England created the game of football and has had terrific players feature in the national team. On top of that the Premier League is the most watched, most competitive and richest league in the world. However, that success cannot be transferred to the national team.
But why is that? let’s find out. Ever since England won the World Cup in 1966, there has been a lot of heartbreak, disappointments, humiliations and nearly moments. Let’s go through every era of English football to uncover why they have struggled for so long.
England under Sir Alf Ramsey
Alf Ramsey was the man that helped bring England’s only international trophy to date. He did an amazing job and had very talented players. In 1970 England headed to the World Cup as the defending champions and still possessed much of the team that won four years prior. England and Brazil were the favourites, and played each other on the group stage. They lost to Brazil but defeated Romania and Czechoslovakia to proceed to the quarterfinal.
Facing West Germany, the team they beat in the final four years before, the Three Lions had a 2-0 lead going into the second half. Throughout the game, Charlton and Beckenbauer faced off against each other and would cancel each other out just like in the World Cup final. With a 2–0 advantage, Ramesy took off Charlton to save him for the semi-final. However, this gave Beckenbauer more breathing room and West Germany ended up beating England 3–2 in extra time.
In 1974, England did not even qualify despite having an easy route to do so. They had to play Wales and Poland. But the reason they didn’t win again was most likely due to believing they had already won before they had done so.
England under Sir Bobby Robson
Sir Bobby Robson was a fantastic manager and under him, England experienced another golden generation. They had excellent players such as Glenn Hoddle, Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton and Terry Butcher.
In 1986, they made it to the quarter-final of the World Cup where they played Argentina. Everyone knows about the ‘Hand of God’ goal from Diego Maradona, but Peter Shilton should have really commanded his area and won the ball.
As for the second goal, that was just Maradona’s genius but right before his goal his little feint completely bamboozled Shilton even though it wasn’t that good. Nevertheless, it was largely felt that England lost to Maradona rather than Argentina.
Sven-Goran Eriksson had so many outstanding players at his disposal such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Sholes and Frank Lampard. Eriksson got them to a quarter-final against Portugal before losing on penalties.
Ultimately, the team was not set up right as the 4–4–2 would leave Scholes to play on the wing. A 4–3–3 would have accommodated Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes. In addition, there was a lot of rivalry between players. This was in the days before social media, when it was far easier to make friends.
Despite the talent, they had the best since 1966 it wasn’t the happiest camp in the world. Furthermore, tactics played a role as well. But one of the things that Gareth Southgate later got right was harmony in the dressing room.
Gareth Southgate: another Golden Generation
Gareth Southgate took the reigns from Roy Hodgson back in 2016 after the humiliating defeat to Iceland at the Euros. It took some time, but Southgate appeared to transform the team. In 2018 England shocked their own fans when they made it to the semifinal of the World Cup in Russia.
Unfortunately, they lost out to Croatia largely due to their complacency. After Kieran Trippier scored a sublime free-kick in the fourth minute, Croatia began to dominate. Southgate took a long time to change his tactics and put on substitutes. By the time he did, it was too late. This became a trend as in the 2020 Euros final after England scored early on, Italy grew in the game. Southgate took far too long to combat this and consequently it went to penalties.
He brought on players who had not touched the ball to take penalties. Furthermore, making a 19-year-old Bukayo Saka take 5th was borderline idiotic. In the most recent World Cup, Southgate failed to make changes and Harry Kane missed his second penalty of the evening to miss out on the semi-finals.
It is a happy camp but under Southgate, they have been complacent and have missed amazing opportunities to win a trophy.