SWANNY'S WORLD OF SPORT: A golden generation? I doubt it

Wasn't it great to see England's footballers win the Under 20 World Cup?

Friday, 16th June 2017, 9:12 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
England Under 20s celebrate their World Cup success.

And isn’t it a shame that for the vast majority of the squad beating Venezuela 1-0 in a final in South Korea will prove to be the highlight of their careers?

Age group football should never be treated as an indicator of future success (Germany’s 2009 Euros Under 21s success aside), and certainly not in England where opportunities for younger players to play regular competitive football will always be restricted by Premier League clubs’ preference for foreign nonentities.

The rush to describe this batch of largely unknown players as a ‘golden generation’ is rather disturbing.

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England's Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates after scoring the only goal in the World Under 20 Cup Final.

Everton’s representatives in the squad still have a chance as Toffees’ manager Ronald Koeman has a pleasing habit of giving kids a chance, but the Chelsea World Cup winners? They’ll be on loan to Yeovil or a Belgian Division Two side before the start of next season.

To be honest I didn’t even know there was an under 20 World Cup competition, and I don’t understand its purpose, unless it’s to justify jobs for the likes of Dan Ashworth and his FA cronies.

The Checkatrade Trophy would provide a more meaningful education for young footballers than games against Mexico in stifling Asian heat.

The World Cup win did at least prove useful by deflecting some attention away from a dismal senior England display in Scotland, when Gareth Southgate’s side were one goalkeeping error away from a most embarrassing defeat.

England's Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates after scoring the only goal in the World Under 20 Cup Final.

A poor performance followed by a worryingly inept one against 10-man France.

I still don’t understand how easily the normally-rabid English press accepted Southgate as the national manager and I suspect there are a few top writers re-assessing their opinions right now.

Selecting the likes of Jake Livermore will tend to do that to a manager, one who tried to protect his reputation by praising his team’s ‘character’ after Harry Kane’s late rescue act. As if character alone will ever get you past a big quarter-final.

There is nothing on Southgate’s CV to suggest he would succeed as a Championship manager, never mind an international one. His one understandable action so far has been to force Wayne Rooney’s England retirement.

The fact Southgate delivers a good press conference and seems like a nice guy is irrelevant to me. I can’t stand Jose Mourinho, but I’d rather have a proven winner in charge of my national team than a decent bloke capable of delivering friendly press conferences.

Of course England will qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, but they would if me or Barry Fry was in charge, but unless Joe Hart’s weak and wobbly form is addressed qualification from a group will be as good as it gets.

Watching centre-backs Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling become unsettled by a player as ordinary as Chris Martin in the Scotland game was as worrying as watching them get torn apart by France’s youthful strike force.