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Far-Fetched Friday: History Repeats Itself, England FA Wastes Another Great Generation
By: Jake Lofgren
The expectations of this upcoming England generation are extremely high. A lot of the most promising young players in Europe are England internationals. England has become a threat to win any Major International trophy both today and for the foreseeable future. England did recently make the semi-finals of the last World Cup and are one of the favorites to win next summer's EUROS.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday we look at England and whether Football will ever come home.
Let's focus on the younger generation that should be around for the national team for the next 10 years. The list of U21 England players that already are/can be top-level players include:
Jadon Sancho, Dortmund
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Phil Foden, Man City
Mason Mount, Chelsea
Declan Rice, West Ham
Mason Greenwood, Man United
Reece James, Chelsea
Bukayo Saka, Arsenal
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea
This is a crop that is already used to international success, most were vital members of England's record breaking summer that saw them win both the U17 and U20 World Cups in 2017.
And these are only nine examples of players under 21 who have already shown their quality. Combine that with others who will break through soon and the rest of the quality players that they have over the age of 21, England will be a force to be reckoned with for the next decade. Truth is, England has always had great players and have fielded some of the greatest players the game has ever seen. So how come they have only won the World Cup on one occasion 54 years ago? Or never won the EUROS? They are a national team that failed to win anything during their famed golden generation with legends of the game like:
Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Michael Owen, Sol Campbell, and Paul Scholes all on the same team.
The answers to why that golden generation failed could be the same reason why this next generation could fall short too.
The expectations placed on that golden generation was to win everything. Despite having some of the world's best players, that kind of constant pressure from the fans and media took its toll. England is close to repeating history and placing these same expectations on such a young squad of players. It is understandable to be excited for the future when you have a group of promising players like England does, but placing high expectations early in these players' careers could do more harm than good.
With all the talent they have had for years, one would think that the England job would almost be easy. Having a good pool of players is something that every manager would want, but when managing good players, one also has to be able to manage egos as well. National team selection is complicated; great players get left out of the starting eleven or even left out of the squad that can take those snubs personally, especially if they are a top player for their respective clubs.
All of the managers under the golden generation era failed at managing egos. None of them were capable of bringing those players together, and that is why every single one of them underachieved. It is something that England fans fear in Gareth Southgate. He was the manager under England's journey in the last World Cup and was able to convince the fans that "football was coming home" after making it to the semi-finals. But, that England team had a pretty easy path to that stage and got more than their fair share of luck on the way there. England will always look back in distraught that they let an underwhelming Croatia squad take their place in a World Cup final.
In more recent fixtures, Southgate has been questioned by the fans if his squad selection is correct or if England plays the correct style of play. If England wants to win a major trophy, wasting another big tournament under another one of the English Football Association's "yes men" like Gareth Southgate, is not the right choice. Bringing in a big manager that has managed some of the greatest players/egos at a club level could be the solution.
One of the biggest reasons that the golden generation claims that they failed was because of club rivalries. Other countries often have squads that contain players that play club football in many different countries. However, this is rarely the case for England's national team. The golden generation was full of players who all played for the biggest clubs in the Premier League and competed with each other for trophies year in and year out. So it was hard for these players to put their massive egos aside and put it all together in one team.
It could become a problem for the current England squad as well. Some English players now play abroad, like Jadon Sancho, but Sancho will inevitably move to the Premier League sooner rather than later. Having another generation of players that all play for clubs that compete with each other heavily for trophies could see them produce the same disappointment as the golden generation. It is just the price to pay for having the best league in the world.
The expectations around this England national team aren't high for no reason; they have one of the most talented pools of young players in the world. Although we have seen this before and the English Football Association looks likely to lead this current England national team to the same level of failure.
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