England have Louis van Gaal and Mauricio Pochettino to thank for bright future

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When Fabio Capello's England rocked up in Rustenburg for the 2010 World Cup, it was hard to get excited about the talents we were about to showcase to the world. Ok, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Wayne Rooney were all world class. While Michael Carrick was the handyman, who did his job admirably, without much appreciation from the England faithful. Aaron Lennon and Jermaine Defoe, too, were a thrill to watch on their day.

Things did improve at Euro 2012 mind, with talented youngster, Danny Welbeck, replacing the veteran, Emile Heskey, from the previous tournament squad. While talented winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ashley Young and aerial threat, Andy Carroll, were also introduced. But the lack of youth was frightening. In fact, for England, it looked as though the pool of talent would dip so low that more Emile Heskeys - ageing and past it players - would be gracing the international stage for the Three Lions.

But thankfully for England, while Manchester United fans may not appreciate this, the Red Devils appointed Louis van Gaal - a man who has given no less than eight English academy graduates their debut, during his two years at Old Trafford.


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Marcus Rashford is the poster boy for Van Gaal's success with youth at United, scoring twice on his Europa League debut, a double on his Premier League debut, and one in his first Manchester derby.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham is to England, what Barcelona are to Spain. Quite a compliment indeed, but thoroughly deserved. The Catalans are the basis of Vincente del Bosque's Spain squad, and that looks like the future for England, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli complimenting each other nicely in their attacking roles, since the latter's arrival from MK Dons in the summer.

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose occupy the full-back positions, like they potentially could at the Euros for England in France this summer, along with Eric Dier, who has been impressive since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon. And Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker-Peters, Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll all make up the foundations of a strong English core - and Cameron Carter-Vickers also qualifies for England, born in Southend, but is currently representing the United States Under-23s.

Spurs giving English players their chance is, with great respect, down to Pochettino believing in the players he had at his disposal and willing to take a risk, even though the results could be potentially threatening to his job. The rest is history - Tottenham now chasing their first league title since 1961.

For the likes of Kane, Alli, Walker, Rose, Dier to all have regular game time together at White Hart Lane is a massive favour for England boss Roy Hodgson. To have a core group that know each other well, and play together on a regular basis has already put a large part of the boss' puzzle together.

And it's also important not to forget the work that Southampton do at their academy, consistently churning out quality talent ready for the first team, and more importantly, giving them their opportunities at the highest level of the game.

In England, we are aware of the pressures on managers and the impact of the Premier League's popularity meaning footballers from around the world want to come here - forcing young players further down the pecking order. But Van Gaal and Pochettino deserve credit for their stubbornness. A desire to achieve success through the development of the talent within the club, rather than spending millions of pounds on some ready made foreign talent.

Of course, these two aren't the exceptions, Arsene Wenger does it from time to time at Arsenal, Roberto Martinez too, at Everton, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, and more so now, with Manchester City and their £200 million academy complex. But Van Gaal and Pochettino have done it with proven success and on a regular basis.

For so long, the future has looked bleak for England. There was no sign where are next young gem was going to come from. And now there is an influx of young talent proving they can do it at the highest level. Now the question is, can they sustain it? That is the next hurdle for these young players to jump.

What we are learning now is that, perhaps it wasn't a case of the talent not being there? It was, in fact, these players were not being afforded the opportunities to learn and develop. What could have been for the likes of Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Tom Ince (Liverpool), Jack Rodwell (Manchester City) and Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), had they been handed regular first-team opportunities with their respective Premier League sides?

Tottenham fans speak fondly of Carter-Vickers. Let's hope that he can be tempted to switch allegiance to his country of birth, England. And Jon Flanagan's new three-year deal at Liverpool means another - relatively - young English player's future is secured at a top English club.

Although there are great strides needing to be made in coaching, and the development of grass roots facilities, the fact remains that the raw English talent is there, it just needs the opportunities to flourish.

And as England head to France this summer, we can only hope that Roy, too, holds a belief in some of the young English talent that has graced the Premier League in the last couple of seasons, since the Three Lions' disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil. It is an exciting time to be an English football fan. And let's hope they all fulfil their potential.

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Manchester United
Nathaniel Chalobah
Ryan Mason
Mauricio Pochettino
England Football
Jack Rodwell
Louis van Gaal
Josh McEachran
Danny Rose
Kyle Walker
Tottenham Hotspur

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