FORMER England captain Alan Shearer is right when he says England have no chance of winning the World Cup because they have no world class players – and events on Tuesday night illustrated why perfectly.
While Cristiano Ronaldo was blasting a hat-trick to send Portugal to next year’s finals in Brazil, England were labouring to a second defeat at Wembley in the space of five days, this time against Germany.
Ronaldo is truly world class. He wins games on his own, including vital play-offs such as in midweek against Sweden, and deserves to be called the best player on the planet right now.
Wayne Rooney is the closest thing England have to world class. The Manchester United striker wants to do what Ronaldo does, but can’t.
That isn’t a criticism; it is just a case of being realistic. Germany are so far ahead of us because they have several players who are in the same bracket as Rooney. There is only a hair’s breadth between the likes of Mario Goetze, Mesut Ozil and Marco Reus and England’s talisman.
So I couldn’t help nodding in agreement as I heard Shearer – who expressed similar views in City A.M. last week – speak at the Aspire Academy in Qatar, where we are working for broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Since qualifying for the World Cup some of the language has already started drifting towards England feeling they should compete in the finals in Brazil.
We need to get out of this crazy fantasy land.
England have nothing near a world class player, so instead Roy Hodgson must try to forge a world class team – a settled side in which individuals play for each other.
This is where I think the manager is going wrong. Rather than experimenting with fringe players against Chile and Germany, he should be concentrating on cementing the spine of the team.
England don’t have 18 good players; they have 12 or 14 at the most. To have a chance of reaching the later knockout rounds in Brazil they will have to be solid and workmanlike.
Let’s stop faffing about and get our best players on the pitch.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who now works as a media commentator.