Everywhere I turn, whether a newspaper, a radio station or even twitter, I hear from all angles how the structure of English football is flawed. Claims that England will never build on their World Cup success of 1966 unless the whole system is reformed is a common belief among fellow pessimists. Now there is plenty of evidence to suggest that England will simply maintain their current level of mediocrity on the International stage for many years to come. For a start, the Under 21 European Championships in Israel in 2013 was a resounding failure, with England failing to progress from the group stage. Not just this, but the performances of the players who made the trip verged on embarrassing, scoring one goal and failing to earn a single point. Add the recent World Cup campaign (or should I say failure?) into the mix, and the future does not look particularly bright from the outside looking in.
The condensed quality of young players in the country is due to the fact that the percentage of home grown players playing regularly in the Premier League has been declining for many years. Although it is great to see world class players from all corners of the globe on our televisions week in week out, it is doing English Football no good in the long run.
The German Bundesliga made radical steps around the year 2000 to resolve a similar problem. To obtain a license to play in the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2, the German FA (DFB) made it a requirement that a club had to run an academy – known as an ‘education camp’. The leagues spend a combined €75m every year on these academies, providing a footballing education to over 5,000 players aged between 12 and 18. Players under the age of 23 now make up around 18% of all players in the Bundesliga. In 2000 when this system was introduced, only 6% of players were under 23. Maybe this would be a much more suitable proposition, as opposed to Greg Dyke’s idea of Premier League ‘B’ teams filling the lower leagues.
Despite this being England’s worst World Cup showing of all time statistically, Roy Hodgson does deserve some credit for his selection of some of the younger or more internationally inexperienced players, namely Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling. This is something which will bode well going into future tournaments, with Euro 2016 on the horizon. Following England’s exit, plans will already be in place going ahead to Euro 2016. Therefore I thought it would be interesting to predict a possible Starting XI for England going into the tournament in France.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
Joe Hart is rightly seen as one of the best Goalkeepers in Europe. After a dip in form in the middle of last season which saw him on the bench, Hart came back to his best and finished the season as a crucial member of Manchester City’s title win. Hart will be entering his prime years of his career going into Euro 2016, and will surely remain be England’s number one for many years to come.
Right Back: Jon Flanagan
Flanagan came from nowhere it seems to become a regular in Liverpool’s surge to the Premier League title that fell just short last season. His aggressive tackling and tireless work rate, as well as his versatility in being able to play both left and right back lead to calls for Roy Hodgson to pick him for Brazil. While this major tournament may have just come too soon, Flanagan could be one of the first names on the squad list for France should he maintain his late season form.
Centre Back: John Stones
When an injury to Sylvain Distin looked to put Everton’s Top 4 ambitions on hold for the season, few could have expected John Stones to step up to the mantle quite as spectacularly as he did for the Toffees. The 20 year old looked like a seasoned veteran the way he read the game at the back, not to mention his numerous attack-starting dribbles out of defence. It is rare you see a Defender with such composure and confidence on the ball as Stones has. In two years time he could well be an England regular.
Centre Back: Gary Cahill
While Gary Cahill might have had a World Cup to forget, his performances week in week out for Chelsea are as consistent as they come. For a Defender especially, his technical ability is outstanding. Cahill is another, like Stones, who is not afraid to dribble out from the back should the opportunity present itself. He can also carry an aerial threat from set pieces, and chips in with the odd goal along the way too. Cahill would bring much needed experience to the side, being aged 30 by the time the European Championships come around.
Left Back: Luke Shaw
Left Back is a position which England has had a multitude of talent over recent years, and Luke Shaw looks like continuing that trend. The 18 year old became a regular starter in Southampton‘s blossoming side under former Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino, before becoming the most expensive teenage footballer of all time. He is very much a modern day Left Back – solid defensively but blessed with great pace and loves to get forward. It will be interesting to see how Shaw adapts to being a small fish in a big pond at Manchester United next season.
Centre Midfield: Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere, the2011 PFA Young Player of the Year, has done so much already in his career, despite being slightly blighted by injury. Arsenals youngest ever league player (aged 16 years, 253 days) has now made 20 appearances for England, and comfortably over 100 appearances for Arsenal too. Praise for Wilshere (and criticism in more recent times) has come from all corners. Steven Gerrard has said that without adding pressure, he expects Jack to become one of the best players in the world. Arsene Wenger summed up Wilshere’s style, saying: “Jack has Spanish technique with an English heart.” Now 22, Wilshere will be hoping to stay injury free ahead of the new season, and prove some long standing critics wrong on the way.
Centre Midfielder: Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley is a bit of a freak in the nicest possible way. He is huge, standing at just under 6 ft 3, excellent with both feet, can see a pass – and play a pass, and possesses hulk-like strength. Barkley was expected to make his league debut in 2010, however, a collision with Andre Wisdom resulted in a compound fracture of his leg, halting his breakthrough. Upon return to team training, Tim Cahill described Barkley as the most talented footballer he had ever worked with. We were lucky enough to see glimpses of what Barkley can do in an England shirt in Brazil, but it remains to be seen whether he can now nail down a regular berth in the national team.
Centre Midfield: Jordan Henderson
Few could have predicted the fate of Jordan Henderson before the start of last season. The forgotten man’s fantastic season with Liverpool resulted in a World Cup starting spot in midfield alongside Steven Gerrard, just like at club level. Henderson will have gained some invaluable experience from one of England’s finest ever players in Gerrard, but it remains to be seen whether he can carry out the role on his own, with the England Captain’s International future still in question.
Wing: Raheem Sterling
After his real breakthrough season, few argued with Brendan Rodgers when he said Raheem Sterling is the best young player in Europe. The 19 year old was a key figure in Liverpool’s great season, and like Henderson, earned a World Cup start. Despite an England defeat, Sterling was arguably the best player on the park bar Andrea Pirlo in England’s World Cup opener against Italy. It will be interesting to see how Sterling follows up such a season – and I for one am excited to see how he fares in the Champions League too.
Wing: Theo Walcott
Despite the performances of Raheem Sterling, the forgotten man Theo Walcott was certainly a big miss for England out in Brazil. While he was criticised in the past for lacking a final ball, Walcott finished the 2012-13 season with 21 goals and 15 assists in all competitions. An injury hit following season was topped by a devastating Cruciate Ligament tear against Spurs which put him out of the World Cup. I think I speak for all fans when I say I hope to see Walcott back to full fitness sooner rather than later – and working his way back into the England frame too.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
In a season where Chelsea desperately lacked a goal scorer, ironically it was Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge who stepped up to show his old club why they made a mistake in letting him go in January 2013. 22 goals this season added to 11 the previous season means Sturridge has an outstanding record of 35 goals in 49 Liverpool appearances. Roy Hodgson made Sturridge England’s number 9 for the World Cup too, starting all three games out in Brazil, scoring one goal. Champions League football this season will give Sturridge the platform he so desires to mix it with the world’s best.
Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022
The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.
After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.
Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.
Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.
“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”
Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.
Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.
Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.
In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.
Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.
It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.
Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.
Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.
Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.
Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.
Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad
Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.
England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.
The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.
With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.
So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?
It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.
The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.
However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.
Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.
So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?
The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.
What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.
The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.
Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.
Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.
If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.
Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.
Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.
For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.
Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.
The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.
A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.
Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.
Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.
A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.
Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.
A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.
Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.
A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.
He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.
This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.
But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.
Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell
Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.
Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.
England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.
A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.
Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.
May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.
If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.
Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?
Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.
A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.
The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.
Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,
He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.
Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.
The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.
If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.
Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.
This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.
The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.
Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.
Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?
Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022
Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.
England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.
So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?
When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.
Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.
But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.
Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.
He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.
With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.
The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.
Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.
But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.
Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.
An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.
Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.