FIFA World Cup 2010: Post-World Cup, Where Do England Turn Now?
England's exit from the World Cup is itself not a huge shock. That it happened in such a manner is. Those who had been watching the German team play knew that they had a good team dynamic and a few outstanding individuals.
Yesterday they had 11 outstanding individuals. The German team swept England aside and everyone played a key role.
England have the players to match any team star for star, but the English team dynamic is, at best, very poor.
Putting aside the failures of the current team, I'll look to the future.
Around the year 2000, the German team, suffering from a real deficit of success, changed tact. Their resources were turned to promoting youth, something the league took to heart, and Germany have never looked back.
The amount of German 19-to-23-year-olds in the league outweigh the English equivalent by far, and this is transferred to a highly potent pool of German players.
The English youth did in fact reach the u-21 final recently which might give us a glimmer of hope. They were roundly thrashed by the German u-21 team 4-0 in the final. The German players were all important members of their league teams, the English were largely bench-warmers.
England need to stop, take stock, and change the following things.
Lampard and Gerrard : They don't work. They just do not seem to click, and every England fan has been saying so for an age. Only Capello saw the duo working, and we can see where that has taken us. Both are reaching the latter end of their international career. From now on only one of them can play at once, alongside a more defensive midfielder.
Joe Hart : A member of the u-21 team, though due to suspension he did not play in the final, Joe Hart has had a fantastic season and should be installed as the England goalkeeper immediately. Given time, he has the ability and leadership qualities to make the position his own for years to come.
Centre Backs : The English central defenders are aging, and the nimble German attack pulled them to pieces. I would be of the opinion that the defence needs serious rejuvenation.
A minor problem is that who can replace them? Who is international quality? Players like Gary Cahill, Roger Johnson, and Scott Dann—and to a lesser extent, Joleon Lescott—are not given a look in to the England set-up. They should be involved to inject some youth into the position.
The best two under-25 defenders should be given the position to take. I can guarantee they will play out of their skins for it and a steady defence instead of a revolving door can only be good.
Give youth a chance : Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, and originally Michael Dawson. Four youthful players who failed to break into England's final squad. In friendlies, Walcott did not impress, but I feel fairly certain that were Adam Johnson German he would have started against England.
It is the same in the Premier League. Lower level teams cannot take a risk on youth, and the Arsenal team do not foster English youth. Manchester United play a few younger players, but Gibson is Irish and the rest of the younger players are Senagalise and French and from the corners of the world which do not tend to include England.
Where are the English youngsters? Jack Rodwell deputised well for Mikel Arteta but lost his place with the return of the Spanish midfielder. Adam Johnson plays occasionally, as does Sean Wright-Phillips, but Bellamy has a spot nailed down, and if Man City don't buy any wingers this summer I'll be genuinely surprised.
The English u-17 team have recently won the u-17 European Championships, by the next World Cup they will be around 21 or 22. How many of them will go to Brazil with the England squad, and how many will be blocked by older and lesser players with a stranglehold on their England positions?
The Midfield: England do not have a Schweinsteiger, a Xavi, a Melo. A midfield metronome who holds the ball and can act as a creative influence as well as a defensive bulwark. The midfield as a whole must stop rushing forwards trying to force an opening, the top teams can counter this.
A patient approach must be taken on. Backward, forward, left, and right. The top teams hold the ball and hold it well, waiting for the defence to be teased out of position before striking. Perhaps Barry will be this figure, but on yesterday's showing I cannot see it.
The Manager: Following a successful qualifying campaign, hopes were high for the England charge into South Africa. Capello failed to deliver. To make myself clear, the blame under no circumstances falls entirely at his door, but he is equally not blameless.
Fans cannot understand why Emile Heskey continues to hold a position over Peter Crouch, or why Adam Johnson, apparently the only natural left-footed winger in England, did not make it to South Africa. Why was Gerrard being played out of position where his uses are largely nullified?
Capello stuck with the same formation despite it never impressing, and used seemingly broken English when crystal clear communication is needed.
Capello made as many gaffs as the players have, and the accumulation of these mistakes might well see his head roll.
I am loathe to jump on a jingoistic manager hunt, but surely an Englishman should be the next England manager. Someone with Premier League experience where he knows the players under him. Not an Englishman because a foreigner couldn't do it, or isn't worth it.
But no Italian team, or German team, or French team or Dutch team would contemplate a foreign manager. The national team represents the nation from the boot-boys to the manager. I have always thought that the manager should have to be of the nation he is managing, in the same way the players have to be.
A last point is that for an English manager the England job is the Holy Grail of football. It is the highest managerial position he can attain, and this enthusiasm can only help him in his job.
Germany suffered a few tournament set-backs, and they analysed the situation, found the problems, and now look to have a very, very bright future. Credit to them. Now England need to drop off of their high-horse which they inevitably climb atop whenever a major tournament comes about. England need to find the root of the problem, and build a long-term future.
At the moment there is no player who has the experience to replace the likes of Gerrard and Lampard. England need to create an Oezil, a Navas. A player whose brain is as fast as his feet, because it is the mental disciplines which England fail.
What do you think? Are Lampard and Co. the men to lead us to Euro 2012 or is it time for a total clearout of English dead-wood? Let me know below!
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