The opening of the St Georges Park National Football Centre is supposed to be a historic day for English football.
The site at Burton-upon-Trent has for years been flagged as the saving grace for our currently inferior youth system and while having all the national teams training under one roof can only be a positive, the idea that this alone will create a school of potential World Champions in eight years borders on ludicrous, perhaps even delusional.
Maybe I am a killjoy, pessimist or maybe a realist but the fact remains that if these players do not develop into the first team squad at Premier League football teams they will simply not be good enough.
Not only this but a massive difference is which teams exactly these players come through with, as the development of the young players lies mainly at the door of the club they are with.
Every club has differing philosophies on what their football development means to them. This doesn’t just mean footballing philosophy such as the way in which they are trained to play on the pitch but the tactical financial philosophy.
Some need results to gain funding, so technical development is not necessarily the height of their agenda. Others want to sell their players on to bigger clubs while others develop to retain and develop an excellent first-team.
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Sergio Ramos (Sevilla)
Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)
Xabi Alonso (Real Soceidad)
David Silva (Valencia)
That is the Spanish side that started the Euro 2012 final win over Italy. Only three of the starting 11 did not originally start their career’s plying their trades at Real Madrid or Barcelona. Of those three Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos have gone on to play for Real leaving just David Silva as the odd-one-out of the bunch.
The team England put out to face Italy in their drab exit however looked like this…
Joe Hart (Shrewsbury)
Glen Johnson (West Ham)
John Terry (West Ham/Chelsea)
Joleon Lescott (Wolves)
Ashley Cole (Arsenal)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Scott Parker (Charlton Athletic)
James Milner (Aston Villa)
Wayne Rooney (Everton)
Ashley Young (Watford)
Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
The bench was a similar miss-mash of clubs ranging from Southampton, Wigan, Norwich, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Blackburn.
While the centre will create the opportunity to bring these players all together the fact remains that at club level, which dictates the future of these players, they all represent different football philosophies growing up. While it is a testament to the scouting system of ‘lesser’ clubs that they continually out-do their ‘superior’ rivals the other system seems to work for Spain.
So does this large spread of club level British talent have a derogatory effect on the national team? And will the centre help counter-act this issue?