England have been down this road before. So many times.
The ‘Golden Generation’ failed to live up the standards and expectations set for them. As boosts to the nation’s hopes on the international stage, names like Phil Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Rodwell, Wilfried Zaha, Raheem Sterling, and countless others were hurried along in an attempt to surprise the opposition – you’d think – but largely to extract maximum now while sacrificing the harvest of further development and education at youth level.
Andros Townsend may be doing good things for Tottenham, though that line is based predominantly on hearsay. I’ve yet to see why Townsend is being touted as England’s ace card at the World Cup next year. I don’t really understand what he’s done to merit a new contract, other than Tottenham perhaps covering their backs, as they’ve done in the past. His goals, assists, conversion rate and everything else that you use to measure the impact and quality of a forward player have been horrendous. But he’s English, he’s fast and he’s new, relatively, so we’ll let all the important things slide for now.
It’s a little bit embarrassing, wouldn’t you say, that a player who’s been around for a few games in the top flight of English football is being touted as something of a saviour for England’s hopes at the World Cup. Some are asking whether Roy Hodgson’s men can win the tournament in Brazil – yes, the country, not Rio; it’s not the Olympics – and yet fail to recognise, for one reason or another, that other countries like the host nation and Germany and Spain have countless established senior players who can legitimately make a difference and who are head and shoulders better than Townsend. Oh, and Belgium, Colombia and Argentina are also a bit good.
Now look, that’s not to take away from Townsend’s ‘fantastic’ week; I’m sure it’s been great for him. You know, England don’t need a lot to get themselves going. But his two good performances for the national team came against teams who are not only well below England in terms of overall quality, but who are also not even going to Rio. Excuse me, Brazil. What happens when Townsend and his solitary Premier League goal faces the Netherlands, or Spain, or Italy?
Hodgson can take him with by all means; that’s not the point I’m arguing. The issue and the everlasting problem is that England don’t know how to calmly accept and manage a new or rising talent.
In comparison, Isco, for example, is being properly brought up at U21 level for Spain. Of course, it helps that the senior squad is so strong, but the mentality towards youth development of that country indicates that Isco, regardless of how good he is or his big-money move to Real Madrid, will always go through the proper means of development. How much good does it do to the player or the country to throw him in at the deep end?
Townsend is 22, and for the majority of his career he’s been playing in the Championship or for Championship-quality teams. Isco is 21.
But it’s not just Townsend. Ravel Morrison is another name who’s being spoken of as a surprise candidate for Brazil. Ravel Morrison, the kid who three months ago was nowhere near the public interest. In fact, why is he in the public eye now? He hasn’t torn through a Champions League team, or guided his club to the top of the Premier League table. Is he even that good? And I’m talking about now, is he even good enough to make an impact in the England senior squad at the World Cup? Forget what he might be in three or four years.
England’s failure is built on the need for instant success. There is an assumption that one or two players, no matter how old they are – or instead how young they are – will make a difference. If this mentality continues – and you have to assume it will – the nation and its development of youth will go nowhere.
Are England mismanaging the situation with these two youngsters?
Join the debate below
[cat_link cat=”premiership” type=”grid”]