Hype is a wonderful thing and it is all too prevalent in football. Especially when it comes to the England national side.
Back in the early part of the 21st century, that well known postman, Adam Crozier, coined a phrase that has come back to haunt the FA on more than one occasion. Actually, it returns every two years after each major competition ends in disappointment.
Crozier said that Sven Goran Eriksson’s squad, comprising the likes of Beckham, Owen and Gerrard, had the potential to become a “golden generation” for English football.
This was latched onto by the media and the squad of players also believed it. Every time someone like Rio Ferdinand spoke to the press, he harped on about his “world class” team-mates. The message was clear – “if we keep saying it, we will be world class.” But looking at the performance of the team over 12 years and seven major tournaments, it’s easy to conclude that the self-appointed “golden generation” achieved very little .
World Cup 1998 – Second round – lost to Argentina on pens
European Championship 2000 – Group stage – eliminated
World Cup 2002 – Quarter-Finals – lost to Brazil
European Championship 2004 – Quarter-Finals – lost to Portugal on pens
World Cup 2006 – Quarter-Finals – lost to Portugal on pens
European Championship 2008 – Failed to qualify for finals
World Cup 2010 – Round Two – lost to Germany
The label was little more than”wishful thinking”. It wasn’t without talent but it was over-reliant on David Beckham, hell-bent on burning out Michael Owen and capable of losing composure on the big occasion. They were not world-class, but they were the best we had, a sad reflection on a declining game.
Now, the “golden generation” is gradually disappearing from the England squad and Roy Hodgson has to mould an inexperienced group of players who, 10 years earlier would have got anywhere near an England shirt. How long until Ferdinand starts talking about his “awesome, world-class” team-mates? Actually he won’t, because it is unlikely that he’ll be earning little velvet caps to hang on his wall by then.