I’ve just returned from a fortnight holiday in Brazil and it was absolutely brilliant apart from the form of the Three Lions.
I wish I knew the answer as to why we have continually failed at the major tournaments. I mean, from the 1998 World Cup onwards we have had individuals at our disposal that are a good as anyone. However, when it comes to performing as a unit and as a team, we struggle.
It’s an old cliché that football is a team game but it doesn’t stop it being anymore true. Just look at Greece when they won Euro 2004; a superb team that lacked individual quality. Even at this World Cup, the likes of Costa Rica and Algeria have shown the strengths in having a cohesive unit instead of 11 world-class players.
In previous tournaments we’ve always been solid at the back but struggle to find the back of the net. However, it was roles reversed in Brazil as Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson, despite having impressive Premier League seasons, struggled and Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill weren’t much better.
It must be said, we looked exciting, fresh and positive when going forward and that is credit to Roy Hodgson who, despite our early exit, took the right squad, got the preparation spot-on and established one of the happiest England camps for years.
I always believe an England manager should be given a four-year cycle but that four-year cycle should begin after a World Cup. If I were the FA, I’d give Roy a two-year contract extension with the aim to build a young, exciting, athletic and pacey England side that can win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The bigwigs of the English game continually talk about 2022 being the World Cup England should be aiming to succeed in but the harsh reality is, they won’t because of the heat.
2018 will be perfect, the likes of Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley will have matured and developed further, Theo Walcott will be in his peak years and we’d still even have Wayne Rooney.
West Ham’s new signings
I was down the training ground for the new kit launch – love the new kit, by the way. It has a very boys of ’86 feel about it – and the atmosphere was great with all the lads excited for the first day of pre-season.
The new signings seemed happy to be at West Ham and I know Sam is excited by their arrivals, especially the powerful and athletic Cheikhou Kouyate.
Mauro Zarate has really got to prove himself, though, as it didn’t exactly work out for him at Birmingham City.
The signing of Aaron Cresswell is one I really welcome as I cover a lot of Championship football for Sky Sports and the left-back has continually impressed me at Ipswich Town.
With regards to more signings, I was going to say another striker but as Sam prefers to play just the one up top, we probably have enough in the ranks with Zarate, Andy Carroll, Ricardo Vaz Te and Carlton Cole.
I suppose, really, we are looking for more squad cover, strength-in-depth. Maybe a new centre-back, cover at left-back and one or two more options in midfield.
West Ham’s aims for next season
I think fans are pretty understanding and accepting of the fact we aren’t going to go to the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United and play free-flowing, expansive football. However, at Upton Park, Sam realises he needs to produce exciting and attacking football, much like our first season back in the Premier League.
We kind of lost our way in the last campaign but if we can find a happy medium, a good balance between the players, the style and the atmosphere, there is no doubting that the Hammers shouldn’t be getting into the top 10.
The top seven are pretty much nailed on and, although it would be nice, breaking into that elite club is a bit beyond West Ham…for now. Finishing in 8th, 9th or 10th spot should certainly be West Ham’s aim and we are certainly more than capable of doing so. Clubs like Swansea City and Southampton have done it in recent seasons and you can’t tell me they’re bigger than West Ham.
Tony Cottee was talking to Forever West Ham’s Editor
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