The title of this post is a line that will be heard from pubs to offices to schools to kitchen tables to pretty much anywhere and everywhere up and down England over the next month. World Cup year is a time when everyone suddenly becomes the next José Mourinho and knows exactly how to mastermind a plan that ends with the Three Lions lifting the trophy come July 13th.
Although I like to think of myself as a knowledgeable source when it comes to the beautiful game and not entertain conversations with those who posses ill-informed opinions, I can occasionally be caught entering an argument with some idiot trying to explain to them why Rooney hasn’t put 6 past Peru yet.
Don’t get me wrong though, there’s nothing I love more than an old chin wag about football with others who share a good knowledge of the sport and like the self proclaimed experts who pop up every 4 years we discuss ‘What I’d do if I was Roy’.
So, for anyone who’s interested here’s my take on the best way to go about tackling Rio 2014:
Team selection (4-2-3-1):
GK – Although my friend insists it should be Foster (West Brom fan obviously) the clear choice is Hart.
LB – I’d like to start by saying that I would have taken Ashley Cole. If we’re in a quarter-final against the Spanish or Brazilians and Baines gets a knock no one can tell me that they would rather turn around and see Shaw over Cole on the bench. Sorry Roy but telling Ashley he’s not on the plane because you want to focus on youth and he hasn’t played enough then selecting Frank Lampard just doesn’t add up.
CB – Although never really an option unfortunately big JT will not be there. The man may be a thug but he’s still England’s best defender in my books and the partnership of him and Cahill would have been invaluable. With the Chelsea captain not there I still feel the back 2 picks itself in Cahill and Jagielka.
RB – Arguably our weakest position. Although Milner was recently tried there, Glen’s the only recognised right back in the squad and seems to be the best of a bad bunch.
CM – With Stevie G as captain it looks as though there’s only one midfield spot up for grabs. As we’ve found out the hard way over the past decade Lampard and Gerrard as a partnership just doesn’t work. Couple that with the fact both are now well into their 30?s and the climate of Brazil, I think playing them together would be suicide. We need legs, Wilshere and Milner are options but no one screams stamina like Jordan Henderson. He may not be as technically gifted as Jack but having played with Gerrard for Liverpool this year along with his ability to ‘do the dirty work’ Jordan’s the stand-out candidate.
L/RM – We will no doubt miss Theo Walcott but from what we’ve taken, you can put our wingers on a spectrum. Sterling and The Ox (providing he’s fit) posses lots of attacking creativity and flair whilst Mr reliable aka James Milner will cover marauding full back runs and puts in steady displays. Welbeck and Lallana sit somewhere in between. In my opinion Raheem has to play, he’s been a joy to watch this season and lights up games when running at defences. His partner will vary dependant on the opposition, Lallana starts hands down against Coata Rica however applying pressure to The Azzurri’s midfield and in particular the ticking metronome and all round class act that is Andrea Pirlo is vital and for me, Milner’s the man for the job.
CAM – Rooney is the obvious candidate but at risk of being bombarded with abuse I say don’t play him! Bar the Euro’s in ’04 Wayne has never really lived up to his billing on the biggest international stages. I also think England would play better as a collective unit were he to start on the bench however, he is no doubt a game changer and should be called upon when needed. Despite a very impressive display in England’s last outing, Ross Barkley remains an unknown quantity at international level and starting him could go one of two ways given his youth and inexperience. Referring back to my headache when it came to selecting wingers, I’d like to see Lallana moved inside and take up the number 10 role. The saints man, with Sterling and Milner either side offers a bit of everything.
ST – There’s only one guy for this job, arise Daniel Sturridge. Confidence is never an issue with the Liverpool attacker and having performed well in recent international fixtures looks raring to go. Lambert is a good option from the bench and offers something different with his physical presence but I’m hoping to see Danny’s infamous goal celebratory dance more than once in Brazil this summer.
Style of play:
I can’t remember a major tournament where our nations expectations have been lower. After being drawn in the so called ‘group of death’ it seems people are losing faith before a ball has even been kicked. This however, could be a blessing in disguise. If I could say only one thing to Hodgson before we started it would be to play without fear. Being a naturally defensive manager it always seems he has England playing in shackles, my hopes will drop if we start with 11 men behind the ball against Italy with the likes of Sterling on the bench. Run at them, have a go! We have great pace in wide areas and that should be our point of attack. Exploit space and use a mixture of cutting inside and providing crosses (especially if Lambert’s on the pitch) as the main plan. Of course you’d be foolish not to pay a team of their calibre some respect but for God sake don’t look like you’re playing for a 0-0 draw from the outset!
To use the typical footballing cliché- at the end of the day, everyone has an opinion and this is only mine. Whatever you believe in we all want the same thing and come June 14th we can only hope that our Three Lions roar!