Following United at the World Cup – England

Every time a national tournament comes around, the nation gets into this state of jingoism, a nationalist wave that is usually crassly unrealistic and ultimately ends in desolation and heartbreak.

So, can this England side buck the trend, and become the anomaly and go all the way in Brazil? 48 years of pain suggests the nation’s malaise on the biggest stage will continue.

With the 23 man squad consisting of 4 United players, Rooney, Welbeck, Jones and Smalling. United fans will have a vested interest on England’s progress in Brazil, with much talk and speculation surrounding the quartet, not least at club level.

Seen as Paul Rowles has carried out this column with journalists and experts across the globe, it’s my turn to ask him some questions on England.

England go to all international tournaments with expectations through the roof despite of previous failures. Is it different this time round after a dreadful World Cup campaign in South Africa 2010?

Judging by how cataclysmic and anti-climactic the exit from the 2010 World Cup was, in a way England go into this tournament with perceived lowered expectations. That said, Hodgson has elected for a blend of youth and experience which has excited England supporters and pundits alike. England will be hoping the youthful exuberance of the Shaw’s, Barkley’s, Sterling’s and the like will play without the burden of previous humiliations, which bodes well. The noises coming out of the camp suggests that they are ready to enthrall, but the proof will be in the pudding.

How difficult is it for a United fan to take warmly to the England national team when you see Rooney being made a scapegoat, Rio paying the price of John Terry’s racist actions and burning effigies of Beckham on the streets?

It is extremely difficult, nigh-on impossible in fact to be stoked for any England game. It is not just Rooney who has branded over-rated, the villain, the scapegoat. Take a look down memory lane, Paul Scholes was never given a fair crack of the whip for England, deployed on the left-flank to accommodate the lionhearts and undroppable Gerrard and Lampard. Rio getting preposterously vilified in the John Terry race affair was another completely unacceptable incident, but that is what happens when you are hugely successful- people will take any and every opportunity to shoot you down. The list is relatively exhaustive with Beckham, Scholes, both the Neville brothers, Rio and Rooney, which certainly taints United fans view of England.

Realistically, how far do you see England going in this summer’s World Cup?

They should progress from the Group stage with relative ease, although they never make it easy for themselves. Once it gets to the crunch of knockout competition, the pressure is cranked up ten fold and that is usually when England buckle. Quarter finals will be a bonus and probably the most they can hope for.

Your current England XI?

Scholesy, although it must have pained him to say it, was right when he stated that England should adopt the Liverpool approach. Their brand of football was exciting and was reminiscent of the successful United teams- pace on the counter.

Here is my XI: (4-2-3-1)

Hart, Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Baines, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck, Sturridge

United > England. How do you see it?

This is an easy question and I will answer it with a relatively easy to translate initialism, that is very well-known among match-going United fans.


You can follow Paul on Twitter – @RowlesPaul

More Stories Chris Smalling Danny Welbeck David Beckham Manchester United Michael Carrick Paul Scholes Phil Jones Tom Cleverley Wayne Rooney World Cup