Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand and Golden-Balls himself were all part of England’s Golden Generation – a generation that quite frankly was skipped. For many years these players have been among the best in the world, rightly deserved recognition for their consistency at the top of club football. But on the International scene, things have not gone quite to script.
A lack of desire, drive and pride? I don’t buy it. Player’s don’t get to where they have without those characteristics. Player’s don’t get to the very top without the relentless ambition to be a success, and anyone involved in Sport knows that this is the case.
So what has gone wrong for a generation that was held in such high regard?
Dynamism, strength and power are words often used to describe the typical mould of an English player. Descriptions that rather harshly replace skill with natural athleticism for these players, but unfortunately this has been the reality. The typical mould of English player that football has witnessed over the last two decades has often fitted these descriptions, hence the influx of foreign players to the Premier League. Supporters can complain but with foreign players comes a style that is hard not to love. A Chopper Harris tackle will never be forgotten at Stamford Bridge, but what covers the blemishes are the quick feet and ingenuity of Eden Hazard.
Although the negatives for home-grown players of having a multicultural league are obvious – players who cope with it can only benefit from it. As England looks towards a new generation of talent, there are obvious differences with the next crop of Goldentalent, if we dare place that label on any group
Dynamism and Power cannot be taken for granted but when used without guile and creativity, its benefits become insignificant. Steven Gerrard in his prime he was the driving force behind any Liverpool success but it is not surprising he’s been less effective since his side-kick Xabi Alonso left the club.
Luckily for England, the last couple of years have suggested they are starting to produce the right
type of player, not necessary the typical English type of player but in years to come hopefully the type of player that is considered the norm. By no means are we witnessing coach loads of them, such is the case in the ranks of Barcelona, but nevertheless progression has been hinted with the rising of stars like Jack Wilshere and more recently Tom Cleverly and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
In Wilshere and Cleverly England have players who can maintain possession, who work hard off the ball not to defend but to create angles to receive. In Wilshere alone we have one of the finest players who has worn the shirt, and he is only twenty-years-old. In Oxlade-Chamberlain is a player who can combine power with decision making – a player who can beat an opponent without thinking but who can ensure possession is retained.
If we are being realistic, this period of transition will take time. For the 2014 World Cup John Terry and Ashley Cole will only be 33, and Steven Gerrard will have just turned 34 – likewise it is important, as Gerrard has said in recent days, that we don’t put to much pressure on this crop of young players, but by Euro 2016 the new group will be fully integrated.
The likes of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard may not have fulfilled their promise but as the national game and youth development strategies change, things are looking up. And with the right type of players coming through, and hopefully more in the near future, maybe we could be looking at a new ‘Golden Generation’ for the coming years. Perhaps, the real ‘Golden Generation’.
Written by Charlie Cook. See more of his work at: http://www.charliecooksfootballbook.wordpress.com / Follow him @charlie_cook09
Edited by Alfie Long of @pitchsidetalk.
Thoughts and comments welcome, all support appreciated!