With England having been eliminated from the World Cup, the fans, players’ and manager’s thoughts have now turned to the European Championships in 2016.Before the tournament started the English media were grounded; they had lower expectations than usual.
Some believed that if the younger ‘exciting’ players were selected, and if the more experienced guys like Gerrard and Rooney stepped up to the mark, then a quarter final was a possible achievement. After being dumped out of the competition, excuses were being made that England would have a better equipped squad to make a serious assault come the European Championship in 2016.
Discovering that the likes of Sterling, Lallana, Barkley, and to some extent Luke Shaw, could play and impose themselves, at international level meant focus immediately turned to France in 2016. While these players have unquestionable talent, the chances of England actually doing anything noteworthy in France in two years time are yet another falsehood.
England fans must remember that they are not the only country producing talented young players. Spain for example has the likes of Koke, Thiago Alcantara and Isco to name a few to come into the team and make an impact. France have the youthful Paul Pogba who is line for the Young Player of the Tournament award in this World Cup and Raphael Varane, a defender who Jose Mourihno described as ‘having the most potential he has ever seen’ – not bad considering who he was worked with during his career.
Holland have the exciting Daley Blind who has been linked to Manchester United well before his impressive display against Spain in their opening group game, and Bruno Martins a 22-year-old who is described by many as the next Vincent Kompany.
Germany has an array of promising stars; Mario Gotze is 22, Marco Reus is only 25 and Julian Draxler, the 23-year-old rising star from Schalke, has attracted interest from Chelsea and most notably Arsenal of late. Belgium is producing a conveyor belt of talent and the Golden Generation of players will have the necessary experience in two years.
While Italy are losing Pirlo after this World Cup, they have another exciting young player in Marco Verratti who was named Young Player of the Year in France and has all the attributes to justify his huge asking price and fill the void left by the midfield maestro.
Other countries like Croatia will always be strong, producing talented players like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who has just signed for Barcelona to replace Xavi.
The idea that in two years England will have a squad capable of winning the competition is difficult to take seriously considering the vast amount of talent available to other countries. England failed to win a major competition with the likes of Gerrard, Lampard and Beckham in midfield, three of the best players the country has produced in the modern era. Now, the media will tell you Sterling, Barkley and Lallana, players with no previous experience on any other stage than the Premier League, are the new saviours of English football. If England couldn’t put a realistic challenge forward with proven Premier League and Champions League winners, then this writer worries about their chances with this new crop of ‘talent’.
However, England do have a manager who is willing to give the younger players a chance, and teams like Costa Rica, U.S.A and Chile have shown throughout this World Cup that players do not need to be valued at 30-40 million to compete at this stage.
That said, if England have any hope of competing well in France in 2016, then their ‘rising stars’ need to ignore the English media who will try and convince the world about these players’ ability, just like they did with an above average Wayne Rooney. These youthful English players need to work hard on their own game and develop into real players rather than the overhyped Nike or Adidas painted superstars from previous years.
Enda Walsh, Pundit Arena.