England and Euro 2012
So Englands new manager has named his squad for the Euro 2012 tournament :
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich).
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton).
Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Man United), James Milner (Man City).
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham).
Stand-by: Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)
The most glaring question marks (for me) in the selection are the inclusion of Gerrard and Lampard, and the exclusion of Mica Richards.
The Gerrard & Lampard question is one that had the jury in unanimous verdict from years gone by. The two cannot play together. However, it’s my personal belief that the England team that qualified for the 2002 world cup (with a fit and playing Gerrard) was possibly the greatest England team we’ve had for at least 22 years. We were good and I had every confidence we would do well in the tournament until Gerrard got injured. He was integral and as long as he doesn’t play along side Lampard, could still be the tonic for England.
Lampard on the other hand has matured as a player and by that, I mean, he’s moved further back in the formation. More defensive and less goals from Lamps, but he is a very good football player and so can do a masterful job in the holding midfield role.
Now if Gerrard is still going forward and Lampard is now not doing the same job (but holding) what can we say is holding back the opportunity for these two to be on the pitch at the same time?
The answer is a simple one, fear of failure!
With all the history that has gone before it, to have both of these players in the same squad is a strong decision, but if he puts both players on the pitch together in the same team (like it has been done before) and it fails, he has a whole host of critics to face. Hodgson knows this, as does Gerrard and Lampard.
However, this leads me on to my main point, why this could be the most successful European Championship that England has ever been in.
England’s preparations for this tournament have been, to say the least, a bit of a shambles. Their performance at the last World Cup was terrible, verging on the ridiculous. What we can often say at times like this is simply,
“when things are this bad, they can’t really get any worse?”
Roy Hodgson is in arguably the greatest position of any England manager since 1966. Expectations are at their lowest, which brings me back to my comment about Lampard and Gerrard playing together. For the England team as a whole, there is absolutely no fear of failure. No one expects them to do well,so they have nothing to lose.
In Sven-Goran Eriksons book “On Football” we have a chapter about “daring to win”, which proclaims that “you must dare to fail, if you are to dare to succeed.” Essentially what we have, by increasing the teams ability to fail, is an increased “security zone”. With an increased security zone and less worries of expressing their abilities, the England team are left with more room to “have a go”, an increased upper mental limit to play without constraints and indeed flourish and grow into the team we all know they have the ability to be.
By lowering the bar for failure, you raise the bar for achievement. This is shown in Erikson’s diagram here:
With this knowledge, when you consider the squad now, with the likes of Walcott, Oxilaide-Chamberlain, Ashley Young to name three, you realise that there is some serious scope for some quite expansive and electrifying football on show.
To have this extended comfort zone created for these players, may just be a blessing in disguise?