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The reasons behind England’s failed youth set-up

With the World Cup rapidly approaching and England looking far from serious contenders to triumph in Brazil I want to take a look at why our country is failing to develop good enough standard of players to challenge the likes of Germany and Spain. The recently opened St Georges park center with state of the art facilities has some of the best if not the best training facilities in the world so where is it all going wrong? Is it the staff? Clubs not giving young players a chance? or is it something else? The English Premier League is undoubtedly among the best leagues in the world therefore shouldn’t England have one of the best national teams? In the premier league last season Man City, Chelsea, Swansea, Stoke and Wigan all failed to field an England U-21 International which highlights the lack of English players breaking through which is impacting on the senior England team failing in major championships. During England’s last outing against arch-rivals Scotland England started with only one player who was under the age 21 (Jack Wilshire) so is it the current England managers unwillingness to give the younger players a shot at senior level.

England’s recent failure to progress any further then the group stages in this years U-21 championships in Israel doesn’t give many people optimism for the future with England losing quite comfortably in a few games and the opposition dominating the game possession wise. England looked a lot less technically developed then most of the other Nations taking part which lead to pundits and fans alike predicting a pretty bleak future for England. There have been some suggestions that there should be a cap on the amount of non-English players in you’re team which has come in for some criticism.With opposes of that suggestion stating that if the premier league is to continue to be among the best in the world then we need the best players in the world which England are not producing at the moment,A statement I find myself agreeing with. 10 years ago there was a lot of hope for the future with a young Michael Owen bursting onto the scene however England failed to live up to the hope and expectations and are now facing the consequences.

Going back a few decades England offered some of the best players around at the time such as Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright and more recently Alan Shearer and John Barnes this proves there is talent out there to be found and with The Fa investing millions of pounds in there scouting network then it’s expected that the best talent should be found. The most important factor of a players development is playing games on a regular basis so if a player is not playing regularly for there club they can go out and get some game time on a loan to a lower league club. Jack Wilshire is the perfect example of why loaning a young player out can benefit there career. When Wilshire left Arsenal for Bolton on loan he wasn’t playing regular football at Arsenal so when he returned from a successful loan spell at Bolton he established himself as a regular for Arsenal and a short time later England. Should England do well at the world cup it would have implications on the amount of people taking part in football and the number of people playing football would increase the chances of England developing the best talent.

One of the most criticized aspects of youth football at the moment is the amount of money a 16,17 year old can earn, If you’re a 17 year old and you sign a 5 year contract worth a couple of million pounds then maybe the desire to do well has gone. Obviously this is not the case with every player however it will have an effect and can get to the head of some. If you look at some of the successful national teams at the moment they have a lot more players that are 21 or under such as Spain who have arguably the best national side and are also dominating at near enough every youth level. So will the England teams of the future be able to cope with the ability of a Spanish or German team of the future? A lot of successful national teams in the past foundations where built on developing technically immaculate young players while slowly integrating them into the team with the more established internationals. If England can find the young players to emulate this philosophy then England may well be able to achieve success in future years.

With the acclaimed St George’s park only just opening it would be unfair to judge it’s success until around 5-6 years time when we should see England’s senior and youth teams reeking the rewards of the training facilities. In theory, to challenge the “Top” national teams it’s a must we develop the best talent the country has to offer which country’s such as Holland, Germany and Spain are already doing so England will have to play catch up for a few years to get to the level of those teams. If England’s top teams such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to name a few can give a chance to some of there English players then we could see a massive improvement on England’s position in major championships. However if you take a look through the youth academy’s it becomes evident that there is a lack of English players in there ranks and this is causing a major concern among England fans with many believing that there is not enough English players in youth academy’s. The argument against that is clubs will sign the best young players and if there from Spain or Italy then so be it so if we are to see any improvement we will either have to see the loan system utilized more or  a cap on the amount of non English player a club can have.