Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Out With The Old, In With The New: After disappointing World Cups, Capello and Blanc look to youth as the way forward

Only Italy could compete with England and France for the title of 'biggest disappointment of the 2010 World Cup'. Tomorrow night England and France face each other at Wembley but both with very different looking sides to those who performed so woefully back in South Africa.

Capello may have had his team dictated to him by injuries but I doubt he will begrudge that too much. It has saved him several tough decisions. With no Rooney, Lampard, Terry or Glen Johnson, Capello can experiment with other players relatively free from judgement.

Wilshere may have been deprived a first England start but Carroll and Henderson are set to do so with Gibbs getting his second cap. The new selection policy is clear - give youth a chance. I do, however, remain somewhat cynical about whether this is Capello's new initiative or one laid down to him by the FA. Nevertheless, few would argue that the likes of Carroll and Henderson don't deserve their call up after their great starts to the season.

France too have seen a radical change in personnel. Now being managed by Laurent Blanc, France welcome a host of different players into their squad as the final lingering members of the successful teams of the '98 World Cup and Euro 2000 have been replaced.

Blanc, like Capello, has made a clear indication as to his new selection policy looking forward. No player is infallible. Anyone can be dropped in favour of a player in form. Each have signalled their intent to rely on a new generation of young players as they look to create a team, as Germany have already successfully started to do over the past few years, who can challenge in Poland/Ukraine in 2012, in Brazil in 2014 and beyond.

Out of a sad personal curiosity as much as anything, I have decided to do some research of my own to substantiate this point. These are the average ages of the England and France squads at the 2010 World Cup (done on the player's ages on 1st June 2010) compared to the squads for the match tomorrow night (done on their current age):

ENGLAND:    World Cup Squad – 28.5 
                         Current Squad – 23.9   (4.6 years younger)

FRANCE: World Cup Squad – 27.5
                   Current Squad – 24.1   (3.4 years younger)

These figures highlight the changes that the two national teams have undergone over the past four months. As I say, there are senior players missing for both sides due to injury. What it does illustrate though, is a the willingness to bring in young players rather than older, more experienced players to fill the gaps.

Tomorrow night's match, even though it is an England friendly, promises to be interesting insofar as it is an opportunity to see how these two new-look sides fare in the international arena. In the words of the always eloquent Carlton Cole, "few new faces blad. alwayz gud to see".

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...

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