Following what looks to be England’s latest failing at a major tournament, there are yet again calls for major overhaul.
After the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where England crashed out in the last 16 with a 4-1 hammering by rivals Germany, the Three Lions were encouraged to base their style on the tiki-taka of Spain who went on to win the coveted trophy.
St George’s Park was built with this philosophy grained into it and the effects have been predicted to come to fruition for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
The problem now however is that tiki-taka looks tiki-toast after Spain themselves were dumped out the group stages this summer by The Netherlands and Chile.
To Roy Hodgson’s credit, England did play the positive attacking football in their opener against Italy and were arguably the better side but Uruguay was a different story as static, nervous England seemed to be back as the pressure looked to have got to them.
England need to create their own identity, possibly starting with a new Captain.
Steven Gerrard has come into particular light as the 34-year-old has probably waved goodbye to the World Cup due to his age and it did not end on a high, his header setting up Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez’s winner to all but send England home.
Liverpool’s iconic hero has been a loyal servant to his country with some fantastic highs including scoring the equalizer in England’s famous 1-5 win over Germany in 2001, scoring a brilliant goal against Trinidad and Tobago at World Cup 2006 and of course his crucial World Cup qualifying goals against the likes of Croatia for 2010 and Poland for 2014.
Along with this though, he has had his lows including a dodgy back-pass at Euro 2004 against France which led to Thierry Henry being fouled for Zinedine Zidane’s winning penalty as well as the Uruguay gaffe.
If Gerrard is replaced, either by choice through International retirement, or by force as Hodgson continues to build for the future, who could replace him?
Joe Hart: The England goalkeeper would be a popular choice among fans as he is one of few England players who has a safe spot in Hodgson’s starting eleven.
Two time Premiership winner with Manchester City, Hart, has established himself as England’s number one after Robert Green’s high profile error against the United States at the last World Cup and then number two David James has since retired.
Hart is a known leader on the pitch, often seen barking instructions from his penalty box and is refreshingly honest in interviews, something that adheres to England supporters as he is one of very few players who embodies himself among fans as “one of them”.
It is a myth that England players do not care about their national side as much as the fans but Hart is a rare example of someone who truly proves this. Perfect Captain material.
Gary Cahill: John Terry’s partner in the heart of Chelsea’s defense is starting to emerge from the former England Captain’s shadow.
Since joining Stamford Bridge from Bolton in 2012, Cahill has blossomed working with Terry and has picked up plenty more England caps to boot as he ‘s built up a solid partnership with Everton’s Phil Jagielka.
Along with this, Cahill has similar personality traits to his colleague such as on-pitch leadership and an equally similar playing style. The 28-year-old is often seen putting his body on the line for his team much like Terry (“Superman” dive vs Slovenia esque) in true English lion-heart style, something the Three Lions have missed since Terry’s acrimonious departure from the national fold.
Another positive of Cahill’s, he also does not come with the baggage of John Terry with his personal life stories of affairs and racist allegations.
Wayne Rooney: Expected to be the bookies and media favourite to replace Gerrard. The England poster boy is undoubtedly the star man.
94 caps and 40 goals would be an impressive return by anyone’s standard but the main criticism of “Wazza” is that he does not turn up on the big stage.
The Manchester United forward, 28, has only scored six goals in major tournaments (four at Euro 2004 where he was just 18, one at Euro 2012 which was a header from two yards against Ukraine, and his leveler against Uruguay) – his first World Cup goal at the third attempt.
Criticism of his attitude would also be a harm to him, frequent contract issues with his club where he seems to be constantly demanding more money does not portray him in a good light.
Many also believe that we have never seen what Rooney is truly capable of, citing that if he had more drive and determination he could have been one of the best players in the world, possibly even ever.
Rooney’s rant into a camera following a 0-0 draw with Algeria at the last World Cup will also live long in the memory of many an England supporter. “Nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s what loyal support is”, is not a sentence that endears you to fans well.
Despite all this though, Rooney is still seen as the man to lead England. Why? Because he is England’s best player and, after all, isn’t that what the Captain should be?