England. Every major tournament, we watch in frustration at the men’s senior team’s inability to succeed. We fly through qualification – usually – against small teams from Eastern Europe who have only been countries for a few decades then when we’re met with quality opposition, we’re stuck. When the summer rolls by and England head off to the World Cup in Russia, will it be a repeat of previous competitions where the spectators throw away 90 minutes of their lives watching the dullest football possible? Possibly. But we’ll get to that in a few months time.
2017 has been a success for English football. The men’s senior team did qualify for the World Cup, and although it is generally expected, it’s still an achievement. The U20s team won their respective world cup with a 1-0 win over Venezuela then the U17s won their world cup in India with a stunning 5-2 win over Spain.
A new golden generation. That’s a lot of pressure to be piled on so early in advance, don’t you think, Gary? England are notorious for failing to live up to expectations. The senior team have only won one major trophy and that was fifty years ago!
There are many reasons why the senior team fails to perform; lack of cohesion is a key factor and the effect of strong cohesion can be seen within the German teams from 2010 and 2014, as well as the Spanish World Cup winning team in 2010. Many of these players had played together every week in their clubs; Barcelona and Real Madrid made the core of the Spanish side, Bayern Munich and Dortmund formed the bulk of the German squad. We can argue that in England there’s a few from Liverpool, few from Manchester United, a couple from Leicester, but it’s not enough. They’re footballers – surely they can play no matter who they’re on a team with.
Before they get to that point, these young players need to mature. What is important now is that these “golden” youth teams are provided with a chance to grow – to make mistakes – and develop. They need time to move up through the youth ranks and have the opportunity to represent their senior side. Too often, young players are not given the space to learn in a senior side for fear of losing league points – and in the Premier League, every point matters (unless you’re Manchester City who are running away with the league this season).
Many will argue that bringing in foreign players, removes the opportunity for home grown talent – and whilst I don’t completely agree with that statement, I believe club managers do need to let talented young players into the senior squad, even if it is at the risk of them making a mistake. If we do not make mistakes, we do not learn.
If nobody took a chance on the class of ’92, we wouldn’t have Beckham, the Nevilles, Butt, Scholes, and Giggs.