In the last two decades, reaching the quarter-finals was seen as something of a failure for the England national team. The World Cup 2014, however, has shown that those teams fared much better than people gave them credit for. After all, it was largely a disallowed goal that prevented England from reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup 2010. This time, though, there is no such controversy.
The players and Roy Hodgson will need to take a hard look at themselves after England suffered a second consecutive group stage defeat. The 2-1 defeat against Uruguay has not put them out of the tournament just yet, but England now need a miracle in order to reach the last 16 stage. Unsurprisingly, the latest World Cup betting odds suggest that England are 50/2 to be the top European team in this World Cup.
The situation faced by England is quite a contrast to that faced by Spain. The world champions have been knocked out of the competition in the group stages after suffering two heavy defeats against Netherlands and Chile. This should not come as a major surprise despite having seen Spain dominate for the last six years.
Spain failed to reinvigorate the team at just the right stage. The warning signs were there during qualification and in the Confederations Cup. Yet, Vicente del Bosque largely stuck with the same group of players and this includes strikers like Fernando Torres and David Villa. Of course, he did bring in Diego Costa, but the 25-year-old is a physical player not suited to the passing style of the Spanish team.
Rather than bring in the new blood, Spain stuck with the likes of Xavi and Xabi Alonso to get them towards success as they have done in the past. Iker Casillas was also named as the first choice goalkeeper despite his failure to feature regularly for Real Madrid.
In contrast, England decided to go in for youth. Roy Hodgson named a squad that contained just six players over the age of 30. The likes of Ashley Cole and Michael Carrick were surprise omissions, as the former Liverpool manager decided to go in for the youth of Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley respectively. This could have been one of the reasons for England’s failure at the World Cup 2014.
The major reason, though, comes from Roy Hodgson’s stubbornness to not even consider John Terry as a possible option. Terry retired from international football after falling out with the English FA. However, there were slight indications – despite Terry’s public statements – that the 33-year-old could have been persuaded to return. Terry is a player who wears the national team colours with intense pride.
In his absence, Cahill and Jagielka never looked comfortable with each other. Their indecisiveness eventually spread to the rest of the team, as they chased an equaliser against Uruguay. Despite getting the equaliser through Wayne Rooney, England remained nervous at the back. Suarez’ goal confirmed where the squad was left wanting – experience and leadership.
Hodgson made a grave mistake in not taking Terry and this has ultimately proven disastrous for England.