Jack Rodwell has stood up for England after the recent 1-1 draw in the UEFA European U21 tournament against Spain. Despite the fact that England battled back to get a draw the general consensus was that Spain dominated the game and was much the better team.
It would be pointless to suggest that England is as good as Spain at keeping the ball – because clearly they are not. However, football isn’t all about keeping the ball – it’s also about what you would do with it and it should be noted that despite the amount of the ball Spain had they failed to put England to the sword.
England U21 star feels that Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John terry, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney would all get into the current Barcelona team. To be fair to Jack these players have had fantastic careers and perhaps could have played for major European clubs – but I fear that time has come and gone. At the stage of their career at the moment – it’s is somewhat unlikely that Terry, Gerrard, Lampard or Ferdinand would break into the Barcelona team. Therefore, Wayne Rooney would be the only one from that list with any sort of a chance,
Rodwell goes on to suggest that there are English players with fantastic technical ability and the fact that English players have come up to play in a different style than in Spain. This is certainly right and opens up the debate on if we should be trying to emulate Spain or just find our own way to win games. Yes, the model from Spain seems to be the way forward at the moment – but there are usually several ways to do something. Even if we reached the conclusion that English players could never keep the ball as well as the Spanish – does that mean England can’t be better? Just find another way.
As we always hear in tournaments when England fails to deliver what we all hoped the Premier League is different – it’s exciting and fast paced but nothing like international football. Certainly it’s a challenge to get up to the level of Barcelona and Spain at the moment, but it’s not impossible. England has a number of players coming though and will be playing at a high level in the Premier League and in some cases the Champions League.
Jack Wilshere can now be considered a regular in the Arsenal first team and a man that will get selected in the England team. There are certainly other players within the current England U21 set-up that can expect to break into the full England side. Scott Sinclair is another exciting talent that did very well in the Championship last season with Swansea and will now get the opportunity to show what he can do in the Premier League.
But as ever it’s obvious to look at players that have commanded a high transfer fee. Andy Carroll may have transferred for £35m in January – but there is little doubt that he is a another top talent and is another player that have made the transition from England U21’s to the full England team. Carroll managed to score 13 Premier League goals last season – a combined total for both Liverpool and Newcastle. Carroll will have big season to prove himself next season with the added pressure of him expected to do well.
Phil Jones has also stood out as an exciting prospect and his £16m move to Manchester United can only improve him as a player. Currently Jones is playing in the UEFA European U21 championship with Rodwell and is already getting rave reviews for his performances at the back. Some people have raised their eyebrows at the move of Jordan Henderson from Sunderland to Liverpool. However, again the move will benefit the player – especially as Liverpool look to become a major force in English football again.
So there is plenty to feel optimistic about and although Spain look much better than England at the moment – it took them a long time to get to that level and for years Spain looked like a team that constantly underachieved. So maybe England should be looking at Spain for inspiration for what can happen rather than jealous envy.
Someone else that might provide some inspiration is a player in the England U21 set-up and that is Michael Mancienne moving to Germany to play his football. Could England perhaps learn something by have more players playing outside of the UK. That is certainly something to consider.