By the time you have read this, the England football team may have been eliminated from the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Most of the current squad who are currently there are inexperienced and that would have been exposed on the pitch by their opponents in the competition.
The team are still scarred by the embarrasing defeat to Iceland in the European Championships two years ago. In fact they have had an appalling record in knockout games in both the Worlds and the Euros since 1966… and of course, don’t get started on the penalties…
This time around, with many of the more recent “golden generation” of players like Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, and of course Wayne Rooney (who were brilliant for their clubs, but were either both average and poor for England), leaving the international stage, the desperate search for talented players who can take on the best in the world will continue into the distant future.
The current squad in Russia, according to sports writers and many fans, is arguably one of the worst national sides going into any tournament in recent history, and as a result, very little is expected of them to progress very far. Current manager Gareth Southgate, a former international himself, is right to play down expectations.
If people think the team have problems now, it will ceratinly become a lot worse in the future. Despite the recent international success of the Under 17s, 19s and 20s in the last few years, many of those same young players will never get to start games in the first teams of many professional clubs, particularly in the top two leagues, the Premier League and the Championship. The number of English players play regularly in both leagues has fallen alarmingly, and although much of that is being blamed on the influx of foreign ownership of clubs preferring to buy players from abroad, there is a clear perception that many English players aren’t good enough to make the grade.
In the worst case scenario, there would be the fear that unless the organisations in the English game start working together, future national sides, due to the ongoing lack of real talent, will soon regularly miss out on qualifying to major tournaments… and that would be a disaster.