If we are to have any chance of at least performing respectably, we need to recognise the reality of what we can and can't do. For too long we have enviously dreamed of the technical ability of other nations, lamenting its absence in the players we have at our disposal. Of course we have produced players of intricate skill and creativity like Joe Cole, or vision and passing ability like Paul Scholes, but these are rare - we are never going to have a midfield of Iniesta, Xavi, Mata and Silva.
The reality is that the bread and butter of our team is built not on skill, technique and close control but on pace, power and passion. We have no chance if we try to emulate Spain because we need to recognise the fact that, as disappointing as it might be, we do not have the technical ability to match it. This doesn't necessarily mean we play ugly or just long-ball, but nor does it mean we attempt tiki-taka because it will not end well. The core of our team, players like Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Terry, Cashley, are not going to win us a match, let alone a tournament if we try slow build-up, possession football, waiting for a moment of genius to unlock a defence.
Five or six years ago, Spain came to this realisation, but in reverse. They were physically outmuscled again and again in major tournaments, and consistently failed to perform to their potential. They realised that their strength lay in their pass and move build-up play, not speed or strength. The following quote sums up Spain's change of strategy after their latest tournament failure, the '06 World Cup.
Spain haven't done too badly since then really. Looking at the examples of Arsenal and Man U might give further weight to the idea. Wenger has created a team of small, skilful players such as Rosicky, Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott. Lots of creativity and nice looking football, but very few trophies. United on the other hand play with a lot of speed and power, still attacking and aggressive but based more on swift counter-attack rather than endless possession, and have dominated English football for 20 years.
Regardless of whether it is Roy Hodgson, Stuart Pearce or Harry Redknapp who leads us in Poland/Ukraine and beyond, we need to play to our strengths and play an English style of football, not a poor attempt at Spanish football.
PS Ben, if you happen to read this blog, I'm sorry, I know this will offend your footballing philosophies.