Everyone knows that England have never won the world cup. The closest they came was claiming a victory when we, the mighty Hammers won it with the help of a few other Englishmen in ‘66. So why on earth did we go into a world cup with no Hammers in the squad?! Surely in what looked to be the weakest squad I have seen in my lifetime the minimum needed for success was a few Hammers to strengthen up the team?
Nothing seems to get under the skins of rival fans quite like claiming that West Ham won the world cup, I love mentioning it just to see the reaction because opposition fans just can’t help but bite and watching the rage build up as the words leave their mouth is something to enjoy.
But in all seriousness I am prouder than ever of the England national team. Knowing that BFS was going to lead us into a tournament was not something I was looking forward to. I expected us to be well drilled and maybe not be embarrassed in the way we have been on occasions in the past. But nonetheless I wasn’t looking forward to it. Then all of a sudden Southgate had the job and to me it seemed much like the FA getting in their yes man as they seem to like doing. A proper FA man, wouldn’t do anything radical and an all round underwhelming appointment.
I remember bits of France 98 but for me the first tournament I really remember is the 2002 world cup. That squad had truly world class players all over the pitch. Ferdinand, Ashely Cole, Gerrard, Beckham, Campbell, Scholes and Owen. With Hammers Joe Cole, David James and Trevor Sinclair who made a significant contribution all with the squad. Since then the team has gradually deteriorated from then until this summer in which we found ourselves with a team that was the poorest I have seen and a manager I didn’t rate.
This happened all while at the London stadium things have seemed to just get worse over the last 2 seasons with us in reality only staying up because of other teams being even worse and Moyes getting Arnie going. In a season in which we saw fans protest in multiple ways and in a certain game I actually called for Noble to, and I quote “do him” because there is a way to protest and that option was completely bottled because of certain peoples person agendas. But it looks as though that certain game has made a difference and as well as talking the talk which we are fully aware our board can do they are now talking the talk and we have so far made some potentially real quality additions and it appears as though Anderson baring any late changes will soon join us which will be THE statement of intent we have been waiting for since we moved. Better late than never.
At the same time the England team had begun to play as a team, with a plan. Playing the way I consider to be the right way (the west ham way) and despite the lack of world class players throughout the team it has actually worked.
But against Croatia, as much as I applaud Southgate we were lacking in the style of players we had as the option to play another way did not work. In the midfield the one player I would look at and say he could of made a difference in our very own Jack Wilshere. He is a player that has qualities that maybe only RLC share but Jack has proved time and time again that he can use these at the very top level in club football. Just having the one player who needs to sit in Henderson means that the other two must be bale to get up and down effectively but that additional spark and bit of energy as the game went on began to dwindle. Our Jack would have been the ideal man to bring on and help us push on in that game for me. He can do everything technically and physically with the exception of winning header but we have more than enough players in the team who are able to do this.
The 2nd player I think could of made a big difference in this type of game is AC. I am one of his biggest critics and have on multiple occasions called for him to be sold. But in a tournament if Southgate managed him correctly, a game that we are chasing and under constant pressure a player like Rashford or Sterling running off him with dynamic midfielder such as Lingard or Wilshere supporting I think it would of given Croatia a very different problem. I applaud Gareth for having a system and sticking to it but the cons are if that system is foiled there is no plan b and AC is a very good plan b in this situation.
Maybe if Wilshere and AC had been include we could look forward to playing on Sunday but it was not to be. But either way every single player and Gareth Southgate in particular deserves more credit than anyone will give them, Sterling included because his work for the team allowed us to play how we want even if he didn’t score. Above all else I have fallen back in love with the national team. My excitement has just decreased since 2004 when I thought after 2002 we were unlucky, but actually I realised as a team we did not work. We had the individuals and just chucked them together and it didn’t work. But Gareth has built a team with a philosophy and not just put the 23 best Englishmen together for a tournament. The whole country has been positive and excited for each game once again and even though we fell short late on that has certainly been a good thing for us all.
Written By Jack | @myWHUopinion