So holidays on the Copacabana beach are planned for 2014. England are going to the World Cup Finals the first finals to be held in South America since 1978 in Argentina and a return to Brazil who last held the finals in 1950.
Remember 1978, no? Nor do I! England never qualified, Scotland did but went on to under perform but managed to beat the runners up Holland on the way. Ally MacLoud tartan army including Dalglesh, Souness and Joe Jordan went to Argentina believing their hype but Peru and Iran knocked them down a peg or two before the game against the Dutch when Archie Gemmill scored a scorcher. Oh and while that was all going on Willy Johnston failed a drug test and was sent home.
Well at least us England fans had something to laugh about after failing to qualify for the final for the second time running. Missing out to Italy on goal difference in the qualifiers.
The last time we all went to Brazil was in 1950 and after a break following the second world war this was the first finals since 1938 in France where Italy beat Hungary 4-2 in the final. Before the finals started several teams withdrew including India who there are two stories as to the reason one was that FIFA had banned barefoot players and several Indian players played barefoot (they were well hard I can remember “casers”) the other reason were due to the cost of travelling to Brazil. I know which story I prefer.
England never got out of the Group stage Spain beat all three group sides, and England, Chile and the US all managed one win. England beat Chile 2-1 and lost to the US 1-0 who in turn were beaten by Chile 5-2.
I have a point to make but I am not quite there yet. Lets look at all of the South American finals
1930 were held in Uruguay, the winners were Uruguay runners up Argentina.
1950 were held in Brazil, the winners were Uruguay runners up Brazil.
1962 were held in Chile, the winners were Brazil runners up Czechoslovakia.
1970 were held in Mexico, the winners were Brazil runners up Italy.
1978 were held in Argentina, the winners were Argentina runners up Netherlands.
1986 were held in Mexico, the winners were Argentina runners up West Germany.
England will not win the world cup in Brazil next year. I may even be a bold to say no European side will win the World Cup in Brazil. The bookies agree with me Brazil are 3-1 , Argentina, Germany & Spain 5-1, Belgium 14-1 and England 25-1.
So what is my point?
Here goes this could be the dawn that Greg Dyke has talked about, lets use the finals to prepare for the 2018 finals in Russia by leaving the old guard at home. Lets not take Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Terry, Michael Carrick, Jermaine Defoe and Ricky Lambert they are all over 30 and will not be going to Russia in 2018. To be honest with the exception of Lambert they have had their chances and not taken them, and not just once. The under 21’s performed well in qualifying for the UEFA 2013 finals but failed to shine at the finals themselves. Well failed to arrive and unpack might be a more accurate reflection.
In qualification the under 21’s won seven of their eight matches finishing five points clear of Norway in second spot. Loosing only to Belgium away 2-1.
The final tournament was a disaster we finished bottom of the group behind winners Italy and runners up Norway and hosts Israel. England lost all their games and only scored one goal and that was a penalty scored by Craig Dawson a defender!
There are enough experience (competition) players in the England squad without the likes of Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, Carrick, Defoe and Lambert to support a younger team get experience in a tournament finals so if I was in charge I would be telling my boss I want to use these finals that we have no hope of winning to work on a squad that is capable of winning in 2018.
We need to temper the expectations of fans and the media and ensure that they realise no side from outside South America has won a World Cup in South America and England will not be the first side to do this. But Russia in 2018 is much more likely that Qatar in 2020
If we gave the likes of Zaha, Lansbury, Lees, Shelvey, McEachran, Henderson, Wickham, Delfouneso and of course Sam Byram a chance at these finals with no pressure and expectation. They would get three games minimum in a finals environment and then all of the qualifiers for the Euros 2016 and the finals in France, followed by the qualifiers in 2017 for the World Cup finals in Russia 2018
A five-year plan with measurable outcomes along the way, Simple.
I am sure with this preparation then next group of young lions would be much better prepared for finals in five years time when they will be expected to step up and take the nations pride forward and win the world cup ending 52 years of hurt.
Painful, excruciatingly painful hurt!
No pressure then lads.
Come on England.