England manager Roy Hodgson may hope for a glorious international tournament debut, but the odds of European success are highly stacked against him.
With striker Wayne Rooney suspended for two games and several key players out injured, England’s first Euro trophy looks further away than ever.
Traditionally English supporters arrive at major tournaments singing harmoniously in the hope that success is only around the corner. But this time the choir is somewhat muted.
Indeed, England are heading into Euro 2012 with more questions than answers.
…hole in midfield…
And with a manager whose reign only began in early May, subdued expectations are hardly surprising. Whilst the three lions boast a world class back five, a hole in midfield is compounded by a lack of options up front.
Uncertainty also reigns out wide as Hodgson must choose between James Milner, the untested Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or the eternally underwhelming Steward Downing and Theo Walcott.
…struggled with ball retention.
Though positives come in the form of defensive organisation, England have struggled with ball retention. And two rigid lines of four often leave the two forwards isolated.
Meanwhile, with such little time for Hodgson to fully implement his footballing ethos, comparisons with other contenders leave little in the way of optimism.
Spain and Germany have built on recent success. And England’s group opponents France head into proceedings on the back of a 21-game unbeaten run.
Alas, for an England team with no set starting eleven, an unbeaten run beyond two friendly wins seems a lot to ask for.
…frustrate even the strongest…
Perhaps efficient defending can frustrate even the strongest opponents in Poland and Ukraine but England are unlikely to win Euro 2012.
Things may look promising for the future but national affairs are muddled at present. Focus must turn to the re-building process; only then will we have a truly successful tournament.