Could this be a successful era for English Football?

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has shown he can be a future leader for EnglandOff the field, England are more corrupt than Mario Balotelli in training. We’ve had the captain fiasco to deal with, a number of players showing no respect when pulling on the white shirt, and a manager who claims “only 100 words” are required to communicate with Lampard, Rooney, Terry et al.

On it however, recent performances against Wales and Ghana have definitely shown improvement. The emergence of the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ashley Young and Scott Parker has sparked a confidence that this developing squad could finally take England to the summit of international football. I’ll be the first person to admit; I’ve been sucked into high hopes from England, only to be let down like a popped balloon, but is the time here for us, the passionate footballing fans, to be optimistic about the future of English football?

Let’s rewind back to last year. South Africa, Saturday 12th June 2010. “And here’s Steven Gerrard…and England take the lead!” Clive Tyldesley’s voice had never sounded so sweeter. At this moment, the whole British population believed that perhaps 2010 was the year to end the barren run of 44 years without a trophy. But then the inevitable followed, a disastrous tournament compelled by a battering from the Germans. The New York Post front page, which read “USA WINS 1-1”, was just so demoralising that it became embarrassing to be English, humiliated in front of millions and the laughing stock of the footballing universe. This may not have been such a problem for the squad as they still received their tidy pay slips and walked away with not a care of what they had just done to English football, but the belief that England were not good enough to contest with world’s top nations was one that infiltrated the minds of the Spanish, the Dutch, the Brazilians, and I guess you could go as far to say all of the nations.

These countries, the ones that grace the field every four years, will be unaware of the resurgence in our own national squad. I say resurgence, we’ve only seen this 4-3-3 formation put to use in two matches. The fact of the matter is whatever formation Fabio Capello does opt for, there will be competition for places, which is good news for supporters but will cause a headache for the Italian, especially when considering the likes of Lampard, Gerrard, Wilshere and Parker will all be competing to dominate the central midfield positions.

These four midfield maestros have shown the roles they can play for the England setup, but does Capello play three of them in midfield? Or drop two and play the others in the centre of a four-man midfield? If he does drop two, which ones will they be? Wilshere and Parker have been exquisite for both club and country and have developed a perfect combination of chemistry and independence, but are either of them as attacking as Lampard or Gerrard? It is imperative that Capello figures the answers to these dilemmas before the 2012 European Championships, but time is on his side.

One factor which remains as a hamartia to the England squad, and has done for the past decade, is the mentality of the players. I remember hearing of a typical scenario which we no doubt would have endured had England manage to take the Germans to penalties. Whereas the likes of Mesut Ozil, Bastien Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski would have been dreaming of the praise and admiration they would have received by scoring a penalty, our England bottle jobs would have been fearing the uproar they would have faced from the public had they missed one. It is this simple response of fight-or-flight which hinders England and causes them to think negative instead of positive. To be honest, this isn’t helped by the pressure we put our ‘stars’ under, but who can blame us for putting up with the England National Squad, which promises so much and yet delivers so little.

I honestly believe the likes of Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Darren Bent, Young, Wilshere and Parker will do so much to bolster the freshness of England and present a different idea to go forward with. We now have Wilshere, who looks so composed on the ball and has that instinct that other England midfielders have lacked in recent years. In Scott Parker we have a midfielder who punches above his weight week in, week out for West Ham and will put his neck on the line. Ashley Young is the next Ryan Giggs, and Joe Hart looks readily assured to be the man between the sticks on a permanent basis.

Is this England squad good enough to contest with the top nations? At the minute, it’s a comprehensive no. But hopefully Capello can give this fresh new bunch the time required to adapt to one another, and I think we can be a successful nation, starting with the European Championships next year in Ukraine/Poland. Changing the mentality of the players shouldn’t be too difficult; Wilshere, Parker and Young all play with no fear, as they show every Saturday, and with Terry reinstated as captain the drive of the squad will return. A new leaf has been turned over in English football, but let me warn you, don’t hold your breath folks, this is England who we are talking about.

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