Saturday, June 10, 2023

Not many positives from England’s youngsters

Graham Fisher in Editorial, General Soccer News 20 Jun 2011


Searching for positives

I watched all three of England’s group games in the European under twenty-one championships and was as disappointed as any Englishmen to see our team draw two matches and lose one and get on the early plane home. The fact that we were battered by Spain and sneaked a draw, looked clueless in our uninspiring goalless draw with Ukraine and played marginally better but ultimately lost to a pretty poor Czech Republic side, made the whole experience a totally dismal one.


After the third humiliation in a week manager Stuart Pearce was asked what positives had come out of the tournament. He replied that there were lots of positives. For example, his whole back four and goalkeeper had been exceptional and all the players now had experience of tournament football.

In fairness to Pearce, he didn’t try to insist on there being any other positives as even he could see that he would have been clutching at straws if he had. Luckily, he didn’t repeat the Capello mantra of his players being too tired. That would have been too much to take.


It is true that England would have had more creativity if Jack Wilshire had been there and had not been ‘too tired’ and they would have carried more of a goal threat if Andy Carroll had been there and had not been ‘too injured’, but the worry is that apart from those two, this was as good as it gets for the cream of England’s young talent.

The keeper, Frankie Fielding, did OK in fairness, but he will never be England’s best goalkeeper. At least if he is, things will have reached a worrying state. Right back Kyle Walker looked great in the first game against Spain but when the other teams saw his rampaging running and put players in his way to stop him, he failed to impress. Left back Ryan Bertrand did OK as well, but again, he will never be a full international.


The only real positives came in the centre of defence where Manchester United pair Phil Jones and Chris Smalling looked very good. They are definitely ones to watch and may well have a long international career ahead of them. Jones, especially, who was the second youngest member of the squad at nineteen and captained the side in third game, looks to be the real deal.

In midfield there was a total lack of flair and creativity. Not one player seemed capable of keeping the ball. The long diagonal ball was seen time after time and the end result was, almost without fail, the ball going back to the opposition. Liverpool fans will not have been too thrilled by the contribution of Jordan Henderson, who worked really hard
but looked anything but twenty million pounds worth of player.


Henri Lansbury looked quite good when he came on and Tom Cleverley did a couple of nice things, but neither player looked anywhere near ready for the next stage. Daniel Sturridge showed enough to see that he is worth persevering with and that someone, be it Chelsea or someone else, should give him a run in the Premier League, and Danny Welbeck at least scored two goals.

It was a disappointing performance from England’s youngsters but you can’t fault their effort and endeavor. It was the basic lack of ability that stopped them from going further and that is the problem with the English game, not the fault of the individual players.


What is needed, if England are to succeed at international level, is a total change in the way English football is played. That is not going to happen and the fans wouldn’t be happy in the transition period. Instead, what is actually needed is for English people to be happy that we have four excellent professional leagues who produce entertaining football for nine months of the year and to accept that the likelihood is that whilst we continue to do that, we probably won’t have a decent international team.

All we have to do then is stop the media telling the world that we have the best players and we are going to win everything!!


Graham Fisher



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Ahmed Rasim
Ahmed Rasim
11 years ago

sorry to lover but Stuart Pearce damaged england young star his thinking was -ve
and this will make player spirit in -ve

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