Terry Wills talks briefly about Albion, and at length about England.
Four years in the making, 180 minutes to dismantle. Roy Hodgson’s England squad arrived in Brazil exuding confidence, and despite being drawn in a difficult group, many knowledgeable experts expressed the opinion that we had sufficient quality to progress through to the knockout stages of the world’s greatest sporting competition.
For me it was time to dig out my World Cup Willie T shirt and cap, the symbol bringing back happy memories of the time I was privileged to be present at Wembley 48 long years ago, as Bobby Moore lifted the trophy on the back of that Geoff Hurst “They think it’s all over” hat-trick .
Due to unrelenting media coverage, even non-football followers know we’ve already returned home from far-off Brazil. Defeats against Italy and Uruguay meant that the draw in the final game against Costa Rica earned a single, pointless point.
So who or what were the reasons for the early exit? Was the decision to play Wayne Rooney a major factor? Was the wrong team selection a contributory factor? Should Roy Hodgson have selected many of the promising young players from day one?
Every pundit, as always, has their individual viewpoint but for me the blunt truth is simple. The players, in comparison to the genuine world-class talent available to other nations, simply weren’t good enough No point in dwelling any further. It’s time to look ahead to the next challenge – Europe 2016.
Hodgson has refused to resign and why should he? He did his best and I can’t name another manager, with these players at his disposal, who could have improved matters. In his favour he does have several talented young players to call on, and who, should they maintain their current rate of progress, will be strong contenders in an England side capable of testing the likes of Holland, Spain, and France.
Back to Brazil, and the question who will be crowned world champions on July 13th-unlucky for some? Based on the nightly television coverage I feel that up to now there hasn’t been a truly outstanding candidate. Logically the South American sides with home advantage and massive support have to be favourites. Brazil have been a disappointment so far but with Lionel Messi displaying his breathtaking skills and goalscoring ability, Argentina must be serious contenders.
European hopes rest on West Germany, France and Holland, unless by the time you read this they’ve been eliminated!
Good luck to every team left in the competition apart from Uruguay. One of the world’s greatest players, Luis Suarez, deserved more than the light sentence he received bearing in mind his third biting offence. But even so, even with him playing in the knockout stages, their cynical blind eye, see nothing attitude stinks to high heaven.
A final thought on the tournament; congratulations to Ben Foster who deserved a chance to
represent England and certainly didn’t let Roy Hodgson down.
As for Foster’s, and my, club, following the massive furore at the Hawthorns since Alan Irvine was appointed, I’ll wait to see what transpires before the new season opens. It promises to be an interesting one.