Sir Bobby Charlton believes England have no chance of winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Roy Hodgson begins his quest to become the first England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966 to win the World Cup when he takes charge of his first qualifying match away to Moldova on Friday.
However, England great Charlton, a key member of the 1966 team that beat then-West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 final at Wembley — the only England side ever to win the World Cup — believes the current side lack the depth of talent to challenge the game’s best international teams.
“They haven’t got a lot of top-quality players to choose from and, because of that, you must feel it is going to be difficult to win things,” Charlton said. “You cannot see it happening in Brazil at the next World Cup, for instance.”
“Perhaps, if the right group of players come together and stay together for a while and gel into a team, with the right manager, then perhaps it might happen, but I have to be honest and say it’s a way off,” Charlton said. “Since the European Union and the influx of so many foreign players, there is a definite shortage of English players from which the England manager can select, it has become far more difficult.”
“I feel sorry for the England manager, whoever he is, as he simply doesn’t have enough players to choose from,” Charlton said.
United and England star Wayne Rooney is seen by some as vital to the national side’s short-term future, even though he has failed to have a major impact on all the international tournaments he has appeared in since 2004.
“It is up to the England manager to find a way of bringing the best out of him at international level, and how best to handle him,” Charlton said.
England’s record goalscorer, Charlton believes Rooney is capable of breaking his mark.
“He is handled very well at Manchester United, and I am sure it will evolve with England and if that is the case, I feel sure that Wayne is the player most capable of breaking my record of 49 goals, which has stood the test of time,” he said.
Rooney has 29 international goals and Charlton added: “If anyone is going to get the record, then it’s going to be Wayne Rooney. He’s good enough and he is still young enough.”
“No matter how much I might like being the top goalscorer, I will be pleased when someone breaks it, particularly if it’s Wayne,” he said.