Last Chance Saloon For Beckham Era England

Simon WilliamsSenior Analyst IAugust 21, 2008

Another England game, another largely woeful display, another debate about Gerrard, Beckham, Lampard, Terry, Joe Cole, shapes, systems, lack of technique, blah blah blah.

I am sick and tired of this crop of England players. They have had umpteen chances to prove their quality at International Level, and not since Euro 2004 have they looked anything like a cohesive unit.

We have tried new managers, new coaches, new balls, new kits, new stadiums, new pitches, everything in fact apart from the most salient part; New players.

I am willing to give them one more chance, a chance I don't think they will take, away to Croatia on Wednesday 10th September. They play the minnows from Andorra 4 days earlier in Barcelona. This is a non-contest, even for a team as putrid as England are at the moment, we will still probably struggle through with a two or three goal win.

Croatia are a different prospect altogether. Firstly, they have quality. Modric, Krancjar, Simunic, Srna to name but a few. Secondly, they have confidence. That elusive trait that England are completely devoid of appears in abundance in the Croatian team, from the effervescent coach Slaven Bilic to the hordes of fans who wear the red, white and blue chess board kit.

They also know how to beat England, having managed it twice in a row, the first with relative ease, the second with dramatic purpose. This match has to be the one that makes or breaks this England team.

If they can win, or at least play well in a draw, then confidence will return, hope will be ignited, the world will be our oyster again (until next time), and the likes of Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham, A Cole and James might just earn a suspended sentence.

Lose in the dismal style of old, and there can only be one course of events, this England team must be broken up, replaced by the enthusiasm and joy that only youth can provide.

We are told these are our best players, if anyone was picking a best England 11, the likes of Rio, Stevie G and Lamps would always feature. This may well be true, but what we know in our hearts and minds and what we see with our eyes are polar opposites.

We see players paralysed by fear, unable to make simple moves and passes, devoid of shape, and completely incapable of preventing dangerous counter-attack. This can go on no more, they have had their time, they initially promised much, even delivering a little, but the dreams have turned well and truly sour.

If this England team fails in Zagreb, then Fabio must dismantle it at once and build a new one, for a new era. It will take time, and there will be more downs, but it might just give us our football team back, and re-ignite hope in English hearts.

Agbonlahor, Young, Shorey, Richards, Noble, Wheater, Kirkland, Walcott, Milner, Taylor, your time is almost here. The old guard (some of which are not even that old), have wasted too many chances. We need your youth, we need your confidence, we need your arrogance and your bright eyes.

I am considering getting tickets for England's game with Kazahkstan at Wembley on October 11th. I know, I must be mad. I just hope that if I part with my money, I will see a team that resembles a team, and not a bunch layabouts plucked from the London streets. Reputations mean nothing, performance is everything.

The only way to achieve this is to put our faith in youth. England U21's have not lost a match in two years. They made the semi-final's of the 2007 European Championships (losing on penalties; some things will never change) and they work well as a unit.

The team I want to see on 11th October (fitness permitting) does not include Lampard or Beckham, Ashley Cole or Emile Heskey:

Goalkeeper: Kirkland (Sub - Carson)

Left Back: Shorey (Sub - Baines)

Right Back: Wheater (Sub - L Young)

Centre Back: Richards (Sub - Onuoha)

Centre Back: Ferdinand (capt) (Sub -  S Taylor)

Defensive Midfield: Hargreaves (Sub - Barry)

Defensive Midfield: Carrick (Sub - Noble)

Attacking Midfield Left: A Young (Sub - Downing)

Attacking Midfield Centre: Rooney (Sub - Huddlestone - his passing must feature further forward)

Attacking Midfield Right: Agbonlahor (Sub - Milner)

Centre Forward: Ashton (Sub - Walcott)