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Again the international merry-go-round spins and yet again England look promising in one match, only to come down to Earth with a bump the next game. England’s game against Bulgaria resulted in an emphatic 3-0 win and hopes were raised that the team had turned a corner. With a good mix of youth and experience, Rooney on fire and even some hunger from those wearing the Three Lions to go out and get the win, it looked like England finally had a formula that, even if it couldn’t win Euro 2012, could certainly make up for the terrible performance in South Africa last year.

Fast forward to tonight and yet again it’s same old England. An abject display, no fire (except from Rooney as usual and the fantastic Ashley Young), sloppy passing, frustration, dismal service to the front line and players too past it to even be in the squad. Yes England won, but it was hardly inspiring stuff.

Capello’s starting XI was not altogether awful, apart from a couple of exceptions. I can understand Capello not starting Scott Parker. He’s one yellow card away from suspension and will be crucial against Montenegro.¬†Bringing Milner in to replace Walcott was a clever change. Should Garth Bale have pulled a San Siro and started playing like a Welsh Leo Messi then Milner could assist in defense where he has proven capable.

However, where I have problems with Capello’s team is his reliance on old heads. Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry should be nowhere near that starting XI unless Jack Wilshere, Steven Gerrard, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson or even young Phil Jones had all been somehow incapacitated. At some point the younger players like Cleverley, Jones, Henderson and Huddlestone need to be blooded on the international stage and players like Lampard and Barry who have nothing to offer any more are standing in the way of that.

England should take a look at their opposition from tonight and what they’re doing to give themselves the best chance of performing on the international stage. Gary Speed has identified Welsh qualification for the World Cup as his main goal and is using the European Championship’s qualifying campaign to give his young squad the time to bond and get much needed experience. Yes they have been beaten often and yes they won’t qualify. But with all fairness to Wales, England’s young players are of a better quality so qualifying would not have been an issue.

Chances are we wouldn’t do well in Poland and Ukraine, although youth didn’t stop Germany being superb in the World Cup last year. Regardless, with that tournament experience would be a better chance of succeeding in Brazil, yet for some reason these young players are still playing second fiddle to an over the hill generation. Yes you need experienced heads in a squad, but they shouldn’t be standing in the way of those who will be there in three years time. The older players like Lampard, Barry, even Rio Ferdinand, should retire before they scupper any chance of success.


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