As soon as the final whistle blew at Wembley on July 30th, 1966, the footballing expectations of a nation would be forever elevated to a height that would never be reached again. This was, of course, the day England lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy, better known as the FIFA World Cup. Since this illustrious triumph, England's most memorable World Cup journeys have ended at the quarter-final stage (1970, 1986, 2002, 2006), apart from a brave display at Italia '90 being ended at the semi-final stage by arch rivals (West) Germany, who were the eventual winners of the tournament. England's UEFA European Championship record is even more disappointing as they've only managed to reach two quarter-finals (2004 & 2012) since 1968, with a solitary semi-final appearance as the host nation coming in 1996. England were once again defeated by Germany, who were once again, the eventual winners of the tournament.
There have been many questions raised as to why a footballing nation as huge as England, which harbours what a lot of people (perhaps incorrectly) claim to be "the best league in the world", has never lived up to the people's expectation since 1966. In recent years, people have pointed the finger of blame toward the standard of coaching both at academy and grass root levels, claiming that the major reason for England's drought with regards to success is because the nation does not produce enough top quality players, possibly due to English mentality of looking for physical attributes over technical. A valid point, not helped by the fact that "experts" in the media put such emphasis on a players physical attributes, such as pace, when evaluating a players worth. Someone once shared the opinion that the English media believe that Mesut Ozil isn't a good player, but Jordan Henderson is. Only in England would you hear such a ridiculous assertion.
When you look at the pool of players various England managers have had to select their squads from over the past 15 years, you can understand why people feel a lack of quality is the only reason for the failure of English #Football, but in amongst the pools of players that have lacked depth, there have been a cluster of individuals that have been considered world class at one stage in their career. The likes of; Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen & Wayne Rooney almost make up a whole team of talents lauded by England fans across the country.
People also argue that the reason the English national team has been so unsuccessful in recent years, is because of the amount of foreign players currently playing in the English Premier League, despite the obvious positive influence they have had. They feel that players from other countries block the paths of young English players breaking through into first teams, particularly at the top level. The two major factors behind this are; the quality of young English players compared to young foreign players, and the price of young English players compared to their foreign counterparts. Luke Shaw had made just 60 appearances in the Premier League for Southampton before completing an astronomically high £30 million move to Manchester United. With that being said, the ability of the players can't be the (only) reason for England's failure, as teams with far less resources have achieved far greater things, e.g. Greece winning UEFA Euro 2004. So, what are the other detrimental factors holding English football back?
Of all the nations in the world, the English media are the group whose conduct most affects their national team. The English media is known for its unparalleled capability to build a person up, and then tear that person down from the very same pedestal that they placed them on, especially with regards to people in sport. There are numerous examples of this behaviour from recent history, none of which have caused positive results. From this stems one of the ways the media negatively impacts the success of the national team.
Countless people in the media will tell you XXX is a fantastic player. He's got everything and he's sure to be one of the best in the world." This is despite never having seen him play for long enough to make such a statement, but each time someone makes a declaration such as this, it raises the pressure on the player in question. Wayne Rooney is the biggest example of the past 10 years, and has come closest to fulfilling his potential, but will never be able to match the expectations placed upon him since a teenager. A more recent example is Jack Wilshere, whose injuries, lifestyle and footballing development have all come under scrutiny since he burst onto the scene as a 16 year old. He is now 22, so the next 5 years of his career are likely to be the most crucial. Looking into the not too distant future, we will no doubt see the same treatment for English players already labelled "superstars" throughout the media, like Luke Shaw (19), Raheem Sterling (19), Ross Barkeley (20) and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (21).
The media pressure the players find themselves under, trying to satisfy unattainable expectation translates to poor performances on the pitch, shown in the aforementioned major tournament history. The media overstate English players abilities, which consequently increases their potential sale value that forces people to look for cheaper alternatives, subsequently decreasing the number of English players in the top English division. If the media can transform the way they convey the countries expectations the national team will surely benefit. #Euro2016