As a country that’s been waiting on a World Cup glory since 1966, England has had little regard for international football during the most recent times.
Nation Team Criticism
Devalued and depreciated, the Three Lions would often be at a receiving end of criticism for lack of results at the brightest stage.
Some it well-deserved due to the fact England players usually lack grit and determination the players from other countries display when playing against the Premier League stars. Some of it, on the other end, occurring almost chronically due to the fact English players fail to produce same level of performances they would display while away on international duty.
The recently finished World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign brought a renewed sense of optimism as Three Lions fought bravely to secure their place at the showpiece tournament in Russia where they will be given the final verdict however.
Additionally, the great success achieved by the nation’s Under-17 side is sure to help boost the reputation of the national team and restore some of its lost pride over the last couple of years.
Renewed Sense of Optimism
England Under-17s are coming off from a remarkable success achieved in India where manager Steve Cooper’s lads put in a series of brilliant, battling performances in a top-class tournament to lift the World Cup trophy and unite a nation in celebration last weekend.
Having clawed back to a formidable 5-2 victory over exciting Spanish side despite suffering from a 2-0 deficit, young players have displayed everything their senior English internationals have so long been accused of lacking.
Determination, dedication, union in victory and defeat, together with a remarkable team spirit all went to bring a smile upon even the most cynical football fans’ faces.
Having lost to the same opponents in this year’s European Championship final, England fought back to cap a wonderful year for England’s youth sides. The Under-19 side have been crowned European champions, whereas the Under-20s won the World Cup and Toulon Tournament which all make great case for a bright future of English game.
Resting on laurels would be a wrong thing to do as complacency could turn out to be England’s biggest enemy in this regard. With its future exciting and highly talented, England need to make sure not to let European Championship and World Cup winners drown in transition from youth to senior selections.
The FA and the Premier League should draw big conclusions from other countries’ poor choices which were most evident in the case of Serbia’s World Cup winning Under-19 (2013) and Under-20 (2015) generations that never got a chance to develop their full potential.
If English football authorities make all the right moves to protect their young stars from getting forgotten under the bright lights of the Premier League as the richest, strongest but also most dangerous league in the world, they could end up having a national team that – in a few years’ time – could go on to do big things.
For a country that brought home the Under-17 World Cup Golden boot winner in Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster and the Player of the Tournament in Man City’s Phil Foden, England cannot afford any more mistakes.
The emerging pool of talent heading forward from the Under-17 side is equally – if not even more – impressive than the one Three Lions have in older selections.
Preserving the Gems
In addition to the two aforementioned starlets, England boasts George McEachran – a midfielder from Chelsea – the younger brother of Josh McEachran, currently a Brentford player. Steven Sessegnon from Fulham, a brother of another highly talked-about English teenager Ryan Sessegnon. Let’s not forget Jadon Sancho, a former Manchester City talent now plying his trade at Borussia Dortmund.
The biggest challenge for English FA and the Premier League officials will be to provide appropriate surroundings for these young stars. Fast-tracking them into their respective clubs’ first teams is not necessarily a great solution as they would either be nailed down to the substitute bench or just training with the big boys, without a chance to strut their staff among their peers.
The loan-out system could be a solution, but clubs and league officials need to make great care of where they send these delicate flowers in efforts to avoid seeing them crushed and stomped on at some muddy League One or Two pitches across the country.
Improving the league system and updating it by reintroducing a central reserve league instead of the Under-23 system suggested by Stan Collymore in the Mirror.
Could that be the best solution to preserve the emerging stars and prevent them from fading away?
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