Saturday 19 August 2017 / 04:14 AM

Old Guard Should Inspire Young Guard

David Beckham’s England career may well have effectively ended a couple of years ago, however his official retirement from the game, along with that of Michael Owen and Paul Scholes amongst others, really signals the end of the English old guard.

It is quite amazing to think that despite the wealth of quality players possessed over the last fifteen years, the Three Lions failed to win anything.

In fact, they didn’t even get close, with Euro 1996 generally regarded as the nation’s last near footballing miss.

A worrying thought perhaps for the future as it is hard to imagine world stars like Beckham surfacing any time soon.

But that notion doesn’t quite put paid to England’s chances at the major tournaments for the foreseeable future.

Quality individuals may be missed from the game and the England team, however their inability to consistently play well together, as a unit, won’t be.

Far too many times on the big stage did the watching world witness much fancied England teams collapse and lose the tentative amount of cohesion that heated Premier League club rivalries always prevented from growing.

And ultimately, despite a number of excellent solo performances in an England shirt, the majority of this season’s high profile retiree’s will be mainly remembered as heroes at their club rather than as a part of national success.

The next generation of England players should therefore be inspired to achieve more than their illustrious predecessors in the white and navy.

It could well take a miserable Brazil 2014 World Cup to force a change of tack for the England backroom staff, nevertheless it now seems time to ditch the reputational selection process and blood a hard working team that can flourish together over the next generation.

Qualifying campaigns should be straightforward enough for young, hungry players who have started to make an impact in the Premier League.

And whilst the odd setback may be inevitable against decent opposition early on, it would not take too much time to mould a side similar to the one managed by Terry Venables during the 1990’s that almost experienced home glory by playing strong, direct attacking football.

A lack of strikers is clearly a worry on the national front but Wayne Rooney still has a chance to consistently lead the line like Alan Shearer did for so many years.

Shearer was a born leader as well as a powerful centre forward and his style of play influenced everyone around him.

If Rooney can really step up the plate on a regular basis and deploy his experience as well as talent, it would be no surprise to see an improving strike partner come through and also make a name for himself.

With players such as McManamann and Oxlade Chamberlain primed to add flair to the side, the future can definitely be bright for England and a tilt at a World or European Cup may not be too far away – even if it does mean forgoing some of the star treatment and individual recognition evident in recent times.

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Chris Kisby

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