There are a two main reasons (excuses) that England rarely do well in the World Cup or Euro Championships. I actually agree with both of them.
Weather - The majority of the English season is spent in cool or cold temperatures with wind and rain. Obviously the training sessions are done in the same weather. In order to stay warm at these cool temperatures, players have to run around at 100 mph all the time. This is also a major factor in why the EPL is played at such a quick and frantic pace…but that is for another topic. So, as most World Cups and Euro Championships are played in the summer, and usually in hot temperatures, it is an unusual situation for most English players. They can’t run around at 100 mph like they do in league games and this takes something away from their game. NOTE – It will be winter in South Africa for the World Cup, with temps in the 40-60’s F, so this should be to England’s advantage.
Physical Wear and Tear – Most of the England players play in the EPL. Anyone who has watched and EPL game and then a Serie A game or La Liga game will no doubt see big difference. The EPL games are much faster and more physical. This takes it toll over the season. In fact, it was often said that Patrick Veira used to purposely get red carded around Christmas/New Year so that he could take the rest he felt he needed. The bottom line is, England players usually show up to the World Cup and Euro Championships worn out. Franz Beckenbaur used to say, “The English play like lions in the autumn and like lambs in the spring/summer”.
So England has the weather on their side for this World Cup, but nothing can be done about the physical wear and tear that their players have experienced over the past EPL season. However, a new factor has arisen that could be even more damaging than the weather and wear and tear, and that is team chemistry. I haven’t really followed the John Terry and Wayne Bridge situation, but any scandal involving wives and girlfriends, friendship and infidelity, can really wreck the chemistry of the team. And when other players end up taking sides, cliques form, rifts start and the whole thing becomes a mess. Potentially, I think this could be more damaging than practically anything else.
So how will England do this time? It wouldn’t surprise me if they struggled in group play, barely advanced and struggled to win another game. But it also wouldn’t surprise me if they did pretty well.