You might not be hearing it from the England camp, but there is no denying they have got a great chance of winning the World Cup; these boys are right in the mix.
I know everybody in the squad has been playing it down - probably because of the coach - but we have plenty of world-class players, players that are feared by other countries. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, are up there with the likes of Lionel Messi when it comes to the best in the world. The majority of our players regularly compete against the top players with their clubs and are, you have to say, on a par with them.
Also we have an incredible half of the draw (England to win 6/1) - it couldn't be more favourable. One game I can't get out of my mind is the friendly defeat by Spain back in February when they outplayed us, but we had a few missing that night and the one thing that you have to take into account is that England's draw is so kind, they won't be playing a Spain (7/2) or a Brazil (9/2) - my two favourites - until the semi-finals or final anyway.
In the past England's problem has been we have expected so much yet delivered too little. This time, I really don't see any reason why that can't be the other way round.
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And when you get to that stage, anything can happen, it really can. Luck is something England never seem to get in major tournaments but if that can change then I do think this bunch of players can go all the way.
The heat won't be a problem for once and although the altitude and new ball are causing concern, the only people I've heard moaning about it are goalkeepers - which is good news. Instead of being 20 yards out and fancying a pop, expect people to be doing it from 30 yards out. Gerrard and Lampard, Gareth Barry and James Milner are excellent free-kick takers and we have a few, not least Rooney, who can and are not afraid to strike the ball from distance.
Look at those factors and there is plenty going in England's favour in South Africa. But I am pleased we have heard nothing like that coming out of the England camp; these boys know they have to keep their heads down and work hard first and foremost. And they know if they do come out and make predictions or tell the world they're going to do this and that, if they don't toe the line, then Fabio Capello will be on them like a tonne of bricks.
Capello is another reason, why England can do it. He is a tough man as he showed - rightly or wrongly - by dropping Theo Walcott from his final 23. Under previous regimes, players were coming out and saying all sorts of things and making all sorts of predictions and you just didn't feel there was that same respect, or even fear, or previous managers. Let's be honest, it was harder to get out of Sven Goran Eriksson's squads than in them! That's not the case with Capello.
If that was ever in doubt, it isn't anymore. I have to admit I do feel sorry for Theo Walcott because if Capello has said he knew his 23 three weeks ago, why did he bother starting him against Japan and Mexico? After all, the lad was alright for England when he scored that hat-trick against Croatia!
I also feel a little sympathy for Adam Johnson and would've liked to have seen him go as well. By all accounts he has been performing out of his skin in training and he can come on and beat players and provide something different down the left if needs be. He reminds me of Ryan Giggs like that and sometimes at these tournaments, young players come of age, make an impact and make a name for themselves.
The only other real dilemma was leaving Darren Bent out, but I've got to say I have no problem with that. Striker is the hardest position to play because you are judged on goals and because of that there would've been so much pressure on Darren. He's never going to stand out through his tricks, flicks and skills or be easy on the eye, so goals are all he can offer.
And if you look at Wayne Rooney's record when he's played alongside Emile Heskey - I think it's something like 10 goals in 10 games - it shows you how valuable Emile can be. Admittedly he won't be under the same pressure to score, literally because we don't expect him to, but he will lead the line, hold the ball up, cause mayhem and create space for Rooney (Rooney to be top scorer 10/1). And believe me, he's not as bad a finisher as you'd think.
Of course, the stage is set for Rooney this summer. He is already an incredible footballer and the best thing you can say about him is those sort of players don't come along very often. The lad is a throwback; he loves football, he just loves playing and he loves winning. You get the feeling if he was driving home from training and saw some kids having a kickabout in the park, he'd be pull over and join in.
I am a little worried though that Wayne hasn;t scored a goal since Bayern Munich at the end of March, though. I know people say the injury will have done him good and he will be fresh, but I would much rather he came bouncing into this World Cup with five or six goals behind him, bang in form. The last thing we want is an uptight, anxious Wayne Rooney, because if he gets frustrated and goes around kicking people, there is only going to be one winner there. And it won't be England.
Having said that, it's impossible not to get excited if you are a player at the World Cup. I remember being named in the Euro 96 squad and it is the best feeling ever. Looking at it now, having retired a few years ago, I would give anything to relive that moment; knowing you are going to represent your country at a major tournament with the world watching. It's the stuff you dream of.
Of course it's intense and there's an incredible amount of pressure on those 23 players, but at the same time it's great fun. Like everyone back home, they will be aware of that, but all they will be thinking about is the USA game and what's next. The pressure is on in every single game and you cannot afford to look ahead.
In the past England's problem has been we have expected so much yet delivered too little. This time, I really don't see any reason why that can't be the other way round. Those players know they can put themselves on the map and for whoever wins, it will be a life-changing summer. And after 44 years of waiting, can you imagine what it will be like if those boys can do it? I can't think of a World Cup since then, when they had a better chance.
Daniel Druff (Bath City) (Bath City fan) says...
England have no chance of winning the World Cup not even a 0.000000001% chance. You wanna know why? Because they dont know how to play as a team in comparison to Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Holland, France, Italy & Serbia not to mention New Zealand! Enland play by themselves trying to look cool thinking they can dribble past a Brazilian! i dont think sooo mate, it's clearly not happening is it. On a serious note, England dont have enough "modern day" players to win. You need midfield maestros and for me none of the teams at the WC have one except from SPAIN who have two - xavi & Ineista! Spain will win this won the WC. And i can predict the next WC too. Argentina will win it in 2014 and finally England will win the WC in 2018 when we are hosts once again!!!
Posted 01:09 9th June 2010
Steve Wright (Chelsea) (Chelsea fan) says...
They've got as much chance of winning it as blackpool have of getting into the champions league next year......we couldnt win it years ago when lampard and gerrard etc were at their best. I also have my doubts about the manager decisions to call back carragher when he's even slower than he ever was and trying to recoup scholes at the last minute. The idea's are the same, the tactics are the same, the team are the same and we are gonna get the same...... out miles before the end........why you think my team chelsea wins the league with foreigners,because the english ones aren't any good,with the exception of the ones we already have.
Posted 15:36 8th June 2010
Dinny Odriscoll (Manchester United fan) says...
Another 4 years of 'hurt' on the way England!
Posted 14:20 8th June 2010
Chris Chris (Manchester United fan) says...
Going to be quietely optimistic about our chances this time. I usually get completely carried away and always end up demoralised when we get knocked out. I think the squad is as strong as we could have hoped for and injury's aside we should be getting to the last 4 at least. Like Jamie I would have liked to see Johnson there because I do think he could have given us natural balance on the left side. I think we have a great chance, we should navigate our group without any problems and the draw has been good to us if we progress as well. Spain and Brazil are the only teams I think could give us problems. Argentina have a great squad but their manager is as mad as a wasp, Portugal are a 1 man team, France aren't the force they used to be. They say never count out the Germans but I think this time you can. Holland could be the dark horses this time if they manage to keep the likes of Van Persie and Robben fit. I'm hoping for a England v Brazil final with Crouch to score the winner on 85 mins. Come on England !!
Posted 13:53 8th June 2010
Junior S (Liverpool fan) says...
The media have been so quite this year compared to previous tournaments, there isnt as much rubbish talk on England winning the world cup. Most likely because they and any England supporter know that the team isnt good enough to win it. The point Im making is that I have'nt wanted to launch my TV through the window because of disillusioned idiots!!! Spain to win. England will be lucky to scrape through the group stage after losing to the Yanks.
Posted 11:25 8th June 2010
Jon Bon jovi (Arsenal fan) says...
Musgrove you have got no idea! USA beat you Aussies comfortably & the rest of you England fans need to get behind your team & support the talent you have! Even though I'm American I like English football but the fans are so negative. I hope for a draw & for us both to progress through.
Posted 10:16 8th June 2010
Frank Cronin (Celtic fan) says...
why all the debate regarding engerland? you ain't gonna win it
Posted 10:09 8th June 2010
Steve Musgrove (Manchester United fan) says...
Cmon you Poms, we see this every 4 years from Old Blighty and it all comes crashing down at a penalty shootout. Which you will lose to us Aussies in the round of 16, C'MON THE SOCCEROOS.
Posted 07:36 8th June 2010
Joseph Hills (Liverpool fan) says...
maybe im a pathetic over optamistic idiot but do all these negative people even manage to enjoy football? every game of any team i support truly believe we are going to win if not i wouldnt watch it wheres the fun in that, it aint over till the fat ugly lady sings come un england and if not so be it i know the feeling ill just wait for the next one
Posted 23:11 7th June 2010
Stephen Mackie (Arsenal fan) says...
England will never win this world cup
Posted 22:11 7th June 2010
Roger G (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...
It's time to put the knives away, Stop the in-fighting and except the decisions that have been taken. We are in the WC in South Africa and need to get behind the team, Manager and all. We are what we are and we will be what we will be, But above all we are ENGLAND and not matter what will be said we will all be watching, shouting at our TV's and willing them on no matter what. 3 LIONS on the shirt.
Posted 20:18 7th June 2010
Grant Barker (Manchester United fan) says...
Of course we have a chance of winning the cup, we are 1 of 6 or 7 teams that have a realistic chance! I hate seeing our own people slate our team and write us off before a ball has even been kicked! We've got Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, and Ashley Cole who could get into any team, and other top notch players in the squad! Why dont people just stop being so negative and get behind our boys, i cant wait!
Posted 19:45 7th June 2010
Alex Thiery (Sheffield Wednesday fan) says...
I wish people would back the team! if our top players stay fit, we've got just as good a chance as anybody! of course spain have an awsome side! but are you going to tell me that portugal played better than us in 2006?? NO! any team can beat any one in the world cup, so lets get behind the boys and COME ON ENGLAND!
Posted 17:17 7th June 2010
Matt Ruddell (Coventry City fan) says...
Speaking as an Irishman, although I am a big England fan too, I can probably give a more objective view than most. Of course England have a great chance to win the world cup! This is a team tournement and they have a quality squad! Yes you get your stand out players but look at Greece in the Euro's, look at France 98, look at Italy in 06, look at any of the great teams to win the world cup and you will see that the sum is always greater than the parts. Zidane wouldn't have been the outstanding player he was in 1998 without Deschamps, Petit etc, doing the hard work to give him the space and opportunites he needed. Rooney needs to perform, so do Lampard and Gerrard but if all of the other pieces click, regardless of how big or small a part they play, then the pressure won't be as great on the "star" players. England have a great team, like any of the other 5 or 6 favourites, but they also have a great spirit and great support. The world cup could finally be coming home again!
Posted 16:21 7th June 2010
Steve Molyneux (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...
I will chew me own nads off if England win the world cup. They could not beat the 1966 team, half of em are there on reputation and not the season they have just had. I hope they take the wags so they have got someone to blame
Posted 15:56 7th June 2010
Phil Mccrackin (Arsenal fan) says...
Freyan Avari (below) seems to have no idea what he is rambling on about. Leave a comment! not an essay!... Jamie Redknapp is an ex international pro & expert pundit/analyst....& your challenging him somewhat..I'd like to know where your footballing brain has come from..Answers on a postcard please x
Posted 15:13 7th June 2010
Nick Reay (Crystal Palace fan) says...
I can't believe some of the negative comments on here. What's the point in even going if we don't think we're going to win it? We're a top team and on our day can beat anyone. We just need a bit of luck on our side this year, and we can do it. I suggest that everyone saying "England won't win it" wouldn't join in with the nationwide parties/celebrations if we did win it. Stop being so negative and get behind the lads. Come on England!
Posted 13:39 7th June 2010
Vik Deen (Manchester United fan) says...
i'm not sure england can win it. no doubt we have some good players but are we a really good team. we're definetly not as good as brazil and spain. and you have to ask youself are we as good as say.. the netherlands? england should make the last 8 and may make the last 4 but i cant see us winning it. our players are well drilled well organised and deal well with the physical side of the game. but in truth, rooney and joe cole not included, our players like flair. we seem technically inferrior to teams who shudn't be better than us. take the friendly with mexico they were extremly unlucky to lose and it was simply down to better finishing. they played the better football and had they had a rooney, torres, villa etc ect they wud have won. i hope we win but i dont think we can expect to....
Posted 11:26 7th June 2010
Cathal Daly (Liverpool fan) says...
England are in there but the only way they can win if they are solid in defence and rooney and crouchy are on top form.
Posted 10:57 7th June 2010
Mark Baumfield (Newcastle United fan) says...
I think we have got the players to win a World Cup but I dont think they are used particularly well and I think we missed an opportunity leaving out Adam Johnson! A 4-5-1 system would have worked so well... You could have Rooney uptop on his own with Gerrard behind (arguably there two strongest positions). Adam Johnson the best natural left footed player we've had available for a long time and to match it Lennon/J.Cole on the right. Then Barry holding with Lampard attacking from deep as he does week in week out for Chelsea. Why not pick a team to play to their strengths? Instead lose Gerrard out on the left, make Lampard to defensive and let Heskey get in Rooneys way?! But still lets be hopeful, hey?!
Posted 10:27 7th June 2010