England 16-1 to conquer Europe

Date published: 25 June 2014


ENGLISH sport has seen better times. Our early World Cup exit might have been expected in some quarters, but it was still bitterly disappointing.

And our cricketers are, if anything, faring even more poorly. From being arguably the best team in the world when they beat Australia in the Ashes last summer, England are now second-best to a Sri Lankan side that has only a couple of world-class players.

Now England’s World Cup football campaign is over, attention will be focused on the European Championship in France in 2016.

England have such an easy group they can’t fail to qualify, hence quotes of 1-66 to reach the finals.

Roy Hodgson will be the man steering the ship to France, and rightly so. It would have made no sense to replace him with a manager of similar standing who would have used the same players and many of the same tactics. Appointing a foreign manager has never worked.

What I would say, though, is that Hodgson must use the qualifiers to play the youngsters who may then be ready for the finals themselves.

The side should be built around the likes of Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, John Stones and Jack Wilshere, while it’s time to jettison defenders who can’t defend - Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Glenn Johnson.

Steven Gerrard should go, and Wayne Rooney should perhaps no longer be an automatic choice. If England can get it right, then 16-1 about their becoming champions of Europe might look tempting in two years.

Meanwhile, our cricketers take on India in a five-test series in a couple of weeks and I can’t work out why we are 5-6 to come out on top, and the visitors 7-4.

India might have been beaten 4-0 here on their last visit, but England had all their big guns then, and a better captain in Andrew Strauss.

Strauss may not have been a tactical genius, but he was a leader of men. Decent guy though Alastair Cook is, he is not the man to steer our team through choppy waters.