Where has it actually gone wrong with England?

As England prepare to take on Slovenia in their final Group C game, the nation waits with baited breath. Due to England’s below-par performances against both the USA and Algeria, the side’s hopes of qualifying for the last 16 at the World Cup rest upon the result of tomorrow’s game. Given that one infamous tabloid newspaper initially greeted the news of England’s World Cup draw with the acronym ‘EASY’, it is safe to say that the nation have been at a loss to explain why the side ranked eighth in the world have yet to secure their place within the tournament’s knockout rounds. What exactly is going wrong?

Firstly, questions have been raised over manager Fabio Capello’s team selection and tactical preferences. Thus far, Capello has rigidly stuck to the use of a 4-4-2 formation, with the talismanic Wayne Rooney in tandem with the much-maligned Emile Heskey. Critics have suggested that this formation does not play to key players’ strengths, and that Heskey offers precious little to warrant a first-team berth. Additionally, many have bemoaned Capello’s failure to change the side tactically during games, with this fault becoming particularly annoying during the latter stages of the game against Algeria.

A large proportion of England fans have instead proposed the use of a 4-2-3-1 formation, which would allow both Steven Gerrard (central) and Wayne Rooney (lone striker) to play in their preferred positions, positions where they have been very effective at club level. Many have tipped Joe Cole to replace Heskey in order to add some much-needed guide and creativity to the side.

The controversial nature of deposed former captain John Terry’s recent press conference (which, I add, has been followed up with an apology) has hinted at discontent and unrest within the England camp. Although the sensationalised nature of press coverage since has attempted to paint a picture of a French squad-esque ‘mutiny’, Terry’s comments have highlighted that the squad may not be as unified as one would think.

Thankfully, the stellar press conference given by Frank Lampard yesterday has acted to pour water on the ‘fire’ created by John Terry, with the articulate Chelsea midfielder dismissing the idea of the existence of a ‘rebel faction’.

The third, and most feasible explanation, is that the players have failed to live up to expectations. Having seen the likes of Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard perform to such high standards over the course of the domestic season, the nation is understandably disappointed by the failure of the players to reach such levels at the World Cup. The long and arduous nature of the domestic season, coupled with the difference between club and international football has contributed to this, but it is arguable that such top quality players should be able to make the transition and perform on the world’s biggest stage.

Thankfully, the destiny of England’s World Cup success still lies in their own hands. Should England beat Slovenia tomorrow, all the tumult and disarray of the last fortnight will be forgotten, and the side can concentrate on the knockout stage of the tournament.

Come on England!

What do you think is the main problem with England?

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