There are normally three things that are synonymous with England and tournaments: getting knocked out early, losing on penalties, and goalkeeping gaffes.
6. Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford started his Everton career poorly, but since Big Sam came in and had them shut up shop, his performances have improved. However, being a young goalkeeper in his second full season of top flight club football, there are some weak areas to his game.
He is an excellent shot stopper, but sometimes while making saves he has the tendency to knock the ball in the danger areas. He also has problems with his decision making as it pertains to coming for crosses. These are the areas he needs to address sufficiently so as not to be a national pariah on his return to his country.
5. Gary Cahill
Cahill is the most capped player in this squad, but was still lucky to make the final cut. The Chelsea captain is one of the most disliked players at his club, but managers come in and managers go out for club and country he still finds a way to be an ever-present. This will likely be his last tournament with England and would like to make a good impression in his swansong tournament.
However, misplaced clearances, letting a striker run off easily, and getting easily beaten one on one are his major weaknesses. At this level, any of these can see you on an early flight back to Heathrow and your hate level take off into the stratosphere.
4. John Stones
John Stones is arguably the best ball playing centre back in the country not named Harry Maguire. The hype surrounding him has been blinding over the last four years. The first half of last season he was immense for Manchester City, then came injuries that curtailed his season, which saw him becoming fourth choice centre back.
He’s not a young player anymore and is now expected to cut out his go-to mistakes which are overplaying the ball and misplacing passes in dangerous areas. The latter he seems to have a raw deal with given that his pass completion is close to excellent. Stones is expected to lead the inexperienced back line and have a good tournament, but he is one error away from the gallows a la David Beckham 1998.
3. Phil Jones
Once seen by Sir Alex Ferguson as a future Manchester United captain, Phil Jones on his day can be as good as any other centre back, but can be a bit clumsy and make wild tackles when he doesn’t have to (see FA Cup finals as reference).
He is also that player who gets silly injuries just when he is putting a good run of form together. All England will ask for this summer is for the level-headed version of a player who should now be in his prime at 26 to be present in Russia.
2. Dele Alli
Bamidele Alli is rated as one of the best young players in the world. He will, however, need to put his awful Euro 2016 behind him. This season he has shown he can kick it with the best of them figuratively, by virtue of his good Champions League performance. But like all good young players he has faults, his being petulance, diving, or a bad tackle. All of these make him a red card waiting to happen.
Getting a red card when your country needs you the most, especially England and their penchant for tearing down their own players, is a no-go, and one from which you may not be able to recover. But credit to Alli, he seems to have good strength of character, as he is regularly booed by his own countrymen in the league weekly, or even by another country to which he has ties, Nigeria.
1. Raheem Sterling
Whether it’s being called cheap for buying breakfast at a not-so-luxurious location or being criticised for spending too much on his Mom, or for just merely existing, Raheem Sterling is the main scapegoat/target for pundits in this squad. He may well be the most watched player by his country for the simple reason of nitpicking things to critique him about.
If he were to replicate his club form this season, he would put some of those criticisms to bed. Being one of the senior players in the team at just 23 and also one of the most important, big things are expected of Sterling this summer. Anything less and the country fails, he will definitely be public enemy number one.