So Steven Gerrard believes Raheem Sterling has what it takes to become an England regular. Is Gerrard, always one for carefully guarded, say-nothing quotes, kidding himself or is he trying to fool the public into believing that the current crop of fledgling England players – “if you’re English, you’re in” – can compete against the best in the world?
What is currently happening with the England squad is frightening. The three lions are becoming lion cubs and the England squad is starting to look like the other home nations.
Sterling is a Liverpool team-mate (well he’s not really because the youngster has scarcely seen the first team), so he has to be positive, but he’s not alone. Tottenham’s Jake Livermore and Southampton’s Adam Lallana have both been called up, giving the England squad a definite Toulon tournament look about it.
Gerrard’s comments are interesting, especially when he told a packed press conference, “if you people give him the chance”, referring to the English game of building people up and the knocking them down. The way Gerrard was talking about Sterling suggests that he was doing the building up!
Sterling has made five appearances for Liverpool and hasn’t even won an England Under-21 cap. England manager Roy Hodgson says the country’s top talent is struggling to break through – just 35% of Premier players are English, that’s an appalling statistic. He may be right, but when he was a club manager, did he care?
If you want further evidence of the decline in English football that’s only just started to take root, look at the bunch of badge-kissers that faced Moldova. Would the likes of Welbeck, Sturridge, Jagielka, Defoe, Cleverley, Milner, Baines, Walker, Carrick and Bertrand get into any other seeded nation’s squad? Unlikely. That’s half the squad.
England will qualify for World Cup 2014, but by the time they get to Rio, we might not recognize the squad. And they might not recognize each other…