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

Just Put Him Out Of His Misery...

7 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...

Prepare To Be A Human Piñata, Roy...

19 comments

It's obvious to Johnny what is about to happen to Roy Hodgson. The press are going to try and break him before installing a new man, preferably someone without any experience...

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

W

riting a minute by minute account on Berbatov would be like chronicling the days of the guy punished for sloth in the movie Se7en. Day 4 - lay in bed, did nothing - 15th minute, stood there did nothing .

lustral
Taking A Close Look At Mario...

W

hen players in their 30s leave Real Madrid, it's usually to Bolton Wanderers. I miss those days.

sailingmagpie
Top Ten CL Players Whetting Our Appetite

W

ow Pete, you would make an excellent stalker!

fouloleron
Taking A Close Look At Mario...

Latest Photos

Footer 365

FIFA world rankings: England move up after Switzerland victory

England, Northern Ireland and Wales move up the latest FIFA world rankings after recent wins in Euro 2016 qualifying.

Premier League: Liverpool looking for Mario Balotelli to learn from past stars

Brendan Rodgers hopes Mario Balotelli will take inspiration from the likes of Luis Suarez as he settles at Liverpool.

Premier League: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew aware of pressure

Alan Pardew admits both he and his Newcastle squad have to 'stand up and deliver' as pressure mounts at St James' Park.

Mail Box

Could Arsenal Benefit From Top Four Exit?

That's one idea in the morning mailbox as the Arsene Wenger debate rumbles on. Plus, comparing Welbeck to Gervinho and some advice for Greg Dyke and the FA...

I've Given It Some Thought: He's Got To Go

There is some more considered reaction to Arsenal and Liverpool's results, plus a big get well soon message for Jonas Gutierrez. And an apology to Merse...

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