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Are England Lost in Transition?

Roy Hodgson starts his new role as England manager this week as focus shifts from the drama of the Premier League to the International prestige of Euro 2012.

The initial shock of Hodgson’s appointment has passed and fans are now waiting to see who will be included in his first squad announcement this Wednesday.

England has had the same core team for the last 4 tournaments so no one expects there to be many shock inclusions. Even so the question being asked by many is whether Hodgson should go with youth or experience.

The pros and cons are there for all to see. The old guard are the better players but do they ever impress at big tournaments? The youngsters are the next generation of talent but do they possess enough skill and experience to threaten the very best nations?

The upcoming Euros certainly offer the perfect chance for Hodgson to experiment with his squad.

Most would agree that our senior players are still the best we have to offer. Players such as Gary Cahill aren’t yet as good as John Terry. Isn’t it more important to aim high with the best players available than worry over who needs experience?

This would seem fair considering England’s best XI on paper normally consists of mostly over 30s:

(4-4-1-1) Hart; Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole; Walcott, Parker, Lampard, Young; Gerrard; Rooney

Fans may argue over the wingers but the rest of the side has been the same for a while. They’re all talented footballers who should be able to play together so why not give them one last hurrah?

After all the Italian World Cup winning side of 2006 consisted mainly of players in the twilight of their careers so why can’t England replicate their success?

Unfortunately these English players have never proven themselves on the International scene. While Italy may illustrate that age is not the deciding factor, it doesn’t take into account the issues that have plagued England during the golden generation.

Can Lampard and Gerrard play together? Who will partner Wayne Rooney? Plus there are now serious personal issues between Rio Ferdinand and John Terry due to the Chelsea captain’s unresolved court case.

Surely then Euro 2012 is an excellent chance for England to give the next generation of players their chance so they’re ready for 2014 World Cup. Especially since there is currently little attention on the team and the underwhelming appointment of Hodgson has failed to spark national pride.

When was the last time England entered a tournament with so little expectation on their shoulders?

If fans accept the seniors will fail to impress again then it would make sense to try the youngsters.

A more youthful feel would leave the side looking very different:

(4-4-1-1) Hart; Walker, Cahill, Lescott, Baines; Johnson, Rodwell, Cleverley, Young; Rooney; Welbeck

Most fans would have little faith in this side lifting the trophy but it’s important to understand it would be an investment for the future.

How do players like Leighton Baines seamlessly replace Ashley Cole if they don’t play until their predecessor retires?

Germany showed at Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup that trusting the next generation can help blend a team from an early age. Players like Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller impressed at Under 21 level and were backed to carry that form into the senior team.

England’s reliance on their senior stars has often prohibited them from transitioning the next crop of youngsters into the side.

Given that Hodgson has just begun his new role he is unlikely to gamble with a young squad but he does have an opportunity to find a successful mix of youth and experience.

The old adage “you can’t win anything with kids” still makes Alan Hansen blush but it does hold some truth. Manchester United brought through youngsters that year but the core of the team was still players like Schmeichel, Keane and Cantona.

Unlike England, United have always managed to transition their team successfully. When Michael Carrick signs he plays with Paul Scholes. When Chris Smalling joins he plays alongside Rio Ferdinand. It allows each player to learn from their predecessor without the pressure of filling their shoes.

It’s important for England to trust the next generation of talent. If fans have already written off their chances then why not try transitioning our youngsters alongside more experienced campaigners?

It’s a difficult decision for a new manager to make but isn’t a fresh squad with a few old heads the best solution for England going forward?

Article title: Are England Lost in Transition?

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