England are now barrelling towards the 2022 FIFA World Cup in a seriously strong position.
- England approaches 2022 World Cup
- VARANE AND TRIPPIER Transfers “DONE NEXT WEEK”? (Football Terrace)
- England’s infamous 2022 target
- The Independent’s 2013 prediction
- ‘The England team that will win the 2022 World Cup’
- GK: Jack Butland
- RB: Chris Smalling
- CB: Nathaniel Chalobah
- CB: Phil Jones
- LB: Luke Shaw
- RM: Jordon Ibe
- CM: Ross Barkley
- CM: Jack Wilshere
- LM: Wilfried Zaha
- ST: Daniel Sturridge
- ST: Chuba Akpom
- Manager: Gary Neville
- How times change
England approaches 2022 World Cup
Having finished fourth at the last edition in Russia, bagged a bronze medal at the 2019 UEFA Nations League and placed as runners-up at Euro 2020, it’s fair to say that England are on a positive trajectory.
Now, obviously, it would be far too hasty to suggest that England will become world champions in Qatar but if that does prove to be the case, then it would actually vindicate the FA’s long-term plan.
That’s because the Football Association infamously declared in 2013 that they were strategising for England to rise from Euros quarter-finalists to world champions in the space of just nine years.
VARANE AND TRIPPIER Transfers “DONE NEXT WEEK”? (Football Terrace)
England’s infamous 2022 target
According to the Guardian, the new-appointed FA chairman at the time, Greg Clarke, boldly declared during a press conference: “I want to set the whole of English football two targets.
“The first is for the England team to at least reach the semi-finals of the Euro Championship in 2020 and the second is for us to win the World Cup in 2022.”
It was a bold strategy, which even included a countdown clock to the 2022 World Cup outside St. George’s Park, that has since been scrapped, but lest we forget that England did actually tick off the first target.
In fact, England actually exceeded expectations by way of reaching the Euro 2020 final, though it does seem a little more ambitious to convert that into World Cup glory within the next 16 months.
The Independent’s 2013 prediction
But hey, there’s no harm in being optimistic and the Independent were certainly feeling that way when Clarke first made his announcement in 2013 by taking upon a near-impossible prediction.
That’s because journalist Simon Rice bravely took on the challenge of predicting ‘The England team that will win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar’ and the result looks loveably crazy all these years on.
Besides, fans could probably have a good guess at how England will line up in Qatar one year ahead of time, but imagine trying to make the prediction nine whole years before the tournament.
As such, be sure to note that as we jokingly poke fun at the selections with the ever-convenient lens of hindsight that we’re only having a laugh and by no means claiming that we would have done any better.
‘The England team that will win the 2022 World Cup’
All that being said, let’s be sure to check out the England XI that will be ensuring football is coming home at the 2022 World Cup, according to the Independent’s prediction back in 2013, down below:
GK: Jack Butland
To be fair, Butland did go on to amass nine England caps, but a tenth feels increasingly unlikely on the back of just one appearance in the Premier League since going down with Stoke City in 2018.
RB: Chris Smalling
By no means a terrible shout considering that Smalling has reinvented himself at AS Roma, but even his Italian renaissance has hitherto been insufficient to earn a first England cap since 2017.
CB: Nathaniel Chalobah
Just six minutes of England action and having spent the last season in the Championship suggests that it’s extremely unlikely that Chalobah will bag a starting spot in Qatar from out of the blue.
CB: Phil Jones
Sadly, injuries and inconsistency have seen Jones’ Manchester United career fall apart at the seams and he appears to be in a state of limbo at Old Trafford having been out with a knock for 400 days.
LB: Luke Shaw
By far the best prediction in the entire starting XI. If England are indeed destined to win the 2022 World Cup then you can be darn certain that Shaw will be bombing along the left defensive flank.
RM: Jordon Ibe
One of only two players who haven’t earned a single England cap, Ibe simply never made the grade at Liverpool and flattered to deceive upon making a £15 million move to Bournemouth in 2016.
CM: Ross Barkley
Barkley has more than 30 England appearances to his name, but faces an uphill battle to reach the World Cup squad with a disappointing loan spell at Aston Villa casting his Chelsea future in doubt.
CM: Jack Wilshere
Let’s just say that the bold statement of ”there’s no doubt Jack Wilshere will be leading the team” makes for awkward reading when you consider the former Arsenal man is currently a free agent.
LM: Wilfried Zaha
Oosh. Even if Gareth Southgate wanted to play Zaha at the 2022 World Cup, he wouldn’t be able to because there’s a good chance that he’ll be representing the Ivory Coast at the tournament instead.
ST: Daniel Sturridge
In the midst of a stunning season for Liverpool, this seemed like a pretty safe bet, but Sturridge has only just emerged from the footballing wilderness to go on trial at Real Mallorca this summer.
ST: Chuba Akpom
One of the most inaccurate predictions on the entire list, Akpom is yet to receive an England call-up and that looks unlikely to change while he plies his trade with Middlesbrough in the Championship.
Manager: Gary Neville
Oosh, yeh, this has aged like milk because Neville has gone on to vow that he’ll never manage in football again after being sacked just 28 games into his own coaching gig with Valencia in 2016.
How times change
It really goes to show how times change because anybody reading the Independent’s prediction at the time of its release wouldn’t exactly have had a massive problem with any of these selections.
Besides, this was a time where Wilshere felt like the next big thing in English football, Jones was openly adored by Sir Alex Ferguson and Ibe looked set to burst on the scene with Liverpool.
But alas, the beautiful game is an incredibly tough place and we take no joy in having watched the likes of Chalobah and Akpom fall short of the World Cup-winning expectations tipped for them.
We’d love to see a few more of these players make an appearance in Qatar next year, but I think it’s fair to say that if football is coming home that it will be a very different starting XI that achieves it.