Have Fabio Capello’s new breed usurped England’s generation of golden oldies?

In the wake of England’s disastrous exit from the World Cup, much change was promised as the country looked to claw back the dignity and respect it holds so dear.

Fans were bored to tears in the group stages and humiliated in the second round by the counter-attacking skills of Germany.

Competing for England in South Africa was a recognisable array of stars, dubbed by the popular press as England’s golden generation, but their assurance of a game is now under threat.

Fabio Capello may have looked lost at sea, caught in the midst of media storm, in the immediate fall-out from England’s exit, but his ability to recompose himself and re-asses the future of the team has been admirable.

Big promises were made that there would be sweeping reform for future England squads and he has largely kept his word by introducing new faces into the fold and given youth a chance in a squad that was growing dangerously old.

Admittedly the almost traditional 4-4-2 formation has remained as an annoying and inflexible noose around England’s neck, but change can take time, although flexibility has been the national team’s strongest suit.

Whilst victories in the qualifiers for Euro 2012 against Bulgaria and Switzerland have helped mask the shame of the summer and excellent performances from Adam Johnson and Joe Hart have hinted of a new dawn for the team, not everyone will be comforted by this.

Frank Lampard and John Terry will both be uneasy about England’s competence in their absence, as they were both ruled out of the opening qualifying fixtures, but are unsurprisingly expected to return for Chelsea on Saturday.

Their absence, along with Rio Ferdinand’s, who has been sidelined with a long term knee ligament ouch has allowed previously peripheral players an opportunity to shine.

The defensive trio of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill all performed competently in the two games in a team that had a balance and assurance about it and put the certainty of Ferdinand and Terry’s inclusion in the starting line-up under threat.

The inclusion of Theo Wlacott and Adam Johnson has allowed Steven Gerrard to shine in his central role, from which he pulled the strings against Switzerland on Tuesday and setup the second England goal with a precise through ball for Johnson, who displayed impressive confidence and a cool head to finish.

Gerrard’s delight at playing a central role was evident, having previously been banished to the left wing and his performances alongside Barry have been assured, which puts Lampard’s place under threat.

Rapidly approaching the status of golden oldies, the formerly golden generation could be witnessing the start of their gradual exclusion for the team.

King of the merks and former captain Ferdinand is now 31, Lampard is 32 and Terry is 29, but Lampard will be 34 by the end of the next tournament and the dynamism and energy he once showed will be on the wane by then.

Whilst they are far from past it, as they still perform admirably for their respective clubs, their age means that their involvement in the future of England is uncertain, as their role of carriers of the nations hopes morphs into that of wise old heads.

Their influence and experience could prove to valuable within the squad, but their guarantee of a game is no longer set in stone, whilst Ferdinand’s absence also throws into question of the captaincy, which has been admirably filled by Gerrard, as England have comfortably coped under his stewardship on the pitch.

Having rarely repeated the form internationally they showed for the clubs, the golden oldies can have no complaints about a lack of opportunities, as they now contemplate watching the next generation from the sidelines, who will be hoping to fulfil the potential that they once promised.

Tags: England, Fabio Capello

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