In the wake of a dismal World Cup for England, sights were immediately set to the future after the supposed ‘Golden Generation’ had all but eroded and embedded themselves firmly in the footballing annals for England, with many proving to be mere iron pyrite for the national team.
However, the future is blurry to say the least for England, with some promise and good intentions, some discouraging signs and a lot of rudderless talent hoping they don’t slip the net. With the FA and Premier League looking towards the future of the national team with recent changes in squad rules, perhaps it is time they brought someone in to tie all the loose ends together and create an English production line, and in my opinion, they need look no further than Tony Carr.
With nearly 40 years experience in youth coaching at ‘The Academy of Football’ at West Ham, Carr has become one of the most successful and influential youth coaches in the country, not only creating an estimated £80m in transfer revenue for the club, but nurturing these players into international footballers. In Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick and John Terry, Carr has a ‘Magnificent Seven’ to his name which regularly attain spots in the English national team, and with many more having played at youth levels for their country, it is no wonder so many turned out to honour him in May at a testimonial match held at Upton Park.
The fact that so many did come to show their appreciation reveals the gravity of the man within football and emphasises the respect he commands from all quarters of the game. In Sir Trevor Brooking the FA also have a perfect liaison with Carr with both having been involved at West Ham for most of their lives. Carr would also not necessarily have to be as hands on as he is at West Ham, perhaps advising the FA on youth development in a consultancy role, overseeing and delegating rather than actively coaching.
With the new squad rules taking effect this season, the FA has taken the first tentative steps towards a future which doesn’t include England being cast into the international wilderness. But with some English-based foreign players being counted as ‘Home-Grown’ we can only hope there is more to come from the FA. That said, the performance of the England Under-17s in Liechtenstein, where they lifted the European Championship trophy earlier this year, shows it is not all doom and gloom for the national team and there are promising youngsters in the pipeline.
But if the likes of Ipswich Town’s Connor Wickham are to grace the future national team and not the pages of ‘Whatever Happened To…’ articles, then there needs to be an experienced man overseeing national youth development, and there is no better candidate than Tony Carr.