At 3pm yesterday, approximately 142 million Englishmen and women were meant to be watching the greatest English team of a generation beat the Germans with the style and verve not seen yet in this competition. What transpired was a performance as disappointing as many others, and despite the obvious error by an incredibly incompetent Uruguayan linesman, Germany were the better team. The team with a cutthroat sight for goal, a more organised defence and a midfield that simply strangled the life out of England.
Had Lampard’s goal been given, things would have been different. The confidence within the England camp would have been apparent, they wouldn’t have been distracted in the second half with trying to get on the official’s backs, they wouldn’t have been chasing the game leaving them vulnerable on the counterattack…but we’d have probably still lost on penalties. After losing 4-1, losing 4-1 on penalties doesn’t seem that bad…
And yet all the talk on the England players is the ‘Golden Generation’. Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, Terry, Ferdinand (albeit an injured one), both the Coles. This is a team with players known around the world just as much as Ronaldo, Messi, Villa, Drogba and Torres. But now the majority of the country is focusing on the natural pessimism of the fallout of the ‘morning after the night before’. This opportunity for this generation is passed and now every supposed pundit across our televisions and newspapers say there’s no one up-and-coming. There’s no new shining light. There’s no beacon of hope. Rubbish. And let me tell you why…
It’s easy for thoughts to be convoluted and sporadic at a time when your national team has been emphatically kicked out of the sports biggest competition, but in little more than a few months time they must begin building for Euro 2012. Don’t expect a complete overhaul…if that happens, what if the Welsh beat us?! Failure to qualify is infinitely worse than being kicked out of the last 16. Steve McClaren learnt that while stood under an umbrella at Wembley many moons ago…
Just forget about the manager and the tactics for a moment. Do we really believe there are no players to take the reins? Was this really the golden generation which left no children behind? Come on. Think about it. You know football. There are players out there. You know there are.
Allow me now to list a squad of 23 players of whom the oldest will be 31 come the next World Cup in 2014, let alone Euro 2012, and yet all of them have already started matches in the Premier League.
Oh, and a guy called Wayne Rooney.
There you have it then. The definitive squad. Of course, we need a third goalkeeper due to FIFA regulations, so perhaps chuck Ben Amos or Joe Lewis in there.
Of course they won’t all make it. Perhaps not even half of them will. I suspect at least two of Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and maybe even Frank Lampard at the age of 36 will still be there. Despite Rooney being a flop at this tournament, you’re all fools to disregard him. Dispose of him at your peril. Would you really have prefered Peter Crouch up front? Really?
Who knows what the future holds, but don’t be so down-trodden and crest-fallen. Yes, the class of 2010 were a better team than just getting to the last 16. But were they really better than Brazil, Spain, Argentina, the Netherlands and, dare I suggest, even Germany? Perhaps they never will be. The next World Cup is in Brazil, which naturally leads us to assume they’ll win it. Without making it sound like a dead rubber of a competition, believe that those 23 men now have 4 full years to nurture their brilliance. Allow them to play regularly in the Premier League. Allow them to play in Europe. Allow them to play for England, and allow them one day to lift the Jules Rimet. Without sounding too clichéd… YES WE CAN.