You can’t win anything with kids…
A youthful Sir Alex Ferguson's team defied these now infamous words to go on to win a legendary treble, but can an England International side follow suit?
Written By Robert Innes - June 9, 2016
Heading in to this Euro 2016 tournament is one of the most inexperienced England international teams in living memory. With an abundance of youth exploding on to the England scene from Raheem Sterling to the Everton duo Ross Barkley and John Stones to the Tottenham youngsters Eric Dier and Harry Kane, this has seen only 4 players from Euro 2012 make it into the current England squad! These players, if you were curious, are Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney, James Milner and Jordan Henderson. Given that Jordan Henderson has just recovered from a recent injury and James Milner is not certain to start, it now shows a severe lack of experience in the starting line-up; but whether or not experience actually matters is up for debate.
A game that will live longer in Germans fans memory than it may in England fans is a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Germans in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. This is relevant to the current set up as the team that beat England on that day had a starting line-up with an average age of under 25! With the exception of German legends Klose and Friedrich, there was no one even close to the age of 30 in that team. This group of ‘kids’ reached the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, the semi-finals of the 2012 Euros and eventually won the 2014 World Cup. Not unlike Sir Alex’s class of ’92, the Germans were a team of young players who became superstars as opposed to superstars who came together to become a team.
With this in mind, it becomes of the upmost importance that, just like Ferguson’s treble winning team and the German World Cup winners, England actually play the young talents that they have. A Sven Goran Eriksson with Theo Walcott situation does not benefit the player or the team. You may not win anything with kids this year but provided they are played, you may just win the biggest trophies in international football in the years to come or at least get past the group stages stumbling block experienced in recent years.
Finally, one of the largest obstacles in the path of the England International team in recent years has been expectation. Not the fault of players who show themselves to be excellent individuals at their clubs, nor the fault of the fans (who should always expect the best from their players), but the fault of the media. Too often young players have unfair and unrealistic expectations mounted upon them and then face harsh criticism when the don’t deliver. This has been seen most recently in promising Everton centre half John Stones who is the first ball playing centre half England have seen since the young days of Rio Ferdinand. A curtailing of expectations and enjoyment of young talent with little fear may be in order.
Whatever happens in the coming Euros we can be sure that those infamous words on Mr Alan Hansen will be sure to fall in deaf ears as long as they are directed to young players who are talented, determined, confident and hardworking enough to know that it does not apply to them.