For the first time in many years, England‘s final two wins to seal World Cup 2014 qualification seemed to show that the entire England team was playing to their club ability.
Given the lows of 2007 and 2010, it was an agreed theory that England players simply failed to translate their impressive Premier League performances to the International stage. It was clear to see that the Three Lions’ shirt seemed to put an added pressure on their shoulders that hindered their freedom to display what warranted their callups in the first place.
It was a serious problem that we all knew had to be fixed. Fabio Capello never really got it sorted; if anything his attitude made it worse, but as Roy Hodgson‘s period in charge of England has progressed, it seems to me that that idea is now long gone. The England team seems to play to their very best ability and are determined to take the opportunity of representing their country rather than fear it.
The best example of this has been in the final qualifying campaign wins over Montengro (4-1) and Poland (2-0). The mix of young and experienced players is now allowing for a great competition in the squad. The young players want to get rid of the negativity of their generation before and prove they can perform at such a level. No place is a certainty, and Hodgson has managed to make a group now with a real spirit to succeed with one another.
It’s helping England play with freedom and creativity, but also the competitive nature that we see with their clubs. Watching Leighton Baines bomb down the wing, win decisive challenges, then pick a pin point cross to Wayne Rooney who heads home is what I am talking about. Then, Andros Townsend, displays no transition from club football to England, whilst the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Phil Jagielka show that they have no fear to take on the pressures that come with the task.
It is nice to see, because it now seems like we can see an England team improve and grow, showing us their very best. It all seems to be clicking right now for England, but with around seven months until Brazil 2014, it is a long period to keep it going. So much tends to occur in that period, but you sense (and hope) that this time there will only be minor injuries and, more importantly, no negative headlines.
No one is getting carried away, but one of England’s major problems seems to have been erased. From debutantes such as Rickie Lambert and Townsend to the experience of Steven Gerrard, England players are fullfilling their potential.