For the sake of their tradition, expectations, and potential, England’s decision makers are hopeful this trend of terrible, unfortunate, and unlucky World Cup performances and results won’t go on in perpetuity. As of 2016, the FA which formed in 1863, the first football association in the world—had placed their trust in the hands of technical director, Dan Ashworth.
The Daily Mail: a conservative British tabloid with a circulation of about two million put out an article in 2016, delineating the plans of Ashworth and the FA to correct the past and prepare for the future. Without much detail, the article illuminated England’s growing concern with improving their national team’s standard of play as was indicated in the title of the article: “FA masterplan to win World Cup in 2022 includes hiring specialist coaches to help with possession and ball control,” which was interesting, considering possession has proven to be a salient issue for the Three Lions.
Further concern was echoed from a piece in the DailyMail.com, February 18, 2016, by Charles Sale: “The FA’s masterplan aimed at winning the World Cup in 2022 includes hiring an array of specialist coaches for when England have the ball, when they do not have the ball—and when they are kicking it. The FA are advertising on their website for national technical coaches, with the job descriptions saying: ‘We are changing how we work, reallocating resources and investing heavily to create a team of exceptional people capable of creating winning England teams.’”
Without question, members of the FA are cognizant of the grave issues at hand, but a cynic would hasten to point out, it’s not without superiority naivety. In typical fashion, they’ve conceded negligence on their part, pledging to fix it. However, their means of steering the ship in the right direction might have more to do with English pride than actually doing it right. By the FA’s own concession, they intend to act on real change with English soccer, just as Napoleon promised the farm animals that things would change for the better. To some, it’s nothing but old ideas disguised as new and improved action. Such critics are familiar with England as a steward of such promises in accordance with the underlining subtext: We will change things. Change will come—as long as it follows closely in line with what we’ve already been doing.
On the flipside, one could say they’re on a progressive path to making their program better. The relationship with the FA and coaching is, and always will be, combined as one, so to speak, seeking to guide the team toward a better future.
And, as usual, notwithstanding past disappointment, England has every reason in the world to win the World Cup again. When that might be, is anyone’s guess. After losing to Iceland in the 2016 European Cup, they have as good a chance of winning the World Cup in Russia as they would boarding a spaceship with Nick Pope on route to Andromeda. But, low and behold, after leading a strong World Cup qualification campaign, they’re among the favorites in Russia.
They’ve had a profound influence on the game with their successful club teams and their consistent winning with the national team. Entering Russia 2018, the English are equipped with a phenomenal lineup, one they think has the potential to bring the trophy back to where they feel it belongs.
All of the history and all of the issues with England makes them one of the most exciting teams to watch.