Friday, June 23, 2017

Is The Future Really Bright for England?

England’s U21 team have made it through to the U21 European Championships semifinals after beating hosts, Poland, 3-0! This result also ensured that our Young Lions finished top of their group, with second placed Slovakia finishing only 1 point behind us.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side had a mediocre start to the competition, drawing 0-0 with Sweden. The brightest point of that game being Jordan Pickford’s 81st minute penalty save. Things got better though as England eased past Slovakia, 2-1. A combination of poor defending and a cracking header put Sokolici in front but Mawson equalised with a tap in after the keeper failed to keep hold of the centre backs first effort before Nathan Redmond thumped home an absolute worldie in the 61st minute.

With so much expectancy going into the final game against Poland, you could understand if some of the young lads might have been nervous. But if they were nervous you’d have never guessed it! The England U21s dominated the game from start to finish.

Leicester winger Demarai Gray scored after 6 minutes to settle any nerves before he laid Norwich forward Jacob Murphy in for the second. The game was finish off after Tammy Abraham was brought down in the box, giving Chelsea loan star Lewis Baker the chance to round of a great day at the office from the penalty spot.

Demarai Gray calming everyone's nerves with this strike in the 6th minute.
Now this is an amazing feat for England’s U21s. They are in the last four of a major competition! I can only dream of doing something like that for my country. Every single player has played his part in getting their side here, we’re not relying on one big name to take us forward like the Senior team has for so many years…

...This is why it really saddens me to think that a number of these players will not get an England cap in the future. Unless these lads suddenly make big money moves to the right clubs, they will never get to pull on that England jersey. Even if these players go on to win the whole tournament...I predict that only 3 or 4 of them will become England regulars.

Some people might argue this with me but it’s not like it's never happened before and, like I always say, history has a funny way of repeating itself in football. In 2009 England’s U21s got to the European Championship final and were beaten by ze Germans 4-0. Let's look at the sides that played in that final.

Click to Enlarge.

Out of that starting eleven, five players currently have England caps (it would have been six if Joe Hart was able to play). But how many could you say are guaranteed starters for England? And out of the remaining six can you say that they definitely did not deserve England caps?

Out of the players who have caps, Richards and Gibbs haven’t played for England for a couple of years now, James Milner and Walcott still get selected quite regularly but aren’t guaranteed starters and the less said about Adam Johnson, the better. In fact the only player from that entire squad who is in the England eleven more or less every time is Joe Hart…

As for the players who currently don’t have any caps. Scott Loach and Martin Cranie have enjoyed long careers playing outside of the Premier League, with Cranie jumping around some high end Championship sides which Loach has been used mainly as a backup at 20 different clubs since 2004...yeah maybe they didn’t exactly warrant a call up...

But for me the rest easily could have had at least one cap. Onuoha was an incredibly underrated centre half, strong in the air, good on the deck and a leader at the back. Sadly though his career went south after the money got pumped into Manchester City. If that never happened I could see him be still being in the City side today.

Fabrice Muamba, Micah Richards and Lee Cattermole playing against Greece
We all know what happened to Fabrice Muamba, he’s one of the exceptions in this team as his career was cut short far too soon. Lee Cattermole on the other hand is still going and I am surprised that he’s never got a cap. Now I’m not saying he’s a world beater but at the end of the day you know what you get with Lee; you get tough tackling, a will to win and a leader in centre of the park. Something that the current England midfield is lacking…
~ Side note: I not saying Lee Cattermole or Nedum Onuoha deserve caps now, just that they did deserve them at one point ~

The final player to not receive an England cap was also the captain in the tournament, Mark Noble. Now I understand that over the years England have had the likes of Gerrard, Lampard and Barry over the years but...How. The. Fuck. Does Mark Noble not get a single England cap while the likes of Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere are in double figures?

Answer: Because they play for the right clubs.

The high profile clubs, the ones that look pretty. You have more a chance of playing for England if you’re on Arsenal’s bench than you do if you won the league with Leicester. And if you want proof of that then just look at Jack Wilshere going to the 2016 Euro’s ahead of Danny Drinkwater despite the fact he’d only played 3 games that entire season...absolutely piss poor selection.

Now this post isn’t here to make those kids think they’ll never play for their country. This post is here to make future England managers rethink their selections. Our current crop of U21s are a cracking bunch of footballers. They shouldn’t have to move to Manchester United or Chelsea just to get a chance at making their country proud again!

Anyways that’s all have to say on the matter. Best of luck to those lads, not just in this tournament but for the rest of their careers as well. They’re all quality footballers and deserve all the plaudits coming their way after this and hopefully it’ll attract some managers to start using them more in their first team games...unless you play for Chelsea in which case you’ll be rewarded with a loan move to Vitesse Arnhem. Oh well…

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Cheers for reading.

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