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TLOTLDR - World Cup Blog Day 20 (20th June 2014)

So it's all going to be a bit eggy for the next few days.

England will be back at the Urca training camp on Saturday, preparing for what looks set to be a meaningless game (at least on our part) against Costa Rica next week. 

When we walk back into the media centre there, some minds might take a look at the purpose built facility with it's whitewashed walls and bright white tiled floors and wonder if this just another white elephant of English football. Like St George's Park? Like Wembley in both its guises? Like Lilleshall was before that?

Are we all fur coat and no knickers? No England team has been better prepared nor in a better collective frame of mind heading into a major tournament. A squad was picked with a blend of youth and experience that had most nodding their head sagely saying, "Finallly, we're looking to the future rather than the same old faces..." Or words to that effect. And yet the panic once again enveloped our players when the pressure was on.

Perhaps it's in the English psyche to be inhibited on the world stage. But those inhibitions weren't in evidence against the Italians in Manaus, which is probably why it's all the more demoralising to have seen them return 5 days later in São Paulo. But you cannot look at these 2 games in isolation and draw judgement, surely? We know that England for some time know aren't as good as we like to think they are, but there's nothing wrong with our ingrained patriotism letting us get positive about how far we can progress. That's natural, and such thoughts can get folk carried away sometimes. Which makes the downside of it just as pronounced and, in my view, imbalanced. 

The problems are much deeper rooted than the 180 minutes of football we've seen out here. That's why the FA Commission was formed, although it's fair to say that they've not covered themselves in glory with part 1 of their findings - part 2 on coaching may be a more productive document - God knows it needs to be for all the meetings and quangos they've set up on it.

Roy Hodgson should stay in the job in my opinion. If there's one thing we do badly wrong, it's throwing the baby out with the bath water and losing all hope of continuity right at the top. In the last 15 years, from Keegan to Eriksson to McLaren to Capello, we've continually ripped up the coaching manual in a desperate search for the quick fix. Let's not forget Charles Hughes, one of the worst appointments in the FA's history during the 90's, a man who believed in hoof ball bringing results and with no interest in skill, dribbling or drifting past players that coaches try to bring out of precocious young talent.

Funny how Roy was getting positive reviews for his tactical approach against Italy, but appears to have no credit in the bank after Uruguay. Everything is knee jerk, just as in the Premier League. Short termism rules, and for every 'exception' like Chelsea that changes managers every full moon and still wins things, there's the 'rule' of so many others who follow suit and continuously fail at great cost.

I've seen a change in England in the last 2 years. The diagonal fight ball from full backs in their own half has all but gone - go watch Sam Allardyce's teams if you miss that; Joe Hart no longer clatters the ball downfield every time it's in his possession (although the irony there is that Uruguay's winner came from that very tactic) and there is -generally speaking - more care taken with the ball when we have it. Roy has cast off the 'arch pragmatism' stigma that's dogged him since he took over, and picked Sterling to start, brought Barkley on and no doubt would've utilised Oxlade-Chamberlain too, had circumstances been different.

And another thing. We've spent decades playing in 'straight lines' with no appreciation of angles on the pitch save for a Gascoigne or a Hoddle to briefly raise our hopes. Surely now we've started to cast off that particular millstone from around our necks and show in some small part a willingness to look beyond the obvious pass, the backwards of square ball, the percentage punt into the channels, haven't we?

These are only minor improvements, however, and I am not suggesting for one moment that we are world beaters in waiting. But the idea of making yet another switch when it's clear that the coach a) wants to stay and b) wants to continue to introduce a new generation of players, then why change it for changes sake? The late great Sir Bobby Robson's England were abject at Euro '88, way way worse than what we've seen here in 2014, and yet despite the horrific personal headlines chucked his way, he was allowed to stay on and 2 years on we were 12 yards away from a World Cup final.

Gary Neville's role is important here too. He has been a great sounding board for Hodgson and a shrewd appointment as a player who really made the most of his technical ability, and appreciated the way his club manager drove him on to succeed and not let his standards drop nor become preoccupied with the financial rewards that being a top flight English player brings in the modern era. His relationship with Roy has developed to a point where the manager appears happy to take on board Neville's thoughts and ideals on a gradual but necessary change of personnel.

But that burgeoning relationship between old guard and new broom may not be enough. Roy needs all the allies he can get, and the man who appointed him, David Bernstein, has left his post at the FA; Sir Trevor Brooking, another close associate of his, is off shortly too. Which on the face of it leaves the manager horribly exposed. Greg Dyke would do well to remember his throat slitting gesture on seeing the draw England got at this World Cup. If he were to sack the manager who appeared to his mind to have an impossible task of qualification would be folly.

I've had reaction on Twitter to Stuart Pearce's thoughts on TalkSPORT last night which I mentioned in my previous blog, and the response has been mostly 'Oh well, he played David James up front once, what does he know?' Or 'Well, he predicted a 3-0 England win last night, so what does he know?'.

People have to take things so personally and work out their neurosis on individuals who they see as being part of the problem, rather than say 'Ok, let's look at what a former England U21 coach has to say, having been in the setup until relatively recently and have a reasoned debate about it' But no; again it's knee jerk grandstanding and posturing. 

Lots of Alpha Male testosterone flying about as usual. It was ever thus.


England-Uruguay reaction

Only one England team has dealt with World Cup pressure in the last 13 years, but they were rugby players. TCUP anyone?

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