The Kids May Never Be More Than Alright...

Jack Wilshere never got better, Theo Walcott hasn't improved, so why are we assuming that Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, Daniel Sturridge etc will be better in two years?

Last Updated: 25/06/14 at 09:35 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Gerrard's Decay Becoming Sadly Apparent

24 comments

No-one likes to see a once great player suffering through the decline of his own body. John Nicholson believes some difficult decisions lie ahead for Steven Gerrard...

Just Put Him Out Of His Misery...

8 comments

Alan Pardew looks unhappy, the supporters are certainly unhappy and the players don't exactly look enthused either. It's better for everybody if the misery ends now...

All Articles

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

When the good ship England sinks into the seas of international humiliation, we cling onto wreckage to stop ourselves from drowning. The old players have failed time and again; we tire of the same old faces making the same old excuses and promising that next time it will all be different.

So we turn to the young, untried players for hope. We want to believe in untainted youth and that is exactly the rubber ring to which England are being asked to cling as we attempt to stay afloat in the international waters of the future.

But for all the talk of England's good young players offering hope for the future, we need to be aware that England's history is littered with players who were 'the future', only to stagnate and then never develop into the top-notch player it was assumed they'd become. In fact, the current squad has several players who fall into that category.

When you look at Phil Jones aged 21, is he any better now than he was two years ago? Will he get significantly better? Jack Wilshere's form seemed to peak when he was out injured 18 months ago. Now 22, his decline since is remarkable. He hasn't got better, he's got worse. Will he become a world-class midfielder?

Is Danny Welbeck at 24 and long-thought of as a young striker of much potential, really a whole lot better than he was three years ago? Chris Smalling, 24, was hailed as one of England's best young defenders at Fulham but now looks short of international standard by some distance.

Theo Walcott is now in his mid 20s and would you really feel he's made significant progress since he was 20? Is he going to be significantly better in two years? When James Milner broke into the Leeds side as a teenager, he was another thought to have much future potential for England. Now 28, that seems a long time ago and he remains a solid hard worker but nothing more. Is Joe Hart, now 27, really significantly better than three or four years ago? He's not. And of course Wayne Rooney was long vaunted as the key to England's success after an explosive international start but that oft-predicated future England peak never came. He'd actually peaked very young.

So when Daniel Sturridge is hailed as England's striker for the next three or four years after a great domestic season, we should take it with a pinch of salt. History would suggest he might not get any better than he is now - which is still not good enough, as his squandering of several chances in the last three games proved. Indeed, it is as or more likely he may become significantly worse. Similarly, for all of Raheem Sterling's impressive form for the last six months, we can't by any means take it for granted that he'll be significantly better for England in two years' time. The same goes for Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw. Good at 20 does not mean world-beater at 23 when it comes to England.

The failure to push on after a promising start is surely not just an English thing, but our keenness for liberation from ordinariness makes us invest more in the hope they offer. I'm a fan of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as much as anyone else, but the idea that he's on an inevitable curve towards England greatness - I heard him talked of as a future captain this week - is pure folly. It might happen but then, we thought that about Wilshere two years ago. It's not excessive cynicism to think it might well not happen.

Improvement does occasionally occur. Jordan Henderson, now 24, is certainly an improved player in the last season, but would you really want to rely on Henderson flourishing into a top international player in two years' time? It is just as easily to imagine him being another one about whom we say 'well he was good a couple of years ago'. We seem to say that about a lot of English players, generation after generation.

Perhaps it is the desperate hope that the young players will be the ones to change our fortunes that heaps pressure on them, over-inflates their worth and leads ultimately to their failure to deliver? When it comes to England, all too often, the kids turn out not to be the future and soon enough become the past.

John Nicholson - he's on Twitter

Sad, but true. We have very good players, but never world beaters. The closest we had was Rooney, briefly, but the rest of these players are plato'ing. They're levelling out just below the required standard, as has Rooney now. I said it before the tournament, and I'll say it again. The problem with England isn't Rooney or Hodgson; the problem with England is England.
- HarryBoulton

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

H

ilarious, thanks for that. But if I may, I do suspect the reason of your partners' ire is not Tottenham, but most probably all the compusilve gambling :)

DannySmith
Backing Costa To Keep Banging 'Em In

T

wo police horses in a paddock. Horse 1: What's with the long face? Horse 2: I'm working St James Park this weekend.

hump3.
Pardew braced for protests

T

wo things. First, I can't stop reading your name as 'Dane Bowers'. Second, you used the words 'philosophy' and 'Redknapp' in the same sentence.

ajsr1982
Can United's Defence Handle Ulloa?

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Championship: Norwich investigate claim of homophobic abuse

Norwich are investigating an allegation of homophobic abuse during their Championship game with Birmingham City.

Juan Mata apologises for Manchester United's shock defeat to Leicester

Juan Mata has apologised to Manchester United fans after the team's embarrassing capitulation at Leicester on Sunday.

Premier League: West Ham's Diafra Sakho relishing Enner Valencia link-up

Diafra Sakho reckons West Ham can spring a few more surprises in the Premier League this season.

Mail Box

Will Rodgers Finally Drop Gerrard?

The mailbox wants to know if Brendan Rodgers has the stones to drop Steven Gerrard. Plus, thoughts on Wayne Rooney's display, sitting down, and thanking United fans...

Clattenburg And Assistants Should Be Suspended

It's a Mailbox containing Manchester United fans taking defeat to Leicester pretty well, plus some long thoughts on Gerrard and Liverpool, plus Southampton congratulations...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property