State of the Nation: ‘Depressing’ and ‘yawn-inducing’ – why England fail to attract interest

THE big news coming out of the England camp in the final days of 2014 was that manager Roy Hodgson plans to meet his squad towards the end of this month for a catch-up.

England manager Roy Hodgson.

It hardly seems worth the bother, what with 2015 offering little of genuine interest for supporters of the national team other than when Wayne Rooney finally breaks Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record.

At the moment, Rooney is three behind Charlton’s 49 and, considering the poor standard of opposition in England’s Euro 2016 qualifying group, that tally may well have been eclipsed by the summer.

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Once that record has been broken by Rooney, 2015 seems to offer little more than a continuation of England’s seamless – and yawn-inducing – procession towards booking a place in France for next year’s Championships. UEFA’s ridiculous decision to extend the number of competing countries by half to 24 has seen to that, in tandem with a qualifying draw that can only be described as “laughably easy”.

England have taken a maximum 12 points from qualifiers to take such an iron grip on Group E that even Devon Loch could not fail to win from such a position.

Not much point, therefore, for Hodgson to host a get-together later this month, as it is doubtful that England’s next opponents – the mighty Lithuania – will warrant any additional preparation time than a couple of days in March.

The plan, we are told, is to also stage a debrief on last year as well as discuss the way forward in 2015. But, again, surely 12 months that brought humiliation on the global stage can be best summed up in three words. Not. Good. Enough.

Perhaps the best gauge as to where the Three Lions are at this moment came from Hodgson’s own mouth shortly before Christmas.

When discussing his personal highlight of 2014, Hodgson revealed it was being applauded by the England fans who had travelled to Brazil after the dead rubber goalless draw against Costa Rica at the World Cup.

How utterly depressing and typical of the lack of ambition that infests the Three Lions’ set-up right now.

Belo Horizonte should have been the nadir, as a once proud football nation slunk off home after embarrassing themselves.

Instead, it was the manager’s personal highlight.

Is it any wonder that the atmosphere surrounding the national team is so flat?