Tuesday, 6 September 2011

England: Dethroning the Golden Generation.

For over ten years the English public has talked of the "Golden Generation". A group of incredibly talented footballers, all the the pinnacle of not just the domestic, but the world game.

With the likes of Gerrard, Beckham, Ferdinand, Owen, Lampard, Terry and Cole; surely it would only be a matter of time before we had our hands on a major international trophy.

For over ten years we said this.

Ever since that night in Munich, which has been forgotten by everyone on earth except the English, we have expected success to fall at our feet.

But has it?

The short answer is, no.

The England national team with basically the exact same group of players, this "Golden Generation", has struggled to get past the quarter-final stages of any given tournament.

And now, as legs have become weary and minds slower, these ones are fading into the background, and a new crop is slowly emerging.

England's feeder club of the last twenty years (sorry West Ham), Manchester United, are leading the supply of fresh, talented faces.

The likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are joined by Joe Hart (who some forget is still relatively new to all this), Adam Johnson (who I believe should start every game for club and country), Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll.

Jack Wilshere is now established in midfield.

Not to mention slightly older players but who have been brought in to produce a fresh look to a stale team sheet- the Gary Cahills, Ashley Youngs and Scott Parkers.

In the past, the English arrogance of expecting to be the best has had a very detrimental effect on the English team.

Whereas other nations look at us as a country who are not quite in the elite, we view ourselves are leading the world game.

Sure, our domestic competition is without rival, but this does not translate into a top class International team, are slowly, very slowly, we are beginning to realise this.

We seem to think being in the final eight of a competition is a poor result when, in reality, that is probably exactly where we deserve to be.

It is true that for a long time, the best players in our best domestic teams were English: Beckham, Lampard, Owen. But that is not enough- England needs to be a team, not a group of spice boys attempting to inflate their own ego every time they step across the whitewash.

It seems that for a long time, the English players were basically taking part in an elaborate game of one-upmanship with each other; their club careers more important to them, so they used the international area as a way of showing the world why they are better than their club rivals.

With this new influx of players though, although from the best clubs in England, they seem to be more about the team. There doesn't seem to be any big time Charlies- they look to be a group of young players who want to do one thing: Win.

I'm not saying the "Golden Generation" didn't want this.

But it was clear they wanted a lot of other things, too.

WAGS, wages, sponsorship deals anyone?

Without lunging into the stereotypical England fan's speech of "this could be our year", it will say this: this new generation, may not ever win the World Cup, but they could well but a bit of heart and meaning back into the England shirt.

I would settle for a semi final slot in the European Championships next year- we certainly won't win it- Germany, Holland and of course, Spain we see to that.

But as long as we don't fold like lambs to the slaughter instead of the Lions England players should be, I'll be satisfied.

The team of the next ten years will more than likely have a very distinct Ferguson spine running through it; Smalling and Jones at the back, Wilshere, Cleverley in the middle and Welbeck, Young up top supporting the best player of the last fifteen years in Wayne Rooney. This should only mean one thing: victories.

But for now, be content. And let's just see what happens.

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