Sunday, May 20, 2018

Should England be less pragmatic at the World Cup?

Will England boss Roy Hodgson be more adventurous at the World Cup?

England boss Roy Hodgson has promised to take risks at this summer’s World Cup

I recently read an article by another writer who claimed that England should go for a pragmatic approach at this summer’s World Cup.

This is the same approach that England seem have taken for the past five decades without success at a major tournament.


Mr pragmatic England boss Roy Hodgson chose an exciting squad for the big event in Brazil, which I must admit surprised me immensely.

The inclusion of the inexperienced, but exciting Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suggested that the former-Liverpool boss was willing to go for a more adventurous style this summer.

Pragmatic Choices

However, Hodgson’s first eleven for the Three Lions flattering 3-0 defeat of Peru maybe gave us a clue that he was going to still be pragmatic at this summer’s World Cup. The selection of Jordan Henderson in the centre of midfield ahead of the more skilful Jack Wilshere was maybe a sign of things to come at the World Cup.

The bigger indication of it may have been Hodgson choosing the industrious Danny Welbeck on the flank instead of the more exciting choice Raheem Sterling.

Neither Henderson nor Welbeck are without talents. Henderson has just arguably enjoyed the best season of his professional career as Liverpool came close to claiming their first league title in 24 years. His energy and industry helped the Reds challenge for the title.

At club level he also developed a good understanding in the centre of midfield with England captain Steven Gerrard, which could be a key to the former-Sunderland being first choice in the centre of the England midfield in Brazil.

Another factor in Henderson starting against Peru may have been Jack Wilshere’s fitness. The Arsenal man missed much of the second half the season through an injury picked-up playing for England.

Wilshere may not be fully-fit, but will no doubt be given his chance to shine in the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras in the Three Lions preparation for the World Cup.

Welbeck struggled for any sustainable run in the Manchester United first team last season. Recently the striker has revealed that he was growing frustrated at being played on the flanks by former-United boss David Moyes.

However, it seems that the only way that Welbeck will start games for England is by playing on the flanks. He is behind Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge in the striking pecking order, so ironically if he is going to start for England this summer it will be on the wing.

Welbeck is a player that will give a hundred per cent every game and is disciplined enough to help out his defence when needed. Welbeck’s alternative is Sterling, who maybe is not as diligent in his defensive work, even though he can defend when he has to.

Just like Henderson, Sterling was outstanding for Liverpool at times last season. Towards the end of the campaign the teenager became an influential player in the Reds title bid. The youngster has the potential to become a very good player, whether he is playing on the wing or behind the lone striker.


England face Ecuador in a friendly match on Wednesday night, which the likes of Sterling, Wilshere, Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all expected to start. This will give the youngsters a chance to impress ahead of Saturday’s final friendly match against Honduras, before the Three Lions face Italy in their World Cup opener.

Even impressing in that friendly match is no guarantee that any of the talented youngsters will get the chance to impress from the start against Italy in England’s World Cup opener.

Own strengths

I think it was Daniel Sturridge who said that England should not be worried by the opposition and should just concentrate on their own game. I have to agree with the Liverpool striker. For too long England have set-up their whole game plan on combating the opposition.

If England is to be successful at the World Cup then the players have to start believing in their own abilities. This is not me as a writer building the players up, as England teams are often over-rated and have exaggerated expectations.

However, there seems to be a sense of excitement and optimism amongst the England players. If the England players are given a chance to just go out and play then they will be more successful.

Not Gung-ho

I am not suggesting that England go gung-ho at the World Cup, as that would be naïve, but instead give the opposition teams something to worry about, instead of constantly worrying what the opposition can do.

The pragmatic approach has failed the Three Lions on too many occasions, as England team after England team has failed to impress at major tournaments. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Arguably that is exactly what England has done at every tournament since the World Cup in 1966, maybe with the exception of the European Championships in 1996. Hodgson has promised that his team will take risks in Brazil. I just hope that he will stick to his promise, because being pragmatic has only brought England fans nearly 50 years of disappointment.

Should England take a more adventurous approach at the World Cup?


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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