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England U17s 3 Serbia U17s 0: Early goal blitz seals semi-final showdown with Dutch

10 May 2011 00:30:35

England U17s 3 Serbia U17s 0: Early goal blitz seals semi-final showdown with Dutch

ShareRural Serbia feels a long way from Mexico City, which in turns feels a long way from Bloemfontein, but a lumpy pitch half an hour from Belgrade yesterday felt like a bridge connecting three elements of England's present, immediate future and past. It felt like a step, too, another one, back to international respectability. Here at FK Indija's narrow Gradski stadium England's Under 17s played some appropriately tight football to reach the semi-final of a European competition they won last year. In Novi Sad on Thursday, England face Holland. Germany v Denmark is the other match. Double take: Hallam Hope (left) hit two as England hit three goals in the first 18 minutes to see off hosts Serbia Joyously for staff and players hugging afterwards, the 3-0 victory over Serbia ensures England's presence in Monday's draw for the world Under 17 finals in Mexico next month. It is a level of participation that England have reached only once previously at this age group. When added to the fact that England have reached the Under 21 European Championship finals in Denmark, also in June, and the Under 20 world finals in Colombia in July, there is tangible evidence that away from the sullen mess of South Africa last summer, something was stirring below. Given the way England forsook possession in places like Bloemfontein, something had to change. Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football, is one of those pushing for it and this is what he said in Indija yesterday: 'With the combination of our philosophy, the Future Game document and our dealingswith the clubs, the next few years could be our most exciting period. 'It could be a real transformation. It's the most optimistic I've been in my seven years at the FA.' That was before England were 3-0 up in 18 minutes. There was an element of luck about the opener from Liverpool's Bradley Smith but Everton's Hallam Hope then scored a fine individual effort and tucked in the third from a low cross by West Ham'sBlair Turgott. Tangible relief: Bradley Smith fired England ahead to calm the nerves As pleasing as anything was that the result did not flatter England overall. Although the timing of the goalswas a surprise, there were good performances all across a difficult pitch against a Serbia side prepared to add muscle to their technique. Notable in the build-up to Smith's opener, for example, was the passing of Everton midfielder John Lundstram and Brighton's Jake Caskey. Caskey is the son of Darren, the former Tottenham midfielder. Even though the early tempo of the game was fast, Lundstram and Caskey were prepared to be patient. They were still quick - they had to be - but they were not rushed. This was one of many promising moments, proof that after the angst of last summer's national debate andall the talking since, serious development has continued amid the hot air. There were others, from the central defensive pairing of Chelsea's Nat Chalobah, the captain, and Portsmouth's Sam Magri. Behind them Sunderland have a real prospect in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on this display, while ManchesterCity winger Alex Henshall has the zip of Adam Johnson. Their combined effort was a reaction to Friday's limp defeat by fancied Denmark. That was the Under 17s' first loss in 19 games. England's world has not suddenly been reconfigured but Brooking's optimism looked to be rooted in reality and the Jaffa Cakes and milkshakes on the way back to the hotel in Novi Sad were earned. It is all part of an experience that can only be beneficial. The team hotel is shared with the three other teams in the group, a UEFA policy. There are handshakes for everyone at breakfast, the different nationalities mingle, there has been a walk around Novi Sad, while UEFA talks on doping and match-fixing aid education. This is what a tournament is like. Red alert: The nation seethed following England's shocking display at last summer's World Cup   'We'd actually been talking for four or five years about what we can do better coaching-wise, throughout the game,' explained the Under 17 manager John Peacock. 'South Africa became a catalyst for a different level of discussion.' Like Brooking, Peacock spoke of philosophy, of 'the importance of developing thinking players'. His lastinstruction before the kick-off was 'have fire in your heart but play with your head'. England knocked out Spain to get here and he told them to remember that. Club England is the FA department charged with uniting the age groups and creating a new club culture around the national team. There will soon be an FA 25-point plan that also includes the word 'philosophy'. St George's Park, formerly known as Burton, should be up and running as the centre of the national club by next year. There is change. How England lined up Jordan Pickford (Sunderland); Jordan Cousins (Charlton), Brad Smith (Liverpool), John Lundstram (Everton), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, capt), Nick Powell (Crewe), Hallam Hope (Everton), Jake Caskey (Brighton), Sam Magri (Portsmouth), Alex Henshall (Manchester City), Blair Turgott (WestHam. Subs: Adam Morgan (Liverpool), Max Clayton (Crewe), Nathan Redmond (Birmingham). 'Youngsters are being left to make more decisions, with good coaching,' Peacock added. 'They are going to make mistakes but you have to keep going. By doing that we are not "manufacturing" players. You have to have some organisation but you mustallow for creativity. 'There is a difference between nurturing and manufacturing. There's been a subtle change. If you'd put ared and yellow shirt on England's Under 17s last year you'd have thought they were Spanish. 'They had craft, style, patience, perseverance, composure on the ball. We have got some. How many go on, we don't know, we just have to keep nurturing, we have to keep managing the "different" player carefully. We need to talk about creativity, that's a big feature. The message is that we have to develop these nuggets.' Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, added: 'Outside England this story is better known at the moment,' and the Denmark manager Thomas Frank did not contradict that. 'English teams now have a high technical skill at this age,' Frank said. 'Against us the wingers did not show it, but I've seen them against Spain and Belgium. They have it. England are going in the right direction with development. I think it is so important to have a long-term strategy for youth. We have seen that in Spain and Germany for the past 10 years.' It remains a step-by- step strategy, but at least there is one. In rural Serbia yesterday it came with a winning smile. On to Holland.  Denmark U17s 2 England U17s 0: Young Lions tamed by impressive DanesFrance U17s 2 England U17s 2: Young Lions are halted by Haller GHJGJHGJGHGHJGHJAs pleasing as anything was that the result did not flatter England overall. Although the timing of the goalswas a surprise, there were good performances all across a difficult pitch against a Serbia side prepared to add muscle to their technique. Notable in the build-up to Smith's opener, for example, was the passing of Everton midfielder John Lundstram and Brighton's Jake Caskey. Caskey is the son of Darren, the former Tottenham midfielder. Even though the early tempo of the game was fast, Lundstram and Caskey were prepared to be patient. They were still quick - they had to be - but they were not rushed. This was one of many promising moments, proof that after the angst of last summer's national debate andall the talking since, serious development has continued amid the hot air. There were others, from the central defensive pairing of Chelsea's Nat Chalobah, the captain, and Portsmouth's Sam Magri. Behind them Sunderland have a real prospect in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on this display, while ManchesterCity winger Alex Henshall has the zip of Adam Johnson. Their combined effort was a reaction to Friday's limp defeat by fancied Denmark. That was the Under 17s' first loss in 19 games. England's world has not suddenly been reconfigured but Brooking's optimism looked to be rooted in reality and the Jaffa Cakes and milkshakes on the way back to the hotel in Novi Sad were earned. It is all part of an experience that can only be beneficial. The team hotel is shared with the three other teams in the group, a UEFA policy. There are handshakes for everyone at breakfast, the different nationalities mingle, there has been a walk around Novi Sad, while UEFA talks on doping and match-fixing aid education. This is what a tournament is like. 'We'd actually been talking for four or five years about what we can do better coaching-wise, throughout the game,' explained the Under 17 manager John Peacock. 'South Africa became a catalyst for a different level of discussion.' Like Brooking, Peacock spoke of philosophy, of 'the importance of developing thinking players'. His lastinstruction before the kick-off was 'have fire in your heart but play with your head'. England knocked out Spain to get here and he told them to remember that. Club England is the FA department charged with uniting the age groups and creating a new club culture around the national team. There will soon be an FA 25-point plan that also includes the word 'philosophy'. St George's Park, formerly known as Burton, should be up and running as the centre of the national club by next year. There is change. 'Youngsters are being left to make more decisions, with good coaching,' Peacock added. 'They are going to make mistakes but you have to keep going. By doing that we are not "manufacturing" players. You have to have some organisation but you mustallow for creativity. 'There is a difference between nurturing and manufacturing. There's been a subtle change. If you'd put ared and yellow shirt on England's Under 17s last year you'd have thought they were Spanish. 'They had craft, style, patience, perseverance, composure on the ball. We have got some. How many go on, we don't know, we just have to keep nurturing, we have to keep managing the "different" player carefully. We need to talk about creativity, that's a big feature. The message is that we have to develop these nuggets.' Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, added: 'Outside England this story is better known at the moment,' and the Denmark manager Thomas Frank did not contradict that. 'English teams now have a high technical skill at this age,' Frank said. 'Against us the wingers did not show it, but I've seen them against Spain and Belgium. They have it. England are going in the right direction with development. I think it is so important to have a long-term strategy for youth. We have seen that in Spain and Germany for the past 10 years.' It remains a step-by- step strategy, but at least there is one. In rural Serbia yesterday it came with a winning smile. On to Holland.  Explore more:People: Bradley Smith, Trevor Brooking, Adam Johnson Places: Liverpool, Mexico City, Birmingham, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Belgium


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