A spurt of exciting and vibrant young players is not quite translating to a team of similar attributes for the England national team and Roy Hodgson. The Three Lions won a friendly game 1-0 over Norway at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday thanks to a Wayne Rooney penalty, but the overall performance was tepid and uninspiring, and far from the youthful, fresh and vibrant England that the team sheet would suggest.
For their club teams in the Premier League, players like Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are exciting to watch and contribute to the overall attraction that is the Premier League. But when those players pull on an England jersey, they just do not seem to be the same players.
On paper, England should be one of the more attractive teams to watch, but in reality, they are anything but. This is nothing new, however, as for years players like David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Owen have not only lit up the Premier League stage, but also the Champions League stage against the very best teams around. But once again, when they pull on that England jersey, everything changes — it just doesn’t quite click as it should for some reason.
The new generation seems to be no different, as the World Cup in Brazil showed, and now the qualification process for Euro 2016 seems like it will follow suit. There is no doubt that the pool of players England has to choose from is smaller than it should be, but there are still enough quality players at the manager’s disposal to do better than the team has been doing for so long.
The team just flat out under performs when it comes to the England national team as opposed to their club sides. The game against Norway was merely another illustration of exactly that, as the game drifted by with England looking less and less likely to make a breakthrough. They eventually managed to do so, but without the penalty, it looked extremely likely that the game was heading for a turgid 0-0 draw.
England clearly has the individuals to perform much, much better than they did against Norway, and much, much better than they do most times when they take to the field. But they need to get the best out of those players to show the teams true potential, and considering how long they have failed to do exactly that, you wouldn’t bet against this current team continuing to struggle in the run up to Euro 2016 and beyond.