The Olympic football has been a great show. Well done to Mexico for defeating Brazil in the final to claim the gold medal.
But the tournament all had a horribly familiar feeling to it. Great Britain, playing the role of England, started slowly before progressing through the group stages only to be eliminated from the tournament in a penalty shootout in the quarter finals.
Following England failing in the European Championships this summer, in exactly the same fashion, it gets you thinking. Will England ever win a major football trophy again?
Any English fan that can remember us winning the World Cup will in their fifties at least by now. There are generations of fans that have never seen England win a trophy, I am one of them.
Some of these more mature fans take pleasure in taunting us youngsters. How this current crop of England players aren’t a patch on the greats of ’66. Given England’s recent performances, it is very difficult to argue.
So will England ever win a major tournament again? Not with this team in my opinion
It goes from bad to worse
During Sven Goran Eriksson’s reign as England manager, we were told that we had a ‘golden generation’ of footballers. Beckham, Owen, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand and Cole. All were fantastic players and on paper it seemed we had a chance to end the years of defeat. But it wasn’t to be, penalty shoot-outs were the hurdle the team just couldn’t overcome.
Steve McClaren broke up that team by axing David Beckham but the less said about his reign the better. Then came Fabio Capello, a manager with an outstanding record of success throughout his career.
Unfortunately though, Capello’s reign was filled with bad decisions. He never seemed interested in bringing success to England, he just couldn’t turn down the ridiculous money the FA agreed to pay him.
The fact that he never gained a firm grasp of the English language in his four years in charge tells its own story about how seriously he took the job.
Now Roy Hodgson is the man trying to bring success to England. He is a fine manager but hasn’t got a great group of players to work with.
A look through the current squad doesn’t fill English fans with any hope. If Beckham and Ferdinand couldn’t deliver a trophy, then what chance do we have with Barry and Parker in the squad?
Look to the future
The current squad is inferior to most that we have had for the past twenty years so let’s look to the future. Who are the young players that could potentially lead us to glory over the next ten years?
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart has established himself as England’s number one goalkeeper at a young age, and is yet to make a disastrous error that has cost many recent keepers their international careers. So we trust him, what about the defence?
Right back: Kyle Walker starred for Tottenham last season and looks like he could have a long career for England. He was robbed of his place in the squad for Euro 2012 by injury, but at least that means he doesn’t carry the scars of defeat like the players that were involved do. Walker could do for England what Cafu did for Brazil for the next ten years.
Left back: Problem position. We have been spoilt in recent times, having one of the best left backs in the world in Ashley Cole. He’s now in his thirties so given we are looking to the future we will have to write him off. Who’s coming through? Kieran Gibbs looks the best option to me. He has the same pace and athleticism that Cole does, but will have to improve his defending fairly quickly.
Centre backs: On the face of it, England have a ready-made defensive pairing currently learning their trade at Old Trafford. Phil Jones is a perfect replacement for John Terry. Big, strong and aggressive, if he develops his reading of the game and decision making, Jones can be every bit as good as Terry.
Taking the place of the classy Rio Ferdinand will be the classy Chris Smalling. Like Ferdinand, Smalling is confident on the ball and capable of playmaking from the back. Plenty of improvement to be made, but Smalling is the man to replace Ferdinand.
Given the new trend in international and European football, it seems I have to put together a team that plays the fashionable 4-5-1 formation, so here are my midfielders.
Holding midfield: Easy pick, Jack Wilshire is already earmarked for the position. The Arsenal man has showed his class and provided he stays fit and keeps out of trouble of the pitch, Wilshire should be a fixture in the England team for the next decade.
Central midfield: This appears to be a problem position. Like the left back spot we have been spoilt. England has spent ten years trying to decide who the better player is between Gerrard and Lampard.
The fact is that we never really found out and now have to look to the future.
So where do we look? I’m sorry to say the best offers I have are Tom Cleverley and Jack Rodwell. I did say it was a problem position. No, that doesn’t look likely to be good enough but what are the alternatives? Jordan Henderson? Let’s move on.
Wide men: This is the one position that it looks like England are well stocked for future years. Adam Johnson has showed great potential for Man City and England, it’s just he hasn’t often been given the opportunity to shine. Theo Walcott is inconsistent but can be devastating on his day and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the most exciting young English player at the moment.
Forwards: Another problem position. Wayne Rooney is not as old as the rest of the ‘golden generation’ and will be England’s main player for the next five years. But who is coming through to challenge and replace him? Of the younger players in England, the three options we have for a lone front man are Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge. All have much improvement to make if they are to spearhead the England attack but I think both Carroll and Welbeck are capable of reaching the required level.
So there it is, the future of English football. Not massively inspiring and unlikely to frighten the likes of Spain and Germany but Hodgson can only work with what he has available.
Of course you don’t need a team of great players to win a major tournament. Greece proved that to us in 2004 when they lifted the European Championship with defensive organisation and a great team spirit.
Hodgson should look to give these players as much experience for England as he can so by the time the World Cup comes round in 2018, when these players reach their peak, they will be ready to deliver the goods.