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Golden generation gets one last chance


By Guest Writer Tom Niblett.

When Portuguese winker Cristano Ronaldo sent Paul Robinson the wrong way and England out of the 2006 World Cup you could have been forgiven for predicting the end of England’s so called “golden generation”. The tears that flooded out that afternoon in Germany were not just about defeat, but about the end of a dream for the most talented English footballers of the last thirty years.

Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard and Terry would all be over 30 next time out; yesterdays men, destined to be replaced by the new exciting conveyor belt of talent waiting in the wings. So now four years on and its time for our new generation to take to the world stage, right?

Well not exactly. Take one glance through Capello’s twenty three and the usual suspects all remain. Sure some faces have changed, but the core of the squad, and England’s hopes rest on tried and tested shoulders. Other then the emergence of Glenn Johnson and the total disappearance of Paul Robinson as an International goalkeeper and England could almost name an identical eleven to that which ended in Baden Baden 06’. Still no naturally left sided winger, still no natural partner for Rooney, and still the problem of a centre midfield with Lampard and Gerrard.

If Capello’s squad choice tells us anything about the man, it’s his value of experience.  The Italians original party of thirty had left him real options. The enigmatic Walcott, the trickery (and left-footed-ness) of young Adam Johnson and the sheer passing range of Huddlestone seemed to suggest a different flavour, a team of wingers and creative players capable of playing wide-open expansive football. The final twenty-three suggests a somewhat different outlook.

Now this is not criticism of Capello, after all what real choices did he have? Since Sven departed in 2006 exactly who has emerged to forge the next generation? We’ve had the bullish brute strength of Micah Richards, the speed of Agbonlahor and even the sight of Nicky Shorey receiving a cap. And where did that get us? Watching Euro 2008 from home, that’s where! It seems that Capello is more than aware that our strengths are in our past, not our future.

So for one last time the nation calls on the old guard. One final chance to justify the “golden generation” tag. The opportunity to prove once and for all we were right to laud them so highly…good luck!

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