After Friday night’s defeat to Chile at Wembley, a lot was said about England’s strength in depth. With injuries to Sturridge, Welbeck, Gerrard, Walker and Carrick it seemed that Roy Hodgson was unsure of who to turn to. The England manager fielded three debutants; Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez of Southampton as well as Fraser Forster of Celtic. However, all three failed to impress and found the occasion slightly too big.
With the Chile fans in fine voice, Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona put the South American side ahead after just 7 minutes, latching onto a cross and heading home at the back post. The game was a quiet affair and the second Chile goal came in the dying minutes when Sanchez got on the end of a through ball and chipped the ball over the head of an on rushing Forster, sealing England’s fate. However, the worrying aspect was not the result – but the lack of desire and cutting edge from the home side. Without talismanic captain and leader, Steven Gerrard, England were slow to turn defence into attack and lacked a killer ball all game. The introduction of Townsend and Henderson brought some direct attacking flair but it was too little, too late to cause the Chilean side any problems.
This is not entirely the fault of Hodgson and Co. The bottom line is that there are not enough talented, young English footballers plying their trade at the highest level. With all the money being thrown around, Premier League teams prefer to go for cheaper, yet more talented, foreign players. This means that young English players are left to do their business in the Championship or at lower Premier League sides. However, despite this, the FA continue to pick the same players from the ‘big teams’, to no avail. Some of talent available to the FA at ‘smaller’ clubs is superior to the average players that start for the national side because they play for the six or seven best teams in the country. The likes of Fabian Delph are talents that are worth an attempt in preparation for next summer’s World Cup. Soon, we will be saying by to Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole and adequate replacements need to be found.
The likes of Brazil, Spain & Germany are producing talent by the dozen and have depth in abundance. If this is not matched by England soon, we may fall much further behind than 17th in the rankings. This has to begin from the age of six to eight. Children must be taught how to control the ball, pass, move and receive a return ball. The route one football taught to young kids is only going to cost the country in fifteen years time. Children have to receive an education of the game that can benefit the country and compete with the household names at World Cups. Until then, there is no way England stand a chance of winning any silverware for a long, long time. Not qualifying for the World Cup would have been disastrous but would have give the FA a huge kick up the backside to sort out the grass roots and start producing talents from a young age, teaching them the essence of the beautiful game.
It won’t be a quick fix but over time, will help the English game in the long run.