England World Cup Prediction: WITH and WITHOUT Barkley


England on the front foot for once?

You can say all you like about soccersweep jumping on the bandwagon in terms of getting the youngsters in the England team for the World Cup.

But we don’t want players like Shaw, Barkley and Sterling in the starting eleven because they are young – but because they are the best players England have.

Leighton Baines is a good player but Shaw is already better. Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana will put in a shift on the wings and try to help out their defence. But Sterling will destroy the opposition, given the chance.

Too often we see a reactionary England. Managers who set their team out to avoid slaughter and leave the flair players on the bench to be brought on ‘if needed’ with 20 minutes to go.

But why can’t we do it the other way around? Why can’t we be proactive? Why can’t England go out and get the game won in the first 60 minutes with our best players, just like the best Liverpool and Manchester United sides have always done?

It’s certainly not the case of either or with Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley. Both can easily fit into the side. Indeed England would be immeasurably better off with the two of them in there.

You’d have to be pretty unobservant not to have noticed the difference that Barkley made in the second half against Honduras. All of a sudden England went from static to mobile. Running at and getting in behind the opposition. Barkley, unlike so many England players, passes the ball forward every time he gets it. It frightens the life out of the opposition and it’s exactly what England needs. He quickened the pace of the game and asked all sorts of questions of Honduras. He rushed them into mistakes instead of allowing them time to re-find their shape.

Without Barkley England look unadventurous and slow on the ball – too ready to play a sideways pass instead of getting it forward on the ground with speed and intelligence. Barkley does that every time. And when he gives the ball away? He’s in the face of the opposition with that monstrous frame in the blink of an eye. A wonderful specimen with that rare combination of speed and power – a balletic bulldozer if you will.

Sure Barkley and Sterling could do serious damage coming on for the last 20 minutes as substitutes in the heat of Brazil. But do you think that team Brazil thinks like that? Leave your most creative players on the bench to try to snatch a goal in the last 20?

I really don’t think so, do you? Brazil start with their best players and take the game to the opposition.

Why must we wait until after another disappointing World Cup showing to decide that it’s time to blood the youngsters? Because that is what happens with England at every tournament. Welbeck and Lallana are decent players but Barkey and Sterling are devastating.

Just like a famous pundit once said about Tom Cleverley – he’s neat and tidy but so is my wife and I wouldn’t pick her for United. The same can be said of Lallana. He’s got a lovely touch but he’s too often going backward and doesn’t have the pace to damage defences from out wide. Yet he somehow appears to be the darling of the press and the England team. Lallana keeps the ball well but slows the tempo.

Playing Sterling and Sturridge as the widish men in a 4-2-3-1 would be so much more penetrative – getting the ball from back to front much quicker and offering lightning fast counter attacks – just like Liverpool last season.

For soccersweep it’s painfully frustrating that the front four against Italy may well include Lallana and Welbeck instead of Barkley and Sterling. Because, while the former pair will offer hard work and solidity, a front four of Barkley at number 10, Sterling (right) and Sturridge (left) playing either side of Rooney up top would be the best front four that England have had in living memory.

We know that its a marathon and not a sprint. But England have the chance to blow Italy away, top the group and gain huge confidence in the first game. In so doing they would also take the pressure right off the second game and make Italy fight for their lives against Uruguay – all of these circumstances would work in England’s favour. But with the older and more workmanlike formation England will probably draw their first game, lose the initiative and be even more frightened to attack against Uruguay. Typical England on the back foot and relying on their decent defence to avoid abject humiliation.

Roy. You must think like the Brazilians! Take the game to Italy with Barkley starting. With him at number ten England can achieve a glorious semi-final appearance. But without him and Sterling it will be the same old story for England and they may struggle to even get out of the group.

England have rarely, if ever, had 4 such good attackers in the same squad. Hodgson must use them from the start if England are going to mount a serious challenge. The cameos should be reserved for Welbeck, Lallana and Lampard – more experienced heads to see games out. But get your main men on from the start – the damage mongers. Just like Brazil.

Fortune favours the brave Roy.

England fans: What do you think?




  1. Chris

    Jun 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Shaw better than Baines!?!? Are you mad!!! Clearly don’t know much about football!!

  2. Jim

    Jun 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    I was just about to stop reading and leave this website for good when you said that Shaw is already better than Baines. That’s an absolute load of rubbish and you know it. Shaw isn’t anywhere near as good as Baines. OPTA stats don’t lie. Baines even created the most chances out of any player in all of Europe last season – that isn’t something Shaw will come anywhere near to doing at any point in his career. Shaw has potential, but he’s nowhere near there yet. Baines is still England’s (and arguably, the world’s) best left back.

    However, you did redeem yourself with saying that Barkley and Sterling should start instead of Welbeck and Lallana. That won’t happen though. Roy prefers a dead game with no expectations.

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