ENGLAND MAY be through to the Euro 2012 finals, but now comes the harsh reality of having to face the cream of Europe’s football aristocracy.
So, with the national side’s pride still stuck down the back of a sofa somewhere in South Africa after the 2010 World Cup, we look at what needs to be done before the Three Lions face Spain, Germany et al. And you can keep tabs on England’s potential players in live Barclays Premier League action on Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2 and ESPN.
Sort out the centre-backs
Whether Rio Ferdinand makes his first Euro finals will mainly depend on the injury-prone Man United defender not rupturing a cruciate ligament while cleaning his teeth. However, long-term partner John Terry is so past his best, if he were cheese you’d wear a decontamination suit to touch him. Too slow to catch a cold, Terry needs to be replaced by the likes of Old Trafford’s fearless Phil Jones, who seems born to play international football.
See the sort of defending we don’t want from England.
Craft a ball-holding midfield
England’s midfield often reacts to getting the ball like they’ve found a tarantula in their underwear, and the quicker they can punt it away with the words “have it” echoing in their heads, the better. Perhaps a course of watching ball players who can keep possession, such as Wesley Sneijder and Andrés Iniesta, could help. And, if that doesn’t work, it might be time to pension off the old guard and build the team around Arsenal’s precociously talented Jack Wilshere.
Watch a ball-juggling genius who could teach England’s midfield a few tricks.
Find a winning formation
To Englishmen, the 4-4-2 formation is like a half-time mug of cocoa at Crewe Alexandra in January. It might be warming and cosy, and familiar, but it’s too predictable to scoop trophies that glitter like a thousand stars. England’s 1966 World Cup-winning formation was a bendy 4-1-2-1-2, and Barcelona have apparently had a bit of success employing a cheeky 4-3-3. Come on England, live a little!
Enjoy Arsenal’s sexiest formation under Arsène Wenger.
How d’you solve a problem like Wayne Rooney?
England’s highly talented striker presents two problems: how do you play without him, and how do you play with him? With red card Roo out for the Euro 2012 kick-off, the ‘usual suspect’ replacements include unproven Bobby Zamora, super-sized Andy Carroll, inconsistent Jermain Defoe, and expensive journeyman Darren Bent. Or, whisper the names of Man United’s Danny Welbeck and Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and feel the hairs on your neck stand up. Oh, and playing WITH Rooney involves convincing him that England pay for his moments of madness.
Savour Rooney at his best.
Do or die Fabio
Sometimes, it’s actually true that the only thing to fear is fear itself. England’s painful play-it-safe approach has led to 45 years of hurt and more embarrassing moments than eight series of The X Factor. So come on England boss Fabio Capello, let’s throw on the exciting talent, with a devil-may-care attitude and slightly mad laugh. Maybe it’ll work, and, if it doesn’t, at least we’ll have had some fun trying.
Witness a classic match without caution.
What do you think England need to sort out before entering the Euro 2012 lions’ den? Let us know by leaving a comment. And for sport, film and TV chit-chat, follow @tvfrombt on Twitter/tvfrombt