Almost a year ago, England were eliminated from the World Cup in a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Germany. As the predictable dissection of the national side’s latest failure began, many focused on the lack of developing talent in the make-up of the senior side, particularly in comparison to England’s conquerors, an impressive German side, who have brought about the emergence of talents such as Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira; both of whom joined Real Madrid shortly after the tournament.
Both players had featured heavily in the previous summer’s European Under 21 Championship triumph, along with Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, whose progress has seen him linked with summer moves to Manchester United and Bayern Munich. The success of young players at a time when the senior setup was in need of new blood allowed Joachim Low to build a side around his young players, growing together and gaining experience both individually, and as a unit.
The eventual winners of the World Cup, Spain, also fielded a side with an air of familiarity. The starting line-up for the final against Holland, featured six Barcelona players, including an attacking midfield trio of Barca stalwarts Xavi and Andreas Iniesta and young winger, Pedro, supported by Barcelona midfield anchor Sergio Busquets. While the Barcelona quartet’s individual experience at the highest level may vary, their recent experience of playing together for both club and country proved vital, as Spain’s attacking play saw them storm into the final, with a final goal from Iniesta securing Spain’s first ever World Cup victory.
In the aftermath of England’s most recent international failure, pressure built for the FA and the England setup to introduce a new era, to introduce promising young players to replace older internationals, who have failed to secure international honours in their various attempts, some of whom, for up to a decade. As England’s best players struggle to gel as a team, with many arguing numerous players fail to reproduce their club form on the international stage, the Under 21 side allows Stuart Pearce to build a team, potentially in the mould of a future-England senior side.
With Pearce touted as a future England head coach himself, allowing him to take a true selection of England’s finest young talent to this summer’s tournament in Denmark could prove vital to the building of the next generation of senior squad led in particular by Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll. As Pearce’s men gain vital experience of international tournaments, improving as international players and developing as a collective unit, the inclusion of players such as Wilshere and Carroll could prove pivotal to England’s future.