From our friends at Sports Illustrated:
Why England Will Once Again Fail at Next Summer's World Cup and Beyond
As England prepare for the next qualifier at home to Slovenia, the Three Lions know one more win is all that is required to book their spot at next summer's World Cup in Russia.
But once again, it's all a little bit too familiar. England have once again been given a group which is laughably easy on paper, and a team of their calibre should breeze through it.
But struggles against the likes of Scotland, Slovenia, Slovakia and even Malta have brought back bad memories over the years of star studded England sides scraping results to qualify in a group they should be aiming to collect a 100% record from.
— Football Today (@FTdotnews) September 23, 2017
They were lucky to get even a draw from some of those games, and seems it like no matter how much the management changes the same things just keep on happening.
Should English media really be taking pride from cruising through a group where some of their opponents are bank managers for a living? Teams that are ranked 50th and lower in the world rankings? Absolutely not.
These are games that with England's quality should be a simple job. Go in, do the job, leave and get ready for the next one. The fact that players who are on well over £100k-a-week are scraping results against these sort of teams is quite staggering.
But it's not just about the qualifiers, it is of course about the players. It's good enough that the team have qualified, but you don't win a trophy based on reputation or wages, you win it based on hard work.
The way in which the players are represented by the press, whether it be getting drunk abroad or something happening in their personal lives, such as the war between John Terry and Wayne Bridge in 2010, should be irrelevant, but instead is made front page news, making the national team look more like a joke of a soap opera than a genuine contender.
However, on the pitch is ultimately where the issues lie. Why is it that these players have brilliant individual seasons with their clubs, but when they come together they look like strangers? Just that. For years it's looked as if England managers don't really know their best eleven, and on the field the players look more like individuals then a team.
Too many egos, no real discipline and too many styles on the pitch is ultimately the issue. There's no figure there to motivate the team to make them remember what it's really about. We all remember that incredible moment at Italia '90 when Gazza was yellow carded and shed a tear when he knew he would miss the final if England made it. It was a great moment, as it showed the true hunger, desire and passion to win.
Everyone in that team had the same goal, knew the style of football that was set, and played for the shirt, the fans and the manager.
The genuine heartbreak when England crashed out that night did all Three Lions proud as there was a genuine belief and effort from the team, something which in truth hasn't been seen since. Now, when the inevitable moment of failure comes, the expression on England players faces is one of: "We'll try again at the next one, I suppose."
It's essentially like a bad circle; easy qualifying group, medium tournament group, scrape through, lose in knockout round, repeat. How long can the FA put up with the repeated style of failure before something changes?
What the team needs is discipline, and to all be on the same level. Whether it be from the manager, the FA, someone needs to step in and make it clear what needs to happen.
At the moment, there is absolutely no chance that a team which is struggling in a group with Malta, Scotland, Slovenia and Slovakia can overcome ruthless sides such as Spain, France, Germany and Belgium, most of which are easing through their groups.
Unfortunately England fans, this soap opera of individuals will fare no better than in recent years as they will once again fall well short and come home like nothing's happened, again. Make that 52 years of hurt, and it's only getting worse each tournament.