I think it is fair to say that this period from 2008 to 2014 has been disappointing for England National Football team. They failed to qualify for the Euros in 2008, they were well beaten by Germany in 2010. The Euros in 2012 wasn’t that bad for England, but they run out of luck, after being beaten by Italy in a penalty shootout session. But the World Cup in Brazil has been a calamity, with the team failing to win a single game.
Even though they haven’t won a trophy since 1966, they did have a very good generation in the 90s and the 00s.
In the 90s, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer proved to be very prolific goal scorers for England, and they had terrific players in Paul Gascoigne, Tony Adams and Paul Ince for example.
A few years later, a number of players start to form a golden generation like David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard. During this generation, there were also other great players, like Ashley Cole and Michael Owen. But again, they failed to live up the expectations that were made, only reaching the quarter-finals of 2002 and 2006 world cups, as well as the 2004 European Championship.
But when those players have gone past their best, England couldn’t find their world-class replacement from 2008 to now. They have good players who perform well in the Premier League, but they’re nowhere near “world-class”, apart maybe from Wayne Rooney and Joe Hart.
I do not know how people always expect something special from England, when in 2010 they came up with players like Matthew Upson, Shaun Wright Phillips or Emile Heskey. They’re good but not good enough I fear and it was the same in 2012 and 2014, you can’t expect to beat Germany, Italy or Brazil when you’re playing with James Milner, Phil Jagielka or Ashley Young. This generation of players are just not good enough. Leighton Baines had the potential to be world-class, but thanks to his loyalty to Everton, he never had the chance to prove his quality in the Champions League, and now when Everton are becoming a stronger team under Roberto Martinez, “Bainsey” is in his 30s.
Roy Hodgson picked a fresh, young squad for Brazil, yet he decided no to play the most promising ones. But this young squad is key to England’s future:
- Ross Barkley, 20 (Everton)
The 20-year old attacking midfielder is, I think, the symbol of this new England generation. As Roberto Martinez said, Barkley is like a mixture of Michael Ballack and Paul Gascoigne. What impresses me about him, that he is strong, quick, technically gifted and two-footed (his goal against Norwich proves that). He loves to take on opponents, and that is unusual for a player who plays in the number 10 position. He went to the World Cup, tipped have a strong one, but unfortunately, Roy Hodgson didn’t really give him the chance to shine.
He just signed a new deal with his boyhood club Everton, and that pleases me (mainly because I’m a keen Everton supporter). But it shows that he’s got his foot on the ground, and feels he can still learn a lot at the club. Big clubs wanted to sign him, but turned them down in order to stay with the Toffees. I’m not saying that he’s going to stay at Everton forever, but that shows that he knows that he’s not a superstar yet, but will be one in the years to come.
2. Luke Shaw, 19 (Manchester United)
He’s been key to Southampton’s performance in the last 2 seasons, and any player who plays week in week out for a top-10 premier League side is undoubtedly a quality player. Especially if that player has been doing that for 2 years at such a young age. He’s got everything a modern wing-back should have: very quick, loves to get forward, and got a great left foot.
Unlike Ross Barkley, he’s decided to move to a much bigger club ( Man United) early on his career, and will be carrying the £30 M price tag, literally football’s most expensive teenager. I believe he’s got the quality to become the next Ashley Cole, and England’s first-choice left back as early as this season. But I hope that he won’t feel the pressure of carrying that price tag, otherwise he could be in for a tough beginning at Manchester United.
3. Raheem Sterling, 19 (Liverpool)
He made his premier league debut a few years ago, and even back then, we all saw that this kid’s special. A really tricky winger who loves to take on opponents, he is key to England’s future. He impressed during England’s preparation games, and had the chance to prove himself during the world cup.
Liverpool’s second position last season means he will have the opportunity to play in the champions league, which I think is something young English talents haven’t had the chance to do in the last few years. He is set to become one of the greats if he fulfills his potential.
4. Jack Wilshere, 22 (Arsenal)
He’s been around for quite a while, hasn’t he? Yet he hasn’t really yet shown all of his potential, a potential many qualify as “enormous”. Well, he certainly has an enormous potential. His off-the-pitch bad habits may be the cause of his slow development or has it anything to do with all the money he’s already earning at such a young age? He’s probably the only one who could tell and prove us all wrong in the next few years.
The Arsenal attacking midfielder is all in all a terrific young player, whose best position is probably the number 10 role. But he’s rarely been given that role at Arsenal with players like Mesut Ozil or Santi Cazorla, and he’s also had a lot of injuries earlier in his career which slowed his progress down. But one for the very near future for sure.
5. Phil Jones, 22 (Manchester United)
The least we can say about the former Blackburn man is versatile. Comfortable at centre-back, right back and holding midfield, Jones has featured regularly in the Premier League since joining Manchester United. He will be aiming to establish himself under Louis van Gaal and in the England setup as well. His versatility can prove to be very precious for England.
He’s naturally a centre-back, but at the moment he’s behind Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka in the pecking order. But with Jags in his 30s, and since his performance has not been impressive at the World Cup, we could well see Phil Jones in an England shirt more regularly in the near future.
6. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 21 (Arsenal)
He could have had a fabulous World Cup in Brazil, sadly for him (and for England fans), he picked up an injury in a friendly game, that rules him out of the tournament (he could have played a part had England gone further). He is like Sterling really, a real old-fashioned winger with a lot of skills, which make him a real threat on a one-on-one situation.
He is really a promising player who can become one of the greats. He hasn’t featured week in week out for Arsenal, which is not ideal for his development. Nevertheless, we can all see what Alex is about and will be a massive player for England.
Those six players have traveled to Brazil with England, but there are those who missed out, but maybe should be given a chance in the near future.
1. John Stones, 20 (Everton)
The young man from Barnsley has impressed since making his debut for Everton earlier this year. What I like about him how comfortable and composed he is for a young centre-half, and he loves to dribble and carry the ball forward from his defensive position (Ball-playing defender for those who play Football Manager :D).
The 20 year-old is also a capable right-back, although he sometimes misjudges the situation: when Everton played Liverpool last season at Anfield, he was constantly caught out of position, which makes the Toffees very vulnerable to counter attacks. I think he should play more regularly at CB, and he will stay in the England setup for quite a while.
2. James Ward-Prowse, 19 (Southampton)
He’s one of my favorite players. He’s a tireless, technically gifted player, who would chase everything down. I haven’t seen any better free-kicks and corners taker than him quite frankly for quite a long while. It’s a shame he hasn’t played every week for Southampton last season, I think he would have played well, like most of his former team-mates who are no longer at Southampton. This season will be his break-through season, and I hope that he will make his senior debut for England as well.
3. Calum Chambers, 19 (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s new £16M signing is like Phil Jones: He’s versatile. Although naturally a right full-back, he’s tall and strong enough to play at centre-half, and he’s more than capable at right midfield and defensive midfield. He has put in some good performances at right-back for Southampton last season, and became their no.1 right back ahead of a certain Nathaniel Clyne. He’s had a good start to his Arsenal career, despite being played in a more central position. He’s certainly one to look for the future, and he’s a good leader (captaining England U19s).
4. Connor Wickham, 21 (Sunderland)
We haven’t seen much from him in the Premier League. He was bought by Sunderland from Ipswich Town in 2011, but was immediately loaned to lower division clubs (Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United) in order to get more playing time. Last season, though, we saw a bit of what Connor Wickham is about. A strong, hard worker, young striker, who is both good with his head and his feet, he was key to Sunderland’s “miracle” (as quoted by Gus Poyet).
He’s very experienced in the U21 England setup, I’m hoping to see more of him this season, and he’s got the quality to score goals, and maybe, he will his first senior call-up, sooner rather than later.
5. Will Hughes, 19 (Derby County)
A lot of Premier League sides wanted to sign this young midfielder, but instead of that he decided to sign a new four-year deal at Derby County, and I think he made the right choice. To be frank, I haven’t seen much of him, but from what I can see, he always asks for the ball, great passing and dribbling ability. On top of that, he is tireless and would literally chase everything, and win the possession back for his team, which makes a him a very promising box-to-box midfielder. Future Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard to be?
I won’t go to all of the young English talents, but the truth is England’s future is bright, and if they can fulfill the potential they all have, England can compete at the very top level once again. I will give you, as a conclusion, a possible SQUAD for England in the years to come
GK: Joe Hart (Man City); Jack Butland (Stoke); Jason Steele (Middlesborough)
RB: Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Sam Byram (Leeds), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)
CB: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), John Stones (Everton), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Steven Caulker (QPR), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jamaal Lascelles( Nottm Forest), Phil Jones (Man Utd)
LB: Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Luke Garbutt (Everton)
CM: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Will Hughes (Derby County), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jack Rodwell (Sunderland), Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Wide players: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Nathan Redmond (Norwich), Patrick Roberts (Fulham), Thomas Ince (Hull)
Strikers: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Man Utd), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Cauley Woodrow (Fulham)