For the first time in years the England team actually looked like they wanted to be playing at Wembley last night. With Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard and the rest of the so-called ‘Golden generation’ being pushed into the back-seat, it finally gave the likes of Milner, Downing and Wilshere a chance to shine.
Capello finally saw what the Germans saw a few years ago, what Arsene Wenger knows, and what the Brazilians have known since the very beginning - that young, hungry players often get better results than their more experienced, slower, wiser counterparts.
With England’s changing of the guard in mind, we take a look at some of the players who should be the fresh new faces in the Premier League next year. These are the kids who will be making or breaking your Saturday afternoons for the many years to come...
Raheem Sterling (8 December 1994, Jamaica)
Raheem Sterling burst into the nation’s consciousness when he was named in the travelling party for Liverpool’s away game against Sparta Prague in February – he would have broken all the Liverpool appearance records if he had taken any part in the match, aged just 16 years old - but scouts in and around the game have known about Raheem for many years.
He was signed up to the QPR youth academy at 7 years old, and has been winning plaudits (and matches) ever since. Whilst his transfer fee of £600,000 to Anfield just over a year ago doesn’t place him as one of the most expensive teenagers, the additional clauses (including playing for England) could net QPR as much as £5m!
Having been born in Jamaica, and moved across to London as a child, he is eligible to play for them internationally, though so far he has chosen to represent England, donning the Three Lions at U16 and U18 level. You can see from the video of his thrilling 5 goal performance in the Liverpool reserves that this kid is going to be something very special.
Josh McEachran (1 March 1993, England)
Before he was even 18 years old Josh McEachran had earned rave reviews for his performances as an attacking midfielder for Chelsea. He had also appeared in the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League! Little wonder then, that many tip Josh for the top.
His composed performance against Newcastle (see video), when he helped to get the Blues back on level terms from 3-1 down, proved that he has the class and ability to make it to the top, even when under pressure.
He has already won his first cap for the England U21s, with manager Stuart Pearce happy that he has someone in the ranks who is so comfortable on the ball, and always looking for the attacking option. 2011 looks like it will be a massive year for Josh.
Ravel Morrison (2 February 1993, England)
Club: Manchester United
For many years the tongues of Manchester hacks have had the name ‘Ravel Morrison’ on their lips, though not always for good reasons. In spite of being just over 18 years old he has already been the star of his own tabloid piece, with the Guardian calling him Manchester United’s ‘problem prodigy’.
He has had his misdemeanours (including threatening a mugging victim not to press charges) but for the most part the attention has been good - on the field, certainly, he knows how to behave himself! It is for his virtuoso dribbles that he is making a name for himself, taking it round player after player, before dinking the ball through to his team-mates to tap home.
He has scored some phenomenal goals in the United reserves and youth teams, and is already being tipped by the likes of Wes Brown and Gary Neville, who have both had the misfortune of having to try and mark him in training.
His jinks, tricks and flicks will keep the crowd entertained, whilst his confidence in his own ability should see him quickly turn into one of the world’s stars. If he keeps his attitude in check (and you’d have thought that Fergie can sort that!) this boy could go far.
Jon Toral Harper (5 February 1995, England)
Just a few weeks ago, Jon Toral Harper shot to fame, with UK tabloids publishing the rant by Barcelona President Sandro Rosell about Arsenal’s ‘immoral’ approach for their youth team player. Arsene Wenger refused to be drawn into the argument, but found it a little bewildering given that Jon was actually born and raised (for the most part) in England.
In order to have Premier League managers chasing you, you have to be a little bit special. Arsenal were just one of the clubs vying for his signature, and he will arrive in the summer for just £350,000 once the transfer gets rubber-stamped by UEFA.
What do we know about Jon? He is a midfielder in the Manu Petit mould – he can make tackles when he has to, but he is at his best when he is crafting the passes, and creating the killer throughballs for the strikers to run on to. His passing has undoubtedly been helped by the famous Masia academy in Barca.
He is tall and strong for his age, which gives him an added advantage when playing for the likes of Spain’s U16 squad, or in the youth teams. The word on the street around Arsenal’s training ground at London Colney is that he is expected to go straight into the first-team squad for next season, which surely does his move justice, given that he was about to be promoted to the Barcelona youth tem.
Wenger has a habit of polishing up rough diamonds, but this one looks like it is the finished article already. We can’t wait to see him lining up alongside Wilshere and Fabregas!
i <3 Jon Toral already!!! He is MINE!
Ave you seen the silks by Raheem in the YouTube video - unbelievable TEKKERS!
MUfan - there is a chance that Raheem will play for England, but his family claim that Jamaica comes first. Seems like we're about to lose another Ryan Giggs :/
@Fuzzy - Not quite up to scholesy's level just yet, but a good prospect.
Its one of the problems for all United players coming through - they are always 'the next' Keane / Scholes / Giggs, etc, so everyone expects the finished article a lot sooner - it just adds to the pressure of playing for the Worlds Greatest Team.
Good luck to all four - especially if they all play for England.
Ravel Morrison looks awesome! The next Scholes?