Another World Cup, another Home nations failure
With Euro 2016 consisting of four home nations, things were looking up, especially as both the Irish and Northern Irish progressed to the playoffs. Wales were pipped by the Greens and Scotland improved but still look short of the sufficient quality to qualify for the international showpiece.
Three Lions fly the flag…once again
Not since the 2002 tournament in South Korea/Japan has a home nation other than England qualified for the World Cup. England have been flying the flag (albeit limply) but have been the only regular qualifier for tournaments. Ireland and Northern Ireland were near misses. Meanwhile, Scotland only looked like having an outside chance from the start and Gordon Strachan’s post-campaign comments were quite damning.
For Wales, it was a disappointing end to a promising campaign. The Dragons were tipped to end the run of 60 years since their last World Cup appearance. But unfortunately, they were surprised by a home defeat against the Republic of Ireland, who then went on to get absolutely hammered at home by Christian Eriksen and co.
Meanwhile, for Scotland it was a case of the same old, same old. They were typically hard to beat; they’re no longer the whipping boys but they lack the cutting edge to look dangerous.
Who are the “star players” who are not able to drag their sides to tournaments?
Well, it’s perfectly clear, Portugal has had one in Cristiano Ronaldo for this past decade. Wales have had Bale for four years and only have a Euros semi-final to show. Scotland has arguably not had any world class players in their ranks since the era of Ally McCoist. Meanwhile, for Ireland, their top players in the last 20 years have been the Keanes: Roy and Robbie (no relations). But they’ve had to solely rely on playing as a unit and hoping for the odd slice of luck. The fruits of their labour in the past two decades have been two Euros appearances and a World Cup.
Is the future bright for any of our other home nations?
When Greg Dyke took on the role of chairman of the Football Association his vision was for a 2022 World Cup triumph and it does not look as far-fetched as when he initially laid it out. With England triumphing in the U17 and U20 World Cups this year, plus a sterling performance in the U21 European Championships, the question is how to transition these young starlets into world beaters as part of a cohesive unit. For starters, more game time at the top level, as in Spain, they have almost twice as many as their U21 English counterparts. But with the focus on quick results, managers appear less willing to take the risk on academy products.
Meanwhile, for the Scots, prospects are improving with a better youth system. With the likes of Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson coming through at Celtic and Liverpool respectively, the future is promising for Scotland. The only reason it would not be promising is if you listen to garbage like what Strachan put out, such as:
“Genetically, we are behind”