UEFA Under 21 Championships – We coulda been a contender!


Let’s play a game I’ve unimaginatively titled “Cut out the middle man”. It basically involves us looking ahead two weeks to the end of the UEFA European Under-21 Championships and pre-empting the upcoming inquest into the state of English international football.

The competition will obviously be won by Spain. They have the best team. I have come to recognise that more often than not when it comes to football or indeed sport in general, the best team will generally win.

Spanish football despite the recent “failure” of their club sides in the Champions League (the failure being thirty seconds and the worst offside decision in football history away from having three teams in the semi finals) will then have reasserted themselves as the continents powerhouses when it comes to the beautiful game.

England’s team will make a spirited, determined effort, scraping out of the group with an average of 36% possession before finally succumbing to a technically superior and tactically more adept rival.

That’s basically it, that’s the game. Yeah I accept it’s no KerPlunk but you can’t have everything.

I would love England to surprise me and win the tournament but sadly I don’t think that will happen.

Spain’s 23 man squad includes eight players from Real Madrid and Barcelona, as well as further four from the other two Champions League attaining sides in La Liga last season. The holders can also call upon the first team goalkeeper from the Premier League champions Manchester United.

The majority of the English team spent last season plying their trade in the Championship, with only three of the squad, Chelsea’s Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah as well as United’s recently signed Wilfried Zaha, registered with a top four Premier League team.

This could demonstrate two things; firstly as has been broached of late, we may not be producing enough top quality young players but also secondly that we don’t take this competition as seriously as some other nations.

An England team including Kyle Walker, Phil Jones, Jack Rodwell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere, all of whom are eligible, would be among the favourites to win the competition.

So can this please be remembered when the boys return home empty handed in a couple of weeks and can the latest knee jerk examination of English football not last too long.

Allen Whyte


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