The England World Cup team should be built around the philosophical, the tactical, and the technical model of Liverpool’s successes this season.
It has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s year. Sitting atop the Premier League table with a five-point lead, they have won their last eleven consecutive games, and have scored 96 goals in a campaign that has unexpectedly yet excitedly ushered in a new era of league dominance.
They stand just three steps away from Premier League heaven, a triumph that would eternally inscribe their name amongst the best and most exciting teams to have ever graced the Premier League. Whilst those around them have struggled, Liverpool have continued to answer almost all of the questions asked of them. Barring an extraordinary and unlikely collapse, they will be the new Premier League champions.
One of the hallmarks of Liverpool’s success this season has been their attacking proficiency. They have established themselves as probably the most exciting attacking side in Europe, scoring three or more goals in five of their last six away league matches.
The cog in the fast-moving wheel of Liverpool this season has been 33-year-old captain, Steven Gerrard whose form has prompted manager Brendan Rodgers to labelling him Europe’s best controlling midfielder right now.
As captain, his inclusion in the England first-team is a certainty, and with 13 goals and 10 assists in the league this season, he will undoubtedly offer a reinvigorated attacking option that seems to have been dormant over the past few seasons.
Turning towards the attacking options, Daniel Sturridge will no doubt be one of the first names on the team sheet. The striker’s rehabilitation at Liverpool has been one of the club’s greatest success stories. Signed in January 2013 from Chelsea for a fee of £12m, questions were asked by the Liverpool faithful; it was a hefty amount of money for a player who had proven himself rather changeable in terms of how many clubs he had played for.
Nevertheless, his attacking partnership with Luis Suarez (what has now been coined as the “SAS” – Suarez and Sturrdige) has been a revelation this season, and more than deserves a starting place in England’s World Cup team.
Turning to one of the youngest players in the current England squad, Raheem Sterling, manager Brendan Rodgers recently dubbed him the ‘best young player in European football at the moment‘.
Raheem on present form is easily the best winger in the country. Even in Liverpool’s draws against Aston Villa and West Brom this year, when a number of the bigger names were off their game, Raheem Sterling was still effervescent, and Liverpool’s best chance of creating a winning goal. With Theo Walcott’s injury, Andros Townsend struggling to get minutes for Tottenham and Aaron Lennon inconsistent for Spurs, Raheem must surely be in the driver’s seat for Brazil.
Moving back into midfield, we have Jordan Henderson, or rather, Steven Gerrard’s guard dog. What Henderson does so well is press the ball, keeping a high tempo to the game and seems to have an ever-lasting engine; his work-rate is, in my opinion, one of the best in the league.
He’s been hugely influential to Steven Gerrard’s form this season, to what Liverpool have already achieved and also to what they are possibly on the cusp of achieving. Henderson will be an invaluable asset to the England side, especially against the likes of Italy who will make no doubt make the midfield work for the ball.
Finally, turning to the defence, right-back Glen Johnson will be vying for a starting place for Liverpool. There is no doubting he will be on the plane to Brazil, but the interest will be in his pursuit of the starting spot ahead of Kyle Walker. What he lacks in skill, he makes up for in his wealth of experience and loves to get forward which will suit England I think.
Tactics-wise, England could do very well in following Liverpool’s example. Carrying the 4-1-2-3 formation that has been so successfully worn by Liverpool this season, with a midfield three consisting of a deep-sitting Gerrard, and then a more central Wilshere and Henderson, England can very much transpose their domestic midfield dynamic onto the international stage.
Up top, with Sterling occupying the wide-left position, Rooney acting as a central target man, and Sturridge playing out wide on the right, goals will surely follow.
So, in my opinion, the starting eleven for England should definitely take a red complexion: the best way to breed success is to create an atmosphere stimulated by winners, and Liverpool, providing they are able to maintain their form coming into the last three games of the season, will offer up five Premier League winners to and England side that has lacked consistency in recent years.