conferences about possession with the response "I don't listen to statistics" or something along those lines. I agree with him in some ways...in that shots off target is not a key factor in the match, unless it is a ridiculously high number which may need addressing. When Roy was saying this, he was saying it about possession. Against Italy, we had 30%, leaving Italy with 70%. That is a number that not even Manchester City or Manchester United gain from their games in the Premier League. When the other team have the ball 70% of the time, how are you supposed to create chances? On the counter? What if none of your players are allowed forward to counter? Roy has to have a serious think about his mentality when it comes to attacking or at lest keeping the ball.
Players - Goalkeepers
We have a world-class goalkeeper in Joe Hart. It is about the only position in the team which is 100% sorted.
Players - Defenders
Even if Rio Ferdinand's ommission was not 'football-related', I believe it was the right call. Rio has been off-the-pace for a little while, and he is sometimes a liability. Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Joleon Lescott and particularly Ryan Shawcross will soon be knocking on the door for a place, so Rio's time is probably up.
John Terry was lucky to be at the tournament in the first place, and was there purely because the FA delayed his trial to let him play, probably proving his guilt. However, he had some good games at the Euros. Maybe it is now time for him to step aside.
Joleon Lescott was one of the better players in the England set-up. Not only did he get England's first goal of the tournament, but he performed valiantly in the centre of defence against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Ashley Cole has still got it. His successor should probably be Kieran Gibbs. Leighton Baines has been unfortunate, in that his career coincided with Cole's.
Glen Johnson was not good enough. I will upset many people by saying it, as I saw several comment that he was the man-of-the-match in some games, even though he was particularly weak. Some said he put in an amazing tackle on Ibrahimovic. Yes, he did. However, had he not been 10 yards away from Ibrahimovic (the man who he should have been marking) in the first place, the need for such tackles would have been eradicated. Kyle Walker, when fully fit, should be permanent England right-back. The Olympics will show is Micah Richards is still good enough to perform at this level.
Players - Midfielders
I am very, very happy that Stewart Downing was not given playing time at the Euros. His name being picked for even the squad was a travesty.
Steven Gerrard, the only England player to be picked in the Team of the Tournament for the Euros, was probably England's best player. His delivery into the box led to about half of England's goals. He definately has a role to play in the qualifiers for the World Cup, after that, I'm not so sure.
Scott Parker did his usual job in front of the defence. I may be biased as a Spurs fan, but I thoroughly enjoy watching Parker play, and I think he should be a permanent fixture in the team.
James Milner had an on/off tournament. Some of his play was good...other parts was just shoddy. This just served to make Theo Walcott's involvement look all the more phenomenal.
Ashley Young was the worst player on the team. He could not keep the ball. I lost count of the amount of times he was caught down the wing, stopped to shield the ball and was robbed of it.
Gareth Barry is not good enough for this level.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a great account of himself, and can hopefully expect to be given more chance ahead of Ashley Young down the left-hand side.
Players - Attackers
Another argument I had with several people was whether Danny Welbeck meant his goal against Sweden. I do not believe he did. I believe he was trying to bring the ball down. He had an average tournament.
Andy Carroll scored the best goal I have ever seen him score. Such a powerful header, generated from his movement. He managed to restore some belief that he might have a chance at this level, as his performances in the Permier League were poor.
Wayne Rooney had an under-average time at the Euros. This was not helped by the way England played. In a system where possession of the ball is kept, Rooney would be instrumental.
Jermain Defoe was probably not given enough time to really evaluate him.
Players - Hopefuls
I don't think any goalkeepers are going to be given a look-in with the current form of Joe Hart.
Defence-wise, changes will soon need to be made. Joleon Lescott can be hopeful that he will be a permanent fixture in the centre. Gary Cahill will most likely be his partner, with capable competition from players like Ryan Shawcross. Kyle Walker should be given the position at right back as he had an incredible season for Spurs. In the future, maybe Steven Caulker will be given a chance to show his stuff.
In the midfield, players like Jack Rodwell and Jack Wilshere may be in with a chance with the ageing Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker only having a couple more years at international level left in them. Others, like Ross Barkley, Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Zaha may be future prospects. The Ox can expect to be in the team soon in place of the lingering Ashley Young.
Welbeck and Carroll are still young enough to be involved. It is for sure that Rooney will not lose his place until later in his career. Maybe Connor Wickham or Daniel Sturridge will be considered soon.
Solution to the Problem
England need possession. It is that simple. You cannot win a tournament by sitting on your 18-yard box for 80 minutes per game.
One of the players who should have been considered was Leon Britton.
I read an article that claimed Andrea Pirlo would not have made the England team, because he is not physically strong enough. He can't sprint. He can't head. Yet, he tore england apart with his pin-point passing. Britton is this type of player, and yet will be overlooked because he is not what the FA consider a world-class player.
Joe Hart is very capable with throwing the ball out. That should be the start to a possession game. Wayne Rooney would thrive in this situation, as he could come short to claim the ball, spread it and move on, instead of having to play extremely deeply just to get a touch.
As it stands, with the team we have just brought home from the Ukraine, we are not winning anything. It is time to try youth. We have nothing to lose. Start building a team now, and maybe in 4 or 8 years, we will have a chance at competing at this level.