Can England win the World Cup? Almost certainly not. But they could give themselves a fighting chance with our five-point guide...
1. Keep Michael Carrick in the team
Michael Carrick is a fantastic footballer. He treats the ball like a lover, not a hot potato. His class, coolness and ability to play a killer pass is exactly what England need. He was Manchester United’s best player (after Robin van Persie) last season and was excellent when England beat Poland in their crucial World Cup qualifier. He is tactically aware and has experience at the very highest level. Carrick must start England’s first game in Brazil.
2. Get the best out of Rooney and Gerrard
Quite simply,Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are England’s two foremost match winners. They can produce something out of nothing and change a game against the very best opponents. Roy Hodgson has done a decent job of getting the best out of these two. That must continue.
3. Cut the deadwood
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the likes of Gareth Barry in the England setup, but the list extends much further. James Milner, Glen Johnson, Tom Cleverley, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young are among a clutch of underperforming players that always seem to creep back into England squads. Stop it. These players will not win you World Cups. England’s must embrace the Ravel Morrisons, Ross Barkleys and Wilfried Zahas now – and never look back.
4. Score when on top
As we saw in England’s game against Germany, England failed to take the lead when they had the early advantage. They shaded the game and restricted Germany to occasional counter attacks and were eventually undone with a well-taken headed goal by Per Mertersacker. Germany left Wembley with a win without having played too well - it’s about time England developed that knack.
5. Keep calm and keep the ball
Not even possession king Don Fabio Capello could get England to keep the ball and dominate opponents. It’s been the English disease for decades and, if Hodgson can get his side to make the ball work for them, they’ll find it a lot easier against the cream of the crop next summer.
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