Sunday, June 5, 2011

Darren Bent Shows Exactly Why England Have No Chance In 2012

Every year when the international fixtures roll around you really want to start feeling optimistic. You want to be excited about your team, bullish about their chances in the upcoming major tournament, and confident that you are worshiping a squad of players capable of bringing silverware to the country you love.

As the years have progressed, I have found it more and more difficult to feel such emotions when considering the future of the English national team. Yes there have been highs; the massacres of Germany in 2001, and Croatia in 2008 were brilliant, as was Rooney's ascendance to the top of the game in Portugal. However, such memories are becoming fewer, farther between, and now they are starting to fade, their replacements being the Wally with the Brolly, Wazza's stamp and Uruguayan refereeing decisions.

As much as I would love to put these disasters down to bad luck, or refereeing injustice, I simply can't. There is something wrong with the English National Team, and it has nothing to do with penalty shoot outs or Steve McClaren. Even if England could produce decent managers, and even if the team had any kind of mental fortitude, they would still come undone when it mattered most. The truth of it is, England boast a playing staff inferior to that of their main European rivals. While the Villa in the Spanish squad is David, the one most associated with that name in England is Darren, quite simply, Villa's Bent is nothing to Barca's Villa.

Undoubtedly, England were poor when pitted against a lively Swiss side on Saturday afternoon; shorn of one or two key players they lacked fitness and creativity. It would be easy to blame their deficiencies on the absence of Rooney and Gerrard, but one must only look at Spain's performance yesterday, when their reserve side ripped apart the United States on the opposite side of the pond, for confirmation that England have much work to do. Spain were vibrant, full of ideas and imagination, and that was without arguably their most important player in Xavi Hernandez.

While the goals role for Spain, you can be sure the excuses will for England, such is the nature of their converse mentalities. Over in Germany, when the national team was embarrassed at Euro 2000, they rebuilt, investing heavily in the promise of youth, and subsequently reached the latter stages of a series of high profile international tournaments. England meanwhile, continued to stall on the building of a high tech footballing academy, allowing their wealth of young talent to stagnate, contributing to the current dearth of real international quality.

One of England's best performers yesterday, Jack Wilshere, represents what could have been for the English National Team, had they realized that instead of paying an Italian over the odds to do nothing, they should have invested those precious pounds into the development of a playing staff capable of competing with that of Germany and Spain.

In seven days time, the England U21s will kick off against their Spanish equivalents in the Uefa U21 Championship. That match will pit the finest youngsters that England have to offer, against those possessed by Spain. The match is likely to be an embarrassment, a lesson in how to develop youth, but I fear that even then the obstinate English will refuse to learn the error of their ways.

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