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Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 10:39 UK

World Cup 2010: England talent worries me - Wilkinson

Downcast England players

Highlights - Germany 4-1 England

Former Football Association technical director Howard Wilkinson fears England's fortunes could get worse following their dismal World Cup exit.

Wilkinson had thought that the current crop of England players should have been genuine title contenders during the finals in South Africa.

But they were humiliated 4-1 by Germany in the last 16 on Sunday.

"I don't see us bringing together players of this quality in the same numbers," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"Undoubtedly, the pool of players from whom we will be choosing in four years will be smaller than the pool now, and that will continue."

He added: "We genuinely identified this group between 1998 and 2000 as the group that could go on to achieve success in 2006 - maybe semi-finals - and be serious contenders in 2010."

Wilkinson was the FA's technical director from 1997 to 2002, so was responsible for targeting and nurturing the country's talented youngsters.

PHIL McNULTY'S BLOG

But his fears were recently tempered by the FA's director of development Sir Trevor Brooking, who pointed to the recent success of England's Under-17s who won the European Championship in May.

That triumph was England's first age-group title since 1993 and Brooking, who has also championed the deployment of skills coaches for 5 to 11 year olds, said the team were "the best group we've had in six or seven years".

During Wilkinson's spell in charge, he produced his Charter for Quality, which was designed to provide a structure for the development of young players at club academies that would go on and compete for England.

Key to the Charter for Quality was the idea that player development would focus on technique rather than results, with youngsters trained by gifted coaches.

But Wilkinson believes the powerful influence of the Premier League coupled with infighting at the FA diluted his blueprint's effectiveness - and meant that England failed to make the most of the so-called "golden generation".

"The Charter was chipped away at, eroded through politics, through change," commented Wilkinson, who was not replaced when he left his FA post eight years ago.

Wilkinson, who is now chairman of the League Managers' Association, also blames a lack of stability at the top of the FA for the failure to bring more youngsters through in greater numbers.

QUALIFIED COACHES IN ENGLAND
FA Level Five (Uefa Pro): 115
FA Level Four (Uefa A): 895
FA Level Three (Uefa B): 1759
FA Level Two: 6,957
FA Level One: 26,273

"The FA's record for chief executives is as bad as football's record for managers," continued Wilkinson, who took caretaker charge of England for a 2-0 defeat by France in February 1999 and again in October 2000 for a World Cup qualifier against Finland.

The delay in building the National Football Centre at Burton, which was first put forward in February 2001 and has still to be built, is also a factor, added Wilkinson.

Burton, which will cost £100m and cover a 330-acre site in east Staffordshire, is intended to provide world-class coaching and training facilities for England teams but is not due to open until mid-2012.

But it is the diminishing talent pool of young English players to succeed the likes of John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard that has been concerning Wilkinson most.

"My fear is that we had genuinely identified a group of players in 1998 and 2000 that could go on and achieve success in 2006 by reaching the semi-finals and be serious final contenders in 2010," he stated.

"Undoubtedly, as we progress through the years, the pool of players we will be choosing in four years' time will be smaller."

Wilkinson, who is the last English manager to have won the league title with a top-flight club after guiding Leeds to success in 1992, also revealed that, while his plans became bogged down in FA bureaucracy, others were only too happy to embrace them.

Chief among them were Sir Clive Woodward, who went on to guide England to success at the rugby union World Cup in 2003, and, ironically, the Germany Football Association.

"Clive Woodward came to see me and used some of the thinking for international success with regard to how he took on managing England in the World Cup in 2003," said Wilkinson.

Parts of what we were doing gave the Germans a germ of a thought that they needed to be more proactive about the development of young players

Howard Wilkinson

"Parts of what we were doing gave the Germans a germ of a thought that they needed to be more proactive about the development of young players."

England have been urged to look to the next generation of players as they attempt to recover from their premature exit in South Africa.

But former England manager Terry Venables has cautioned against dumping experienced players like Terry, Lampard and Gerrard.

"Why would you do that?" said Venables, who guided England to the semi-finals at Euro 96. "I think young people going into international sides need the experience around them."

While fans debate England's poor showing in South Africa and the FA considers Fabio Capello's future as England manager, MPs are demanding major changes in the way in which football is run in this country.

The Conservative David Amess has called for "an urgent inquiry into the state of our national game" following the 4-1 mauling by Germany, England's heaviest defeat at a World Cup.

He has tabled a Commons motion, branding the defeat as "pathetic" and describing many Premier League players as "grossly overpaid and under-performing".

Fellow Tory MP Robert Halfon has called on the FA board to resign immediately and has accused the last three managers of the national team - Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Capello - of producing "nothing but failure" after being given "hugely expensive contracts with little result".

Halfon said it was "amazing" that Capello's contract was renewed before the World Cup and claimed England have punched "well below their weight for years" because of "ineffective management".

In his motion, Halfon has called for a "footballing revolution" at the FA, with fans "having more input in decision making".

Bobby Moore lifts the Jules Rimet trophy

1966 - England win World Cup



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see also
FA waits to make Capello decision
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Pressure on FA after England exit
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England were not prepared - Lahm
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
England Under-17s win Euro title
31 May 10 |  Football
Burton receives council go-ahead
17 May 10 |  Football


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