Marred by controversy, the English National Team enters the 2012 edition of the UEFA European Championship with little expectation. Starting with John Terry being stripped of his captain’s armband after the Chelsea and then England skipper allegedly racially abused QPR’s Anton Ferdinand, to Fabio Capello’s resignation as manager, to the surprising appointment of Roy Hodgson as boss, the English haven’t had the best of preparations coming into the summer’s showdown. Adding to their woes, star striker Wayne Rooney will also miss the first two group games due to suspension.
Their qualifying campaign was a good one, however, with the team picking up 18 points out of a possible 24 and scoring 17 goals while letting just five slip past. With the F.A’s questionable selection of Hodgson ahead of former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp raising many an eyebrow in the country as well as overseas, hopes and expectations have never been lower for the Three Lions.
The squad looks good, with league-winning Manchester City custodian Joe Hart in goal. John Terry and Hart’s City team-mate Joleon Lescott form the partnership at the back, with Liverpool’s Glen Johnson and Chelsea’s Ashley Cole providing the width. The industrious legs of Scott Parker will hold play in midfield, while Liverpool and current captain Steven Gerrard pulls the strings from the middle of the park. Hodgson has tough decisions to make regarding selections for the wings, with Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and the teen sensation Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain offering intriguing options. However, with Rooney out, Young is expected to play just off the revelation of last season’s Barclays Premier League, Danny Welbeck, narrowing down the manager’s options.
Pace bursting through their wings can be fundamental in capping off quick counters, considering the style with which Hodgson approaches the game. The fact that they start as outsiders might just work to their advantage, as history suggests. Taking Chelsea’s domestic cup and European campaign as an example, the beautiful game never ceases to amaze, and England can be quietly confident about their chances this summer.