The Scousers took over the England team against Poland at Wembley as goals from Liverpool born players Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerard assisted by Kirby raised Leighton Baines meant the national team qualified for the World Cup Finals and you can back them at 20/1 to win the trophy. No European side has ever won the tournament in South America and only four sides from this continent are shorter in the betting than England.
Rooney has now scored more goals in the World Cup, both qualifiers and finals, than any other Englishman. He went one goal ahead of Gary Lineker when scoring for England at the end of the first half against Poland. The draft of this article was going to be an analysis of the market for next England manager and even with five minutes to go at Wembley that could still have been the theme.
If national teams don’t qualify for major finals the manager gets the sack. If Poland had scored a late equaliser England were heading for the play-offs and Roy Hodgson’s job would only be safe in the short term. However, with potential opponents over two legs including France and Portugal oddsmakers would be already framing betting markets on the next England manager.
The key to any European side’s chances in Brazil next summer is the city in which they play their group matches. Any side drawn to play near the Equator would face draining conditions more akin to Qatar in the summer than a European city during a mild summer. The humidity is horrendous even in the evening and those conditions will make it tough for any side playing out of their comfort zone. Fortaleza and Manaus are host cities to avoid.
During the Federations Cup last summer it was noticeable how stronger sides from South America and Asia were in matches near on the Equator. A city in the south of the country, such as Rio or Sao Paulo, would be an ideal base for England. The southern centres will be hot in the day but at least temperatures and humidity drop significantly at night so it’s more like playing during a European type summer evening.
England were 1/16 to qualify for the World Cup Finals before the match against Poland. As half time approached odds of 1.16 (about 1/6) were being matched on Betfair. England were still big favourites to make the festival of soccer in South America but the revised odds indicated a dip in confidence that the goal would be achieved.
As England missed a glut of chances in the first half memoires of the match against Pound at Wembley in 1973 came to mind. England needed to win that match to qualify for the 1974 Finals in West Germany. The side had 35 shots on goal but the match ended 1-1 and England were out. Even the late substitute Kevin Hector had a scuffed shot cleared off the line in injury time.
That result cost Sir Alf Ramsey his job so if a World Cup winning manager can be dismissed when his side miss out on playing in a major championship the consequences for Hodgson were clear if England had not qualified for Brazil 2014. Ukraine were heading towards the inevitable win against San Marino while England were doing everything but score against Poland.
One of England’s most effective outlets was Baines. He kept appearing deep in Poland territory with space on the left wing. It seemed unbearable that he had so much space and created so many chances that were not converted. However, Baines continued to play almost like a left winger and his excellent cross for Rooney to convert was the best of several dangerous deliveries.
Baines is now 11/10 to start England’s first match in the World Cup finals. He only got the chance to play in the key home matches against Montenegro and Poland because Ashley Cole was injured. Cole has played in three World Cups and has owned the left back position for more than 10 years. However, Baines is four years younger and more likely to handle playing conditions in Brazil.
Bet365 are offering 25/1 that Hodgson plays the same starting eleven in the first group match in Brazil. You could say eight players are bankers to play and then another one just about certain. However, the tricky choice for the manager is who to play in the full back positions. Cole and Kyle Walker would be favourites but Baines must now be considered and Walker may have been suspended at just the wrong time.
The other selection dilemma for the manager concerns Andros Townsend. Bookmakers can’t decide if he will play in the first match in Brazil and its 10/11 your pick across the bookmaking fraternity that he is selected for England’s first match in the World Cup. If he is sure to reproduce the form he has shown against Montenegro and Poland then he must start in the first group game next summer.
Rooney was named Man of the Match against Poland and he looked back to his best. When he plays with a smile on his face you know all is well in Wayne’s World. Coleen is safely on holiday with so many members of the clan that they stored 18 travelling bags in the hold. If the ultimate WAG is having fun her husband enjoys his football much more.
Rooney has now scored 38 goals for England in 86 appearances. Any player that scores a wonder goal past the current England goalkeeper aged 16, as he did for Everton against Arsenal with David Seamen their goalkeeper, will be subject to high expectations. However, given another five years without serious Rooney is on course to become the highest ever goalscorer for both Manchester United and England.
He is now odds on to surpass Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 goals for United and 49 goals for England. Lineker got within one goal of Sir Bobby’s total but his tally included 10 goals in World Cup finals. Rooney has never scored a goal in the World Cup proper and nor has Frank Lampard for that matter. Lampard can at least claim that he did score but his shot against Germany in South Africa in 2010 that was two feet over the line was not given. Over to you on that one Mr Blatter.
When Rooney was just 18 he scored four goals in the finals of the European Championships so he is proven in tournament play. However, he has always looked uncomfortable and off the pace in the World Cup but the whole country will be willing him to score some goals in Brazil next summer. We can even accept him kissing the badge as there is genuine feeling behind the gesture.
England would be setting a massive precedent by winning the World Cup next year in becoming the first side from the continent to win a tournament played in South America. Brazil have won the World Cup in Europe but it’s often the side from the hemisphere of the host country that are world champions. Only Germany, Spain, Belgium and Holland are shorter in the betting than England of the European contingent.
The encouraging aspect of the key matches against Montenegro and Poland has been the desire and hunger to attack and not sit back and defend a lead. In the past many England teams scored the first goal in the match only to sit back and concede the inevitable equaliser. England scored five goals in the 2002 World Cup but not one in the second half of their five matches.
England’s strength lies in attack even though the partnership between Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill is promising and Joe Hart looked confident against Poland. The side is more likely to win matches by pushing on for second and third goals than relying on a defence to survive an onslaught for most of the second half. In these circumstances the equaliser is inevitable. Hopefully, Hodgson will learn from past failings in this area by encouraging the team to push forwards through his body language on the sidelines and strategic substitutions.
England will not be in the top seeding band when the draw is made in December. I think its just about inevitable that we will play Brazil at some stage, An England versus Brazil match in the World Cup is the ultimate international as it brings together the country that invented the game and opponents that mastered it by winning the World Cup five times.
The matches in Brazil are perfectly scheduled for peak viewing in Europe. Betting in running will receive another boost but more significantly a side priced at 20/1 could win the World Cup in Rio, as long as the Scousers are in town.