Barney has signed off...

While waiting for the game, why not read Steven Pye’s take on Denmark’s trip to Wembley back in 1983. That one didn’t end so well for England...

How a defeat to Denmark cost England a place at Euro 84

Arrogance in sport is a tricky beast to control. Some of the great champions of the past had it in spades: Muhammad Ali, Eric Bristow, Brian Clough, Daley Thompson, to name a few. Two Portuguese men of the modern era, José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, display levels of cockiness that can be instantly stomach-churning. But all of these men can justifiably claim to have earned the right to strut around like peacocks. It is when arrogance is mixed with ignorance that problems can occur, one such example being England‘s failed attempt to qualify for Euro 1984. Ignorance is supposedly bliss, but for Bobby Robson and English fans, a joyous time this was not.

When the draw was made for the Euro 1984 qualifying groups, everyone in England seemed to be mightily chuffed at the teams we would be facing in Group Three: Hungary, Greece, Denmark and Luxembourg. “England on easy street,” said the Express, with Steve Curry adding: “England could not have hand-picked more favourable opposition than the draw for the 1984 European Championships.” Ron Greenwood, the outgoing England manager, waded in with: “You can’t disguise the fact that this is a very good group for us.” No pressure then for the new manager Bobby Robson, as surely this would be a cakewalk. Continue reading

Guardian staff

Sadly, my time is up now. Thanks for all your questions. No doubt all your nagging doubts about England and indeed life in general have now been answered. Enjoy the game tonight. Let's do this again soon. Barney

Updated

Mikey Perks asks:

Jordan Henderson has been in great form for Liverpool and I think he is a great foil to Gerrard. He does his work for him and frees Gerrard up to play those balls we know he is capable of (for the record, I’m not a liverpool fan). We have seen this season Manchester City. By having a player like Fernandino in the team to complement and free up Yaya Touré and it would be a similar situation with Henderson who would do the work to free up Gerrard and to some extent Rooney... anyway my questions:

1) Do you think Henderson deserves to start tonight?
2) Do you think Henderson will start tonight?

Guardian staff

1. Probably.
2. Probably.
I still don't think it's the right way to go though. Keeping the ball is the key, not work rate. Henderson is an excellent Premier League player with many qualities. But he's going to look like a more energetic Scott Parker in Manaus.

Cleckers asks:

Any clues from the Danish camp how seriously they’ll take the game? Assuming Hodgson will be putting a strong team out and not do much experimenting.
Guardian staff

I don't have any current access inside the Danish camp, although oddly enough i can see Wembley from where I'm typing this. I live on a very steep hill and you can see the arch very clearly even though it's about 10 miles away. From here, though, no real clues about the Danish formation tonight. On an unrelated note I can also see the Oval, the Olympic Stadium and the Den from my front garden. Is this a record?

samaras9 asks:

How many do you think Denmark will win by?

Guardian staff

England will win a messy, stop-start game 2-1 with two goals in the second half, the second from a set peice. Everyone will leave at the end feeling slightly hollow inside.

RedHerrings asks:

It’s pretty well recognised that a player’s club affects their international chances. In two obvious current examples, if Tom Huddlestone had delivered this season’s performances for a top four team he’d clearly be in the England squad; if Tom Cleverley had delivered his for, say, Palace, he wouldn’t be anywhere near it. Question: to what extent, if any, do you think this is a bad thing?

Guardian staff

I think you're right and I think it;'s a bad thing. On the other hand, players don;t just end up at a top club*. It's not luck, or a mistake, or some mass oversight all the way down the line. It's a fair guide, often, of your ability to handle pressure, be aournd other good players, not freak out in those small vital moments and all the rest of it. Not always. But usually. *although clearly some do

Friggity asks:

Barney, spare a few words for the quiet dignity of Ashley Cole. Less than he would have reacted visibly and negatively to Hodgson’s almost embarrassing comments on his place in the national team and the unnecessary demotion at Chelsea.

Guardian staff

Yes i guess it's one of those moments where refusing ever to speak to the press lends you a quiet dignity. In A Cole's favour a lot of tosh has been written about him and a lot of quite pointed and malicious stuff too. I've always quite liked him. I even sort of get the "must be joking Jonathan" thing. These things are all relative. He was concerned about not being valued enough, not being at a club with fierce enough ambition, not looking forward into the future and seeing himself a torphy-winning best in the world Champions League final left back for the next decade. If that's his look out he might just have been right after all.

hornchurch10 asks:

Same old same old isn’t it Barney? Lampard, Gerrard etc. Be fair to Hodgson he has brought the likes of Shaw in but no Mark Noble. He knows what Lampard and Gerrard can do and its a friendly...

Guardian staff

To be fair rather than same-old Lampard and Gerrard they are both slightly different now. For a start they're both slightly slower and older.

pyramidboy asks:

I don’t really like football. Should I bother with the World Cup?

Guardian staff

No. People like you have been ruining football since the start of the Premier League. I applaud your honesty. Now leave the World Cup to people who do like it.

NewTech_News asks:

Barney, do you think we could use all three of Baines, Cole and Shaw? Using 4-3-3, we could have Baines in the midfield with Gerrard and Henderson, plenty of technique, energy and goalscoring ability there (plus there is currently no third outstanding midfielder to play in there). Then use either Shaw or Cole at left-back depending on opposition?

Guardian staff

No. Playing in midfield is a specialist position. This kind of thing never works unfortunately.

PassionSux asks:

What’s your favourite Fleet Street excuse whenever England are knocked out of a big international tournament?

a) a foreign referee ruined everything
b) long, hard Premier League season has taken its toll of the players
c) players do not care about international football or England anymore but money
d) Man-management, Hodgson did not put arm around shoulders enough.
e) England have great players but they do not seem to gel for some reason
f) Climate - no rainy nights in country X
g) None of the above but something else

I like them all. The more irrational, the better.

Guardian staff

We're past all that aren't we? Now we simply collapse in a massive heap and say everyhting's gone wrong and we're the worst EVER and we're all going to wail about it. Perhaps there might be a better third way. We're not that good. But we're not that bad.

MysteriousSgtWilko asks:

Barney, have you pre-ordered Sol Campbell’s autobiography?

Guardian staff

I like Sol Campbell. But i suspect his book will be very boring

ID2902750 asks:

I was watching the Do I Not Like That documentary on YouTube the other day and it got me thinking. Is the current England squad worse than Graham Taylor’s? I think it is. There were some absolute flannels in Grahams team, but Jordan Henderson wouldn’t have got near it. I feel a bit sorry for Roy... and a little bit sorry for Graham.

Guardian staff

I always thought the odd thing about the Taylor era was he did have some really excellent players available - Gazza, Shearer, Waddle, Beardsley, Pearce, Sheringham, Ince, Wright, Ferdinand, Merson (yes) Adams, Pallister, Walker, Platt but either didn't pick them, lost them to injury, or decided to do something utterly bizarre with his formation and tactics. The sad thing is, England had an infinitely better and larger crop of players than now even then. They always have. Even the bleak years have been better than what they've got now. The wheel of Fortuna has entered a decisive downward turn

JohnDTraynor asks:

There are four players in the squad from Southampton who are stuck in mid-table mediocrity; surely that is a clear indicator of the lack of quality of English players?

Guardian staff

There are already plenty of indicators of that. Doesn't seem to be much point in picking on some good skilful players at Southampton who have earned a call-up. Plenty of mediocrity to be found among the Champions League clubs too

Updated

Craggyisland asks:

Do you think that Uncle Roy or ‘the boys’ have the discipline or tactical nous to play anything other than kick and rush (and pray) in the worst conditions for that type of football? If so, should he be looking at any alternative personnel?

Guardian staff

Yes of course - they can play like they did in Ukraine, defending like a surrounded infantry unit for two weeks until they all very slowly collapse from exhaustion. Roy has talked in the past about wanting to exploit the qualities that his players do have: speed, running ability, willingness, physcial strength and all the rest. Unfortunately at no stage did that list include "the ability to keep the ball" which is what modern international football's all about. On the other hand England don't help themselves. I would like to see them picking whatever players they do have who are comfortable on the ball, who play in the right style for international football, whether they're the "best" in england or play at the biggest club or not. It is England's style as much as their abilities that is wrong and it's hard to see that changing right now.

ID5343108 asks:

Who do you reckon will be the unexpected pick for England’s World Cup squad – the player no one saw coming?

Guardian staff

Nobody. There are no dark horses now. We know who everyone is. We know exactly what we've got. There can be no surprises. This is how England's world has shrunk. Failing that, Matt Tubbs.

BigBananaFeet asks:

When England are eliminated, who will be the scapegoat? We’ve had a couple of referees who did their job well, Ronaldo who winked irrelevantly, Beckham who flicked unwisely, a turnip and a goalkeeper. It’s the golden rule, isn’t it? There always has to be a scapegoat, and the further from reality the complaints the better.

Guardian staff

I ghink we've gone from scapegoat to worshipping with a sense of tearful adolescent yearning whoever it is who finally knocks us out. Hence the Pirlo idolatry last time, the obsession with German football since 2010. Mark my words five months from now we'll all be raving about the peerless state of the art Costa Rican youth system

ProfessorAwesome asks:

How soon should Roy Hodgson be fired, and how many centuries behind the rest of Europe has his tenure left us?

Guardian staff

No centuries whatsoever. The basic problems with English football - lack of resources, coaches, structure, coherent approach to how to play etc etc etc eight up to selling off of school playing fields - might have been solved and set on the right course after the second world war. They're not really Roy's fault. Similarly, the business model of the Premier League is hardly Roy's fault. Occasionally playing long ball tactics - that's Roy's fault, but it got a result in the Ukraine.

thelaststark asks:

Would you take Barry with you to Brazil? And if not, why not? And please show your work. Lots of love

Guardian staff

No I wouldn't. There's been a little bit of a fashionable swing in his favour because he hasn;t been picked for a while and has been playing one game a week in a good team and able to show what a good player he is still. But he was poor in South Africa in 2010, looked slow and immobile and picking him now just seems a little pointless. Can't we just allow him to be a very talented player going through a good late career spell without insisting he has to play at a World Cup?

Theloneraver asks:

The Great Left-back Debate rumbles on. Cole or Shaw as back up to Baines?

Guardian staff

Personally i'd pick Shaw because reserve left back is one place where you can pick a good young player without it being too much of a gamble. Cole isn't playing much. It seems pretty obvious. On the other hand we tend to put good players on a celebrity pedestal in this country - for some reason it seems massive call to drop him: why? We're not talking about a three-time world cup winner... - so perhaps Cole will get the nod after all. Cole has been a brilliant left-sided defender, but has, you've got to admit, been a little left behind by the emphasis on attacking from the full-back positions. He doesn't score or make goals. He defends beautifully. It's a great asset to have. But it doesn't exactly sound like something that should make you undroppable.

OldSpice asks:

On a scale of one to Carlton Palmer, just how inadequate is Tom Cleverley for international football?

Guardian staff

It is worth remembering he isn't in the best form. Plus he is one of those players who when they're bad just end up looking totally marginalised. In a good, winning team you might think, hmmmm, passes the ball quickly, neat, full of energy - it's a kind of Basingstoke Busquets. In a poor team you wonder what he actually does well. Having said that he is a decent, honest player and certainly doesn't deserve to be abused if he's not good enough right now.

Shrina2 asks:

How well do you think England will do in Brazil. I have them out in the group stages, what’s your take?

Guardian staff

I think they will get a draw and a win in the group stages and sneak through in second place. Then they will either lose narrowly in the next round or win narrowly and lose narrowly in the round after that. How well they are seen to have done afterwards will depend on small details, elements of luck, the exact staging of how exactly they finally lose. Lose well and there will be some optimism ahead of an easy qualifying group for the Euros.

ID6219391 asks:

I hope this is a friendly webchat that doesn’t descend into, you know, saying England are shite.

Guardian staff

That would be so 2011. We're past that now. The new orthodoxy is: England are likeable, hard-working and maybe even under-rated.

And we're off...

OzMogwai asks:

Which England player or players, if any, do you think will surprise people and have a really good World Cup?

Guardian staff

In my best case scenario Wayne Rooney arrives at the WC fit and not pre-exhausted by late stage champions league competition/title run-ins. Sturridge settled in the warm-up games and scores a few goals. And suddenly England have a team that is well-organised in midfiedl and at the back, with a couple of high quality forwards, thereby sneaking their way through the rounds - bit like Chile when they had Salas and Zamorano - by scoring on the break and defending as a team. Before losing 7-1 to Germany in the semis. Apart from that there are a few good young players around. Oxlade always seems to have the right attitude for big games.

Barney will be here from 1pm GMT

Good afternoon. Barney will be here from 1pm, but in the meantime here are some of our previews:

• Steven Gerrard backs Dr Steve Peters to give England edge

Steven Gerrard believes input from Dr Steve Peters will give England‘s players an edge at the World Cup finals after Roy Hodgson confirmed the renowned sports psychiatrist is to join his backroom staff for the summer’s tournament in Brazil. Peters, who is credited as a major influence in the success enjoyed by Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton with British Cycling, has an impressive portfolio of clients, including Team Sky, UK Athletics and the five-times world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

• Ten things to look out for in this week’s friendlies

Antoine Griezmann could benefit from France’s need to fine tune, Germany’s production line continues to churn out the talent while Colombia must prove it is more than Radamel Falcao

• England cannot rely on mind games master to fix penalty curse

Steven Gerrard made the most valid point. “You need to understand Steve Peters can’t help you do a Cruyff turn better,” the England captain said. “He won’t help you hit a 40-yard pass any more accurately. Steve Peters is not going to help the players run an extra 100 or 200 metres or go any faster.”

• What if Hodgson picked his team on Premier League form?

Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad selection didn’t really throw up any surprises but there were a number of players that could count themselves unlucky not to have received the call. Familiar faces such as James Milner, Jermain Defoe and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in the squad despite starting just seven, three and three Premier League games, with the latter’s absence due to injury rather than falling out of favour.

Drop your questions in the comments sections below. Enjoy the webchat.