England maybe seen as ‘under dogs’ as we approach Euro 2012, but with our ‘white hopes’ cursed with injuries and issues off the pitch, this title can only give fans further encouragement to get behind the team.
With Gary Cahill ruled out of the Euros, being the 11th man to be plagued by injury for England in the run up to the tournament, and Rio Ferdinand finally backing his country via Twitter, all the talking can now be done on the pitch this Monday against France. In every tournament England always go in with the hopes of winning it and it always ends in heart-break, but this year we are seen to be the under dogs and this should work in our advantage.
From what we have witnessed in our two warm-up games, we have kept two clean sheets and looked solid at the back. Belgium was not a team we were going to ‘walk-over’, as they had a very quick and threatening strike force with, Chelsea’s £32m new signing, Edin Hazard and Everton’s Marouane Fellaini. Hodgson got his tactics spot on as he experimented with different shapes and partnerships with key players. England might have created very little but the team were very organized and we had that little bit of class in attack which allowed us to nick a goal. It was not a great spectacle by any means but this is the style of play we may have to adopt through the tournament when we face the likes of France and Sweden, and if it gets us the results, then who will be complaining?
We have one of the best goalkeepers in the world with Joe Hart and our defense have looked tight and have not conceded, which is a massive positive to take into the tournament. It will be interesting to see what midfield Hodgson picks for the first game against France, but whoever he put’s in their the wide men will be very important, and this is where we will look to cause problems for the opposition, particularly if Andy Carroll is chosen in attack. Liverpool’s £35m man has looked more threatening in his last few games for club and country but the Euros could give him the real boast he needs to regain confidence and he will need the likes of Young, Walcott, Milner and Chamberlain to supply him with the crosses. With Wayne Rooney back in the mix after his 2-match ban, he will provide more flexibility, as he will track back and drop deep to pick up the ball.
Despite the injury concerns, England have players that can do a lot of damage to opponents. Welbeck, Walcott and Young can be England’s danger men this tournament if they step up to the big stage and show the world what they can do. The three of them have shown for their clubs this season they have pace, technique, agility and everything in their locker to change a game and I see them making real impressions this tournament.
Another essential part of England’s campaign will be Steven Gerrard. Gerrard has been one of the world’s best midfielders for the last decade and, in my opinion, should have been made captain for England a long time ago. ‘Stevie G’ will be one of the most experienced players in a three-lions shirt this summer and he will hopefully lead our underachieving England to success.
The England squad just need to look forward to the tournament and ignore all the off-field activities which has hindered them in the past, so they can focus on their own game. We have a quality side going into the tournament and there is no reason why we can’t go on and at least reach the semi finals.