Inept Defending Puts England on a Backward Path


When Roy Hodgson named the England squad for the World Cup 2014, few eyebrows were raised since it was a largely young group of players with very few experienced internationals in it. Yet, it was also the source of optimism for the national team, which has failed to look beyond the Golden generation until now. After years of failure with those players, England were expected to be a mixture of youthful vibrancy and attacking intent.

There were signs that England were heading in the right direction, but sadly, the results of the World Cup 2014 may suggest that the team has gone backwards yet again. Two consecutive 2-1 defeats has put England on the brink of elimination from the tournament. According to, England were 10/1 to reach the quarterfinals.

The searing heat of Manaus was blamed in the opening defeat against Italy, but against Uruguay, the players were left to blame themselves.

Throughout the 90 minutes, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka failed to click as a partnership and they were nervous on several occasions. It appeared as if this nervousness spread throughout the team – especially when defending. Luis Suarez may be taking a lot of plaudits for the way he got his 40th and 41st international goals, but there is no doubt that his job was made a lot easier by some inept defending. For both goals, there was no hint of a proper defensive line.

Cahill, who had a brilliant season with Chelsea, does not appear to have the same confidence when playing alongside Jagielka. Hodgson will undoubtedly be regretting his decision to not consider John Terry as a possible option. The Chelsea defender retired from international football a few years ago, but Hodgson stated that the team would be moving backwards if they were to try and persuade the 33-year-old to return. Now, though, he will realise that the team has gone backwards even without Terry.

English players have been criticised a lot for their failure to get past the quarter-finals of major tournaments in the last two decades. However, it now looks as if their achievements were actually good, as England have now been eliminated at the group stages.

Hope, albeit a very small one, still remains since England could finish runners-up if other results go their way. England need to beat Costa Rica by a significant margin while also hoping that Italy do the same to Uruguay as well.

This will be the final appearance on centre stage for stars like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. Despite scoring his first ever World Cup goal, Rooney could also be out of the picture by the time World Cup 2018 kicks off. Hodgson’s immediate job, though, will be to get his distraught players to perform against Costa Rica. His decision to utilize Rooney in a number of positions rather than a central striker role will also come under scrutiny.

Speculation about his future has already begun, but Hodgson refused to entertain claims that he will step down from his post should England get knocked out. Perhaps, he’ll accept that England have moved backwards under his regime.

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