England have found their way into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after beating Poland 2 – 0. Thanks to Hodgson’s excellent focus, paying attention to what’s happening today, rather than what happened in the past. Changing things up a little, Hodgson decided to start the United duo of Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling. It’s not surprising that Hodgson has chosen these two but, to start them in such an important match was an interesting choice, nonetheless.
Michael Carrick was slipped into the squad to replace the venerable Frank Lampard in midfield. The midfielder has had a solid history in the Premier League, having left Tottenham for Man. United in 2006 for a whopping £18.6 Million. While not the goal scoring powerhouse that either Lampard or Gerrard have become known for over the years, Carrick is a solid all-rounder.
Chris Smalling has come in to replace Kyle Walker from Tottenham as a Yellow Card prevented Walker from playing against the Poles. The 23-year old has been playing for the England senior squad since 2011, with the win against Poland being his 7th appearance for the team. A relative unknown to some, Smalling is a solid defender who was sold to Man. United for £10 Million from Fulham in 2010. As a member of the younger generation that’s set to breathe new life into the England squad, Smalling has a lot to prove.
Starting players aside, Hodgson and his squad were well aware that only a win would guarantee their place in Brazil next year. Thanks to goals from Rooney and Gerrard, the England squad will be learning how to control mosquitoes as they get ready to play in the hot South American climate. Taking their place in Group H along with the Ukraine, England have qualified.
In one of the more exciting World Cup qualifiers as of late, the Polish team gave England a lot to worry about. Even though England were ahead 1 – 0 going into the second half, it looked like Poland could have equalized at any minute. Thanks to a solid hit from Gerrard in the 88th minute though, it was beyond doubt that England would be heading to the 2014 world cup.
Now that the England squad have qualified for 2014, it seems that the team’s stroke of bad luck could be over, as things start to look up. After a rough few years for English football, everything seems in place for a solid performance next year however, Hodgson will have his work cut out for him. As a new generation of players start to take their places, blending the old with the new will be his biggest challenge next year in South America. Can he bring the team together? Or will we see communication issues like we have before?
All of these questions and more will be answered next year, as England take their 15th appearance in a Football world cup. Can we hope for another 1966? At this stage, anything seems possible.