Regular PDP contributor and Talent ID Manager at The FA, Nick Levett, gives us his views on the cultural challenges that are intertwined in English football by examining expectation culture and reflecting on how other European nations view their own football teams.
The pattern comes around every two years for most people who follow the England national team and, of recent years, it has followed a similar theme: breeze through the qualification structures, soundly beating nations that we can soundly beat and then enter the main event. This has more recently followed a similar pattern where England have not competed to our potential in the final stages and have left the tournament to conversations of ‘what could have been’ and ‘what should have been done differently’ between disgruntled fans.
Over recent years we have entered tournaments amongst the top five or six favourites and felt that we have a decent team that can compete with the European or world’s best. However, before starting Euro 2016 it was recognised for the first time in several generations that we were not necessarily there. England had a team of ‘potential’ rather than ‘performance’ that is made up of younger players who, if they continue to grow and develop at their current rate could be excellent in two cycles of football events’ time.
If you look at the evidence of the average age of World Cup-winning teams over the last 10 tournaments they have always been around the 27 and 28 years old mark. England entered Euro 2016 with a squad that had an average age of around 22 and 23 years old, so based upon those rough averages it could be argued we were two tournaments away from having a truly competitive team.
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