'England won't win World Cup'

SINGAPORE- England will not win the World Cup next year. Neither will Liverpool land the English Premier League trophy.

So fans of both teams need to learn to downsize their growing expectations, according to former Reds and England international stalwart, John Barnes.

"The great thing about football is that it gives every fan hope. The moment teams go on a good run, we just can't help ourselves, and expect them to win everything," he said.

"But you've got to be realistic and wonder if England or Liverpool have the resources to last the distance, and the fact is that they don't."

In town to support the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS), the 50-year-old knows all about unreasonable hype.

After all, he scored one of the greatest individual goals of all time in 1984, when he glided past five defenders to score against mighty Brazil on their home turf, the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

That sensational goal, however, became the yardstick that he was judged by whenever he subsequently put on the England jersey.

Nowadays, few England players would be capable of similar goals, but fans continue to hail them as potential World Cup winners, especially after they reached Brazil 2014 unbeaten in the qualifiers. "Everyone wants to win the World Cup - Costa Rica, Ghana, South Korea, Australia," Barnes said.

"England might progress deep in the tournament if they get a good draw. But realistically, they don't even have enough players playing regularly in their clubs."

Indeed, he would rate Wayne Rooney as the only world-class England player in his prime at 28 years old. The one other top-level player, Steven Gerrard, has lost some of his dynamism at age 33, he said.

He added: "England have players like Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend who are comfortable with the ball and can run non-stop.

"But they can't play the one- or two-touch football that Germany or Spain use to great effect. They will need to use the ball better to have any chance."

Similarly, he also advises Liverpool fans not to get carried away by the Merseyside club's stellar start to the EPL season.

Currently in second place behind Arsenal, the Reds have so far surpassed their pre-season target of getting into the Champions League qualification spots, although there is still a long way to go before a European berth is assured.

The solid start has got fans dreaming of winning their first domestic league title since 1990, but Barnes - who won two league titles for Liverpool in 1988 and 1990 - cautioned: "Things will get difficult once there are a few injuries among the first-team players.

"Once that happens, I don't think they are deep enough to continue winning week in, week out."

Nevertheless, he is pleased to see progress in Brendan Rodgers' side, and singles out midfielder Jordan Henderson as one who has made significant strides as a player.

The former winger added: "You can see players buying into Rodgers' philosophy, and confidence is growing because they managed to win even when Luis Suarez was suspended at the start of the season.

"I'll be happy if we finish better than our seventh placing last season."


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