After the disastrous 2010 FIFA World Cup, England can now look forward to travelling to Poland and the Ukraine for the European Championships in 2012.
The 2-2 draw with Montenegro was all that was required for the Three Lions to claim their place in next year’s finals, however, having done it the hard way yet again by surrendering a 2-0 lead, doubts will continue to surface and following a fantastic start to the Under 21s own qualifying campaign the question on many England fans’ lips is can the next generation provide real cause for optimism?
The young Lions have begun their quest for a place in the 2013 European Championships in Israel in blistering fashion having recorded two wins from two, scoring nine goals without reply in the process, and with a 4-1 friendly victory against the the tournament hosts sandwiched in between, it is the sort of form which is giving the country a good vibe at present.
Their current success is not only drowning out the disappointment of crashing out of the recent U-21 European Championships at the second round stage, but it is also creating a positive platform for the future of the England national side. Stars such as Phil Jones and Danny Wellbeck, who were key figures in this year’s tournament in Denmark, both featured for the senior squad against Montenegro last Friday night.
Despite the senior squad struggling in major tournaments in recent times, many supporters agree that as a footballing nation we are in good shape for the years ahead, and with the likes of Arsenal pair Henri Lansbury and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that perspective is proving well founded. Having scored in the friendly against Israel and bagging a brace in the 6-0 qualifying win over Azerbaijan, 20-year-old Lansbury is in great goal scoring form for his country and after scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 success against Iceland last week at the tender age of 18, Oxlade-Chamberlain is a definite star in the making.
After his match winning exploits in that match his manager Stuart Pearce had nothing but praise for him and claims he has improved greatly over the last few months. Speaking on the official F.A. website Pearce enthused:
“Alex Chamberlain was outstanding tonight. He’s a real talent and gave us that cutting edge. He’s a team-member as well; his general all-round performance was very, very good.
“He’s a talented boy who has come on in leaps and bounds since we had him with us at the back end of last season, which is very pleasing. Alex is very level-headed, but you have to say that anyone scoring a hat-trick on international duty has done very well and it’s very pleasing for any manager.”
Despite taking all the plaudits for the brilliant victory, Oxlade-Chamberlain is modest about his performance and has his own praise for fellow young international colleagues, telling Sky Sports News: “The most important thing was for the lads to win and get three more points for qualifying. It’s a team performance.
“We have only conceded one goal so far so the boys at the back are doing a good job and so are the boys in midfield – the likes of Jordan Henderson and Jack Rodwell – they are playing together well.”
Although it seems a lot of hope is being penned on the next crop of stars not everyone is of the same opinion, in fact when asked, one supporter of 20 years believes that the amount of foreigners in the game today is a real problem for the development of young talented English footballers.
He claims: “Foreign players are definitely ruining the national team as there are not enough youngsters coming through at any of our clubs, especially from the top four, I think there should be a better policy on the home grown part of the 25 man premiership squads.”
Although the supporter feels this is a big concern he went on to insist that with better care in the way clubs are run, up and coming players including Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley can no doubt be a big part of the set-up within the next couple of years.
It must be said that the negativity is from a small percentage of the patriot public and is more a result of concern rather than lack of belief. In hindsight, by displaying the correct ambition and maintaining their development, the next generation can indeed breed confidence in all.