As football fans, we've all been here before. A young British player starts performing well, and is lauded as the best thing since (insert name of famous ex-player here), before fading away into mediocrity.
Jermaine Pennant, David Bentley, Scott Sinclair, Andy Carroll, Tom Cleverley and, potentially, Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere and Andros Townsend fall into the category of players who have been hyped to the point where it's a shock to realise that they were never that good in the first place.
The English media has a habit of putting almighty expectations on the best young English players until the pressure forces them to crack. See here Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley, two immense talents who, nonetheless, are struggling to meet the standards of their breakthrough.
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And what isn't helping are headlines like these in a certain national newspaper:-
"What's wrong with Ross Barkley?"
It's baffling to see the pressure that's put on young players who haven't actually done much to prove themselves. England call-ups are tipped, big-money moves to Manchester clubs are fabricated, mega bucks are supposedly demanded and, amusingly, Real Madrid scouts are "spotted." And therein lies the problem: players like Saido Berahino get an inflated ego when they're yet to prove themselves. Bring back the days when, unless you'd performed consistently for a minimum of three seasons at club level, you were a nobody to international managers.
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Now, there's no disputing that Harry Kane deserved his England cap this week. He's had a tremendous season, scored as many Premier League goals as Diego Costa, who cost £32 million more, and generally showed everyone how good he is. He fully deserved his place in Roy Hodgson's England squad as he really has been in the top four English strikers this season. Well done Harry.
The problem is that he's only done it for a few months. Until November he was yet to start a league match for Tottenham, and is still riding on the crest of a wave that hasn't yet come crashing down to earth.
What happens when the goals stop coming? When his form fades and he goes through a rough patch, what will happen to his reputation? Headlines such as another leading sport website's "Is he the future of English football?" are all well and good now, but if he goes a spell without scoring next season he'll be labelled another flop, when in reality he needs time to get back to his best. He's a very exciting and talented player, like many before him.
But until the English stop being so demanding of their young players, and so easily excitable, the production line of English footballers is going to carry on dumping them onto the ever-growing scrapheap of broken dreams.
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