How to improve the fortunes of the England national team

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Another England team tournament exit and more disappointment follows as the England U21's went out to Italy a few months ago. After an excellent qualifying (as per usual) and the usual 'high hopes' it was quickly shattered and England fans everywhere are back our normal way of thinking when watching England...hopeless.

So why does this always happen, why is it that with a good crop of players we can't get even close to the finals of tournaments?

Well there are a number of factors and opinions that have made by numerous people and a lot of them are relatively sound, I am going to go through one or two of them.


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For a long time there has always been a club versus country battle over their players and should they go to play not only U21 games but even general friendlies for the senior team. This battle makes even more difficult for (at the moment) Gareth Southgate to prepare a team to take to the U21 tournaments.

Even if this did not occur however there is a more pressing issue with the more quality young players who breakthrough in the Premier League. There were a number of quality players that made the decision (together with their club manager) to not partake in the U21 tournament.

These included (but is not limited to injured players) Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling to name a few. Now most people will know that if these absent players were to have been in the side, it would have greatly improved their chances and Southgate would have had more options at his disposal.

But unfortunately for the former Middlesborough manager this is not the case as these players are playing for big clubs, on big wages and have tasted the England senior team limelight. So with all that in mind, why would they want to play for the U21's if they already play in the senior team?

The answer to that should be because they WANT to. The competition can only benefit them in terms of experience, not to mention getting that winning mentality that will happen when they actually win something.

Look what has happened with the Spanish and German U21 teams of the past, they were made to play in those tournaments and got that mentality which then fostered into the 1st team when they grew older.

The counter argument to this is the classic club manager saying of 'burnout'. Burnout is the default term for players who have played quite a lot of games over the course of the season, then they wouldn't really get a summer break as they are playing in an U21 tournament for England.

Even though it is ok for the players to travel to the other side of the world to play two non-starter matches against random Australian teams as part of the new 'Post Season Tour'. These new post-season tours are simply a publicity stunt for clubs to generate more revenue.

I'd like to think if I was a player and I had the choice to play an important role in an England U21 competitive tournament with the chance for silverware I would choose that over two friendlies on the other side of the world. Or like Harry Kane, do both which is commendable but as people alluded to in the post match reviews, the man looked fatigued in the U21's and who can blame him.

Are they good enough?

In any case I guess we could just ask, are the players even good enough in their own right to compete against the rest of the world in that type of tournament. With players such as Kane, Ward-Prowse, Loftus-Cheek, Stones and Berahino you would like to think so.

These are the top English young talent being hunted by top clubs in England and playing top flight football. Yet they cannot seem to do it when it counts for the Three Lions, which is sad. So if the last few years are anything to go by...then they probably are not...

So the future of the England team you ask? Your guess is as good as mine, Greg Dyke thinks we'll win the 2022 World Cup, I'm a tad more realistic and by that I mean I doubt we will even get out of the group stages. unless something significant changes with how the Premier League and The F.A. collaborate over players and managers and they begin to understand why England need their best players to go. 

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