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Success For England Is A Simple Equation

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This time, COS reader Peter reckons he’s cracked the code for England success

To gain success at any echelon of football your talent must at least equal your effort level. Obviously you have to possess more than a modicum of talent to make it as a professional footballer but it all depends on your effort. Many careers have gone down the drain because of an imbalance one way or another in this respect. Stan Collymore was going to make a comeback as he believed he could still cut it in the premiership. The reason he packed it all in? He realized too much effort was needed and he wasn’t prepared to give it, just like when he was at Liverpool and Aston Villa.

On the other end of the scale players without bags of talent can succeed if their effort levels are so high that they exceed expectations. A prime example of this is Jamie Carragher, for years he’s been a utility player at Liverpool but the last 3 seasons under Rafa Benitez his effort has made sure he is now considered one of the finest defenders in Europe.

This all leads me to where England are failing. There can’t be complaints about the support they receive every match, I don’t think there has been an empty seat at a home game and they are always well represented away from home too. They were more than within their rights to boo the team off after another hopeless performance.

But the balance is wrong. They need not look too far to see a shining example of effort over talent, as just north of the border Scotland are top of a group that has 3 teams that made the World Cup finals and 2 that played out the last World Cup final. Obviously it’s early days but Scotland have beaten France so far and without McFadden and Fletcher, by far their two best players, beat a good Georgia side. One thing was evident from watching Scotland play this weekend and that was that every player on the park was playing for the fans, the shirt and the nation. Can England say the same of its players? Can anyone stick up for McLaren and honestly tell me that he’s doing his best to correct the team’s failings? Even the most avid English fan would struggle.

Then again, while the England squad is talented it’s lacking in the areas necessary to win on the international level. Without a creative force, or an on-form creative force, in the team who is willing to take it upon himself to single-handedly win a game, England have to resort to bullying the opposition. Being stronger and faster can only take you so far in international football, there needs to be another factor if you are to overcome the extreme variety of locations and opposition that you face.

When you are a big team like England, teams will set out their stall to frustrate you by putting 11 men behind the ball so just charging through the other teams defense can be futile, and has proven futile in the last five games. Everyone is harping on about the lack of invention, but putting Aaron Lennon on the left and incorporating 3 central midfielders into a 4 man midfield isn’t the way to do it.

Winning on any level, especially international, is about a balance of effort and talent. And right now England are struggling on both fronts.