Friday, September 21, 2018

Are England really contenders to win the World Cup?

David Nugent in Editorial, World Cup 16 Nov 2017

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The 32-team field for the World Cup is now complete and we can look forward to a highly competitive tournament in June and July. The likes of the Netherlands, Chile and most surprisingly Italy will not be in Russia.

However, one team that did qualify were England, who Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho believes can win the trophy next summer.

Asked about England’s chances at the World Cup, the former Chelsea boss told Sky Sports: “I think England must have a chance because the players are really good,”

“There’s a great generation of players at different ages and with different qualities.

“They have good experience at club level, playing in the Premier League and plenty of them play in the Champions League too. England have great potential to do something important.”

England not good enough to win the World Cup

I am sorry to disagree with you Jose, but England are not good enough to win the World Cup. Even the most positive England fan would have trouble trying to claim that their team were good enough to lift the trophy in mid-July.

England does have a number of very good players in the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Meanwhile, the Three Lions also have a number of promising young players available to boss Gareth Southgate.

However, the current team has many limitations and problems in defence and midfield. The likes of Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire came in and impressed at centre-back in the recent friendly games.

Both players are inexperienced, though, and centre-back remains a problem area for Southgate.

Midfield is horribly lacking in creativity

One of the major problems for England is a complete lack of creativity in midfield. The fact that so many of England’s hopes were pinned on young Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the last few friendlies showed the Three Lions lack of artisan midfielders.

Loftus-Cheek is a promising player. However, he is only now getting first-team football at Crystal Palace after failing to get into the Chelsea starting line-up.

Despite his undoubted ability, he has not yet turned his promise into anything tangible. In other words, he is not scoring and creating goals for the Eagles, a quality expected from a forward-thinking midfielder.

However, Loftus-Cheek may well make the plane to Russia, as Southgate’s options in central midfield are limited. Eric Dier will undoubtedly start as the defensive midfielder.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has at times started alongside the Tottenham man. In tougher games, the pair may start together.

However, the former Sunderland stars presence in midfield is unnecessary in some games. Having both defensive midfielders in the team can stifle the teams attacking threat.

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has long been labelled the saviour of the England midfield. Unfortunately, for the Gunners star, he actually has to stay fit and get into the Arsenal team before he should start for England.

That lack of creativity could well prove to be a major problem for Southgate’s team. The Three Lions have good wing-back options, but the midfield still needs to provide attacking backup to lone striker Kane.

England can use Russia as a learning experience

Mourinho may believe that England can win the World Cup, but the bookmakers do not, as Southgate’s team are odds of 16/1 to lift the famous old trophy next year.

Most realistic England fans accept that the current team is not capable of winning the World Cup. England do have a number of younger inexperienced players that could benefit from playing at a major tournament, though.

Gareth Southgate had to select a number of inexperienced players for the recent friendly internationals against Germany and Brazil. None of the newcomers that played in those games looked out of place.

Whether Southgate is brave enough to select any of those players in the World Cup squad is unclear. However, I do believe that most fans would prefer a squad full of hungry young players to represent the country.

The fans will far rather see the team have a go at the opposition than see their team head out of a tournament with a whimper like in previous years.

For me, England making it to the quarter-finals with the current squad would be an achievement. If England wins the World Cup, I am very prepared to go round to Mr Mourinho’s house and eat humble pie there!

Are England really contenders to win the World Cup?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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