BOBBY Crutchley stands on the verge of his first World Cup as head coach of England’s men’s hockey team and he believes being a nuisance can lead them to success.
Crutchley, who studied business at what was then Sheffield Polytechnic, took over as head coach last February following Jason Lee’s side step to take charge of the England women’s team.
He faces a tough challenge at his first World Cup in the Netherlands (31 May – 15 June) after England were drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, Belgium, India, Malaysia and Australia – the latter world’s top-ranked team.
England also travel to The Hague with 11 of their 18-strong squad set to make their World Cup debut and, with a lot of inexperience in the side, Crutchley believes producing consistent performances will be his biggest task.
But, having beaten Australia to bronze in January’s World League Final, Crutchley wants England to frustrate their opposition as they bid to reach the latter stages in the Netherlands.
“I think we’re still an inexperienced team and our level of consistency means I wouldn’t say I was overly confident about putting together a string of results,” said Crutchley
“In terms of the preparation for this group, I think we are ahead of where I suspected we would be twelve months ago. I think other teams can maybe have an off day and still survive and get the results.
“In terms of the way we play, we’ve got to get through our group and actually deliver from game one. But I think if we get into a crunch game then we’ve got a chance because we can put them under pressure.
“We certainly have the ammunition to threaten them and, structurally and in terms of organisation, we can frustrate teams.”
The closest England have come to winning the World Cup was in 1986 when they were edged out 2-1 by Australia in the final while under Lee last time they lost in the bronze medal match.
This year’s hosts the Netherlands were their conquerors in 2010 but Crutchley believes, with the right blend of youth and experience, the class of 2014 could find themselves in with a chance.
“We would be considered one of the more inexperienced sides compared to the bigger teams and that probably means we’re a bit of an unknown going in,” he added.
“But that can give you a freshness going in and that combined with the older heads and the experience of someone like [captain] Barry [Middleton] it is a nice blend.
“What’s really nice is how they interact with each other and it creates a good ethos and gives them a chance to perform beyond expectations and cause upsets.
“I think it will be tight but if we make that top four then I don’t want to say that’s good enough. I would rather say ‘yeah, why not go on and win a medal; go and win your next two games’.
“But I wouldn’t say we would need that to have a successful tournament.”
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