Ranking England’s preparation for major tournaments since 2000. It’s never been worse

Fabio Capello, Gareth Southgate, Peter Crouch preparing for major tournaments with England.
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England did not have a positive preparation for the World Cup. Actually, it was bloody awful. They have not won in five games, losing three in the process, including Friday’s loss to Italy. They have averaged 1.14 points per game in seven games so far this year – the lowest number in the run-up to a major tournament this century.

The Three Lions have played varying numbers of games throughout the year leading up to World and European Championships. So we’ve ranked how pre-season has gone since 2000 in terms of points per game. Last year was very different…

1) EURO 2020
P5 W5 D0 L0 PPG: 3

Build up: Covid became a thing and played the d*ck in 2020 and pushed the tournament back a year. It also meant that three of the five games leading up to the Euros were World Cup qualifiers, giving the Three Lions some competitive preparation.

25 March 2021 England 5-0 San Marino (h)
28 March 2021 – Albania 0-2 England (A)
March 31, 2021 – England 2-1 Poland (H)
2 June 2021 – England 1-0 Austria (H, The Riverside)
6 June 2021 – England 1-0 Romania (H, The Riverside)

How they fared: The Three Lions made their way into a tournament largely played on home soil. They expended absolutely no more energy than was necessary to get through the group stage before beating Germany, Ukraine and Denmark to reach a first major final since 1966, which we still can’t talk about.

2) 2006 World Cup
P3 W3 D0 L0 PPG: 3

Build up: England traveled to Germany full of optimism after scoring nine goals in two games at Old Trafford, albeit against teams ranked 46th and 76th in the world, while Wayne Rooney looked to recover from his foot injury. Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick against Jamaica and the robot was everywhere…

1 March 2006 – England 2-1 Uruguay (H, Anfield)
30 May 2006 England 3-1 Hungary (H, Old Trafford)
3 June 2006 England 6-0 Jamaica (H, Old Trafford)

How they fared: In his last few games as England manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson watched his side struggle in a simple group and work hard to beat Ecuador in the round of 16. Then they met Portugal again in the quarter-finals. Rooney was sent off and England lost on penalties. Plus ca change.

3) World Cup 2010
P3 W3 D0 L0 PPG: 3

Build up: England’s preparation also included a practice game five days before their opener against Platinum Stars, with Fabio Capello cheering on his players at half-time. “I had never seen him like this,” said John Terry. “That was the worst, the angriest thing I’ve ever seen.” Apparently, the lockdown didn’t have the desired effect.

3 Mar 2010 – England 3-1 Egypt (W)
24 May 2010 – England 3-1 Mexico (H)
30 May 2010 – Japan 1-2 England (A, Graz, Austria)

How they fared: Pity. Allowed off their South African grounds, Capello’s men stumbled through the group stage, winning against Slovenia after draws against USA and Algeria. Then they met Germany in the round of 16 and were beaten in Bloemfontein.

England’s player ratings as Southgate’s men docilely succumb to Nations League relegation

4) 2018 World Cup
P4 W3 D1 L0 PPG: 2.5

Build up: England’s preparations have been as calm as Southgate could have wished for his first major tournament. So much so that hardly any of it is remembered.

March 23, 2018 – Netherlands – England (A) 0-1
27 March 2018 – England 1-1 Italy (H)
2 June 2018 – England 2-1 Nigeria (h)
7 June 2018 England 2-0 Costa Rica (H, Elland Road)

How they fared: It was coming home, then Croatia spoiled everything in the semifinals. still hurts

5) EURO 2016
P5 W4 D0 L1 PPG: 2.4

Build up: England have intentionally put the show on the road for the first time since Wembley reopened to help players avoid ‘boredom’ and make the preparations feel more like an extension of the season than camp. Three out of three victories sent the team to France in good spirits. Rather better than the ones on their return…

March 26, 2016 – Germany – England 2: 3 (A)
29 March 2016 – England 1-2 Netherlands (H)
22 May 2016 – England 2-1 Turkey (H, Eastlands)
27 May 2016 England 2-1 Australia (H, Stadium of Light)
2 June 2016 – England 1-0 Portugal (H)

How they fared: England at least made it through the group stage, albeit with a couple of draws either side of the win against Wales. But they might have wished they hadn’t when they were humiliated by Iceland in the first knockout round. Roy disappeared shortly after. And Big Sam was gone too soon after that.

6) 2014 World Cup
P4 W2 D2 L0 PPG: 2

Build up: England’s preparations have been clearly South and Central American as they face Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage in Brazil. A few draws in Florida were pretty tasty as Raheem Sterling was sent off against Ecuador.

5 March 2014 England 1-0 Denmark (H)
30 May 2014 England 3-0 Peru (H)
4 June 2014 – Ecuador 2-2 England (A, Miami)
7 June 2014 – Honduras 0-0 England (A, Miami)

How they fared: England apparently learned nothing from their preparation. After losing to Italy in their opening game, they lost again to Uruguay, making their draw with Costa Rica irrelevant. “A tortuous, tormented and horrible campaign,” was how it was described in the Daily express after England returned home ahead of the knockout phase.

7) EUR 2000
P4 W2 D2 L0 PPG: 2

Build up: Kevin Keegan’s side qualified in November 1999 by beating Scotland in two games. Between the play-offs and the tournament in Holland and Belgium, they played four friendlies, winning two and drawing two.

23 February 2000 England 0-0 Argentina (H).
27 May 2000 – England 1-1 Brazil (H)
31 May 2000 England 2-0 Ukraine (H)
3 June 2000 – Malta 1-2 England (A)

How they fared: Poorly. They lost their opening game 3-2 to Portugal before beating Germany 1-0. Then they broke against Romania, losing again 3-2 and returning home without dropping out of the group.

8) EURO 2012
P3 W2 D0 L1 PPG: 2

Build up: The biggest anger during the preparation for Poland and Ukraine was centered on the coach. Capello resigned, leaving Stuart Pearce to take charge of the loss to the Netherlands before Hodgson had two warm-up friendlies to assess his new players.

29 February 2012 – England 2-3 Netherlands (H)
May 26, 2012 – Norway – England (A) 0-1
2 June 2012 – England 1-0 Belgium (H)

How they fared: Roy’s boys led the group after victories over Sweden and Ukraine, followed by an opener against France. They then faced Italy in the first knockout stage and Andrea Pirlo did so to Joe Hart as the Three Lions suffered a familiar fate.

9) EUR 2000
P4 W1 D2 L1 PPG: 1.25

Build up: A cruise against Iceland ended a four-game schedule, most of which was dominated by Eriksson, who wrestled with his mystery in midfield and how to get the best out of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes. He’s still working on that…

18 February 2004 Portugal 1-1 England (A)
31 March 2004 Sweden 1-0 England (A)
1 June 2004 – England 1-1 Japan (H, Eastlands)
5 June 2004 England 6-1 Iceland (h)

How they fared: An opening loss to France was followed by victories over Switzerland and Croatia, with Wayne Rooney the star of the group stage. Then he was beaten early on by Portugal in the knockout stages and England suffered the agony of being eliminated on penalties.

10) 2002 World Cup
P5 W1 D3 L1 PPG: 1.2
Build up:
Under Eriksson, England qualified for the finals in the dying moments of their final qualifier against Greece in October 2001. They drew with Sweden a month later before playing five pre-tournament friendlies in 2002. You won one…

13 Feb 2002 – Netherlands 1-1 England (A)
27 March 2002 – England 1-2 Italy (H, Elland Road)
17 April 2002 – England 4-0 Paraguay (H, Anfield)
21 May 2002 – South Korea 1-1 England (A)
26 May 2002 – England 2-2 Cameroon (A, Kobe)

How they fared: A win against Argentina and a couple of draws against Sweden and Nigeria were enough to drop out of the group. England impressed by beating Denmark 3-0 in the round of 16 before taking on Ronaldinho in the quarter-finals.

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