As England prepare to face Brazil at Wembley tonight, the perennial questions persist of just how good this current crop of players is.
Brazil have had their own issues in recent years, and tonight’s game will see old heads Ronaldinho and ‘Big Phil’ Scolari return to the South Americans’ fold. But no matter what issues Brazil face, they always seem able to compete when it matters.
For England however, this is not the case. As the golden generation of Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand, et al breathes its last, and with nothing tangible to show for it, Roy Hodgson must surely be asking himself if he can ever assemble a group of players with as much talent. While messrs Wilshere, Cleverley and Welbeck have become integral parts of the England set up and are all still under the age of 24, there is still real questions over the depth of quality available to Hodgson.
Brazil Striker Neymar was quoted this week as saying that England are far too reliant on Wayne Rooney. And I’m inclined to agree with him. While there are some players of real quality and experience still pulling on the three lions for England, only Rooney –when he wants to- can provide that game changing spark.
The key to changing this for England, is improving the development of youth. The new St George’s park development, opened last year, is a massive step in the right direction for developing the next crop of international stars, but the real benefit of this will not be felt for some years. Certainly not until after Hodgson has hung up his chalk board and cones.
England’s performances are ever improving and they may even get something out of the game tonight, but don’t expect trophies for a good few years yet.