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England’s “golden generation” is over, meet the new kids on the block

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This week the English national team jetted off to Portugal to prepare for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer.

With a new era ushered in during qualifying, there won’t be too many familiar faces on that plane to the Algarve for an intense training camp in the Iberian heat. The so called “golden generation” have finally fallen by the wayside.

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

Their chance of glory and replicating the success of Bobby Moore and co. from 1966 is gone. From 2004 when they were all in their prime, up until the 2012 Euros they managed 0 semifinal appearances and underachieved time and time again. Now talented youngsters such as Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere will take the expectations of a nation on their shoulders.

England’s Three Lions will be reminiscent of young cubs this summer.

So who were the “golden generation” that were meant to take the English national team to new heights and provide the nation which founded the game much needed success after decades in the doldrums?

Here’s a reminder of who they are and what they are doing now.

“Golden Generation”

  • Steven Gerrard – Captain of England at this World Cup but it may be his last. At the age of 33 Gerrard is no longer a marauding machine in midfield. This season he reinvented himself for Liverpool and almost helped them win the title as a holding midfielder, however his slip against Chelsea proved to be the defining moment. 109 caps leave him third all-time for England.
  • Michael Owen – Now a pundit on English TV at the age of 34, Owen’s career was curtailed by several serious injuries and he never regained the pace and predatory instincts which saw him bang in goals for Liverpool and Real Madrid in his younger years. He is still fourth in the all-time list of England’s top scorers but it is a case of “what might have been” for Owen, and England.
  • David Beckham – Retired from the game last season and now owns an MLS franchise in Miami. Beckham was one of the finest midfielders England has ever produced and he captained the side in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. His presence as a leader meant he was the figure head of this golden generation but he could never lead them past the last-eight of any major competition. Record caps holder for an outfield player with 115.
source: Reuters
John Terry’s issues off the field saw him stripped of the England captaincy.
  • Rio Ferdinand – Will leave Manchester United when his contract runs out this summer. Ferdinand, 35, was the central defensive lynchpin and forged a formidable partnership with Sol Campbell and then John Terry at the heart of England’s defense. The latter partnership turned sour when Terry was involved in an alleged racist incident with Ferdinand’s brother and his form for club and country never recovered.
  • John Terry – Still captaining Chelsea, JT had a phenomenal season in the Premier League and will be around next season after signing a new deal with the Blues. There have been calls for Terry, 33, to be called back into the England setup but Roy Hodgson has resisted. Terrific player and former skipper but problems off the pitch halted his England career far too early.
  • Frank Lampard – Along with Gerrard, Lamps will be off to Brazil as an experienced head and vice-captain. His goalscoring exploits make him a crucial player and although he doesn’t have the engine to get around the pitch anymore, Lampard’s quality is undoubted. Great servant but it’s a shame his partnership alongside Gerrard never worked out.
  • Ashley Cole – Lost his place in the current World Cup squad after being left on the sidelines at Chelsea all season and has now retired from the English national team. Cole has 107 caps to his name and is Mr. Reliable. He never let the Three Lions down.
  • Paul Scholes – Retired after the 2004 Euros and was disillusioned with life at international level after being shunted out to the left wing under Sven Goran Eriksson’s time in charge. Popped up to score crucial goals. Another who left too early.
  • Wayne Rooney – Was perhaps the last, and most important, piece of the puzzle in the “golden generation” tag. Rooney has failed to leave up to his hype at the last two World Cups and desperately needs to do something special in Brazil. Has scored 39 goals in 89 games and will likely become England’s highest-ever scorer.
  • Joe Cole – Has just left West Ham after an unsuccessful second spell and Cole’s career has really gone downhill. England’s flair player at the 2006 World Cup only just made it to the 2010 after a huge campaign from fans. Fitness and loss of form has been an issue since but on his day he can unlock most defenses with his trickery. Never lived up to the hype.
  • Gary and Phil Neville – Two no-nonsense defenders, the Neville brothers operated in the full back positions for many years. They were solid and dependable and offset the skill of Beckham, Scholes and Owen. Both were dependable, if not spectacular.
source: Getty Images
Luke Shaw, 18, is going to the World Cup with England.

That was the “golden generation” but what about the new kids on the block? Let’s take a quick look at six England players who are set to be the future for the Three Lions.

The future of England

  • Luke Shaw- The Southampton teenager has made the World Cup squad at the age of 18 and has been sensational this season. For someone so young he has an incredible maturity about him and is England’s future left back for decades to come.
  • Jack Wilshere– Arsenal’s diminutive midfielder is a magician on the ball and has the bite and tenacity to run this show in the engine room. A leader at the age of 22, expect Wilshere to take over from Gerrard when the Liverpool skipper retires from the international scene.
  • John Stones– The Everton central defender has shown great promise this season and is first reserve for the national team should Phil Jones or any other player get injured. The 19-year-old is comfortable on the ball and often dribbles out of the backline to start attacks.
  • Ross Barkley – Another Everton product, the 20-year-old midfielder is in the World Cup squad and his powerful running will frighten teams in Brazil. He has scored some stunning goals this season and if handled correctly, Barkley could be a superstar.
  • Adam Lallana– Along with Shaw and Jay Rodriguez at Southampton, Lallana is England’s most exciting attacking talent heading into the World Cup this summer. Roy Hodgson waxed lyrical about the playmakers performances in recent friendlies and his silky skills are a joy to watch.
  • Daniel Sturridge – Likely to start as the lone front man or alongside Rooney this summer, Sturridge has had a breakout season for Liverpool in the PL with 25 goals. His pace, trickery and finishing ability make will see him lead the line for many years to come.

FIFA prosecutors want life ban for Webb in bribery case

Sepp Blatter & Jeffrey Webb, FIFA
Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP, File
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ZURICH (AP) FIFA ethics prosecutors want a life ban imposed on former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in the United States.

The judging chamber of the FIFA ethics committee says it opened proceedings against Webb and will consider a verdict.

The ethics committee says it got a final investigation report last week from FIFA prosecutors.

[ PL PLAYBACK: What does Leicester’s title say for the future? ]

In November, Webb admitted to taking bribes worth millions of dollars linked to commercial rights for international soccer tournaments.

The former Cayman Islands banker should be sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn next month. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Webb was president of the CONCACAF soccer body when he was arrested on May 27 at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich.

English striker Joe Cole heading to NASL side Tampa Bay

SWINDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Joe Cole of Coventry City during the Sky Bet League One match between Swindon Town and Coventry City at The County Ground on October 24, 2015 in Swindon, England.  (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
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Joe Cole left Aston Villa for Coventry City earlier this year, and now the 56-times capped England man is coming to the North American Soccer League (NASL).

[ MORE: Chatting with NASL commish Peterson ]

Cole has two goals and six assists in 22 games for the Sky Blues since arriving this season, and the 34-year-old would be the latest World Cup veteran to head to the NASL.

The striker had 10 goals for England, and has also played for West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Lille and West Ham United.

Here’s Coventry City manager Tony Mowbray, courtesy the BBC:

“I would have liked to have kept Joe,” said City boss Tony Mowbray. “He has proved his fitness and worth to the team

“He’s a fantastic character. No airs and graces, not looking for favours or extra days off and has shown his football ability.

“He can help us control matches but he’s made his decision for his family, and we wish him well. It might happen pretty quickly if he can get international clearance.”

Tampa is 3-2-2 to start the NASL season, and boasts a roster with Darwin Espinal, Eric Avila, Georgi Hristov and Freddy Adu.

Pellegrini looks to road record before UCL second leg at the Bernabeu

during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Academy Training Ground on May 3, 2016 in Manchester, England.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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Gael Clichy says Manchester City wants to make history on the road at the Bernabeu, and his manager is hoping to rely on a shorter-term vision of the past to guide them there.

[ PL PLAYBACK: What does Leicester’s title say for the future? ]

Manuel Pellegrini and his club enter Wednesday’s match at the Bernabeu with an impressive road mark in the UEFA Champions League and the advantage of not having allowed a road goal in a 0-0 first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

From MCFC.com:

“This team in three seasons has done very well away – last season we beat Roma in Rome and Bayern away,” Manuel said.

“This season, especially in the quarters we had a very good draw against PSG and we continued. We beat Sevilla, Kyiv and Borussia Monchengladbach.”

Yaya Toure returns and has plenty of familiarity with Real Madrid, having won two La Liga titles and a Champions League title with Barcelona between 2007-10.

David Silva and Pablo Zabaleta are out for City.

Premier League Playback: What does Leicester’s title win mean for PL’s future?

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They did it. They actually did it.

Leicester City, the 5000-1 shots to win the Premier League, won the 2015-16 title on Monday and it’s been one big party in the Midlands city ever since.

[ MORE: Leicester news after PL win ] 

Following the initial euphoria questions such as “what does this mean for the future of the Premier League?” have now arisen. Was this a fluke, a one off we will never see again? Was it down to so many big boys going through transitional periods at the same time and creating a “perfect storm” for somebody else to prevail? Perhaps. But maybe, just maybe, this Cinderella story is reinforcing the growing parity levels in the PL.

Up until recently many journalists and pundits (including myself) here in England didn’t believe Leicester could get this done. The established giants getting over the line time and time again have meant that there’s hasn’t been a first-time top-flight winner since 1978 when Nottingham Forest prevailed. Logic told everyone that Leicester couldn’t do this.

[ VIDEO: Leicester players celebrate ]  

Now, though, it’s all changing. Everyone is being forced to rethink what is believable. What Leicester has done has given belief to the rest of the Premier League that they can challenge the big boys.For the time being the perennial powerhouses have lost their fear factor, that indestructible aura which held them in such good stead for so long.

It shall return, right? Hang on. What if doesn’t? Those are the kind of questions Leicester’s success has produced.

Certain bookmakers will no longer be offering odds of more than 1,000-1 for teams to win the PL title. Newly promoted Burnley were listed at 5000-1 on Monday after being promoted but now their odds have been slashed to 1000-1 and given the events of this season there will be plenty who will put a fiver on that. Why not? Lightning can struck twice…

[ MORE: Story of Leicester’s season, game-by-game ]

It has, briefly, in the past as Nottingham Forest and Derby County — ironically very similar sized cities located very close to Leicester in England’s East Midlands — both pulled off remarkable title wins in the 1970s. One manager, Brian Clough, masterminded those triumphs and even though you had giants of the game in Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal around then, this was before the days of the mega-rich clubs owned by wealthy foreign investors.

The achievements of Derby and Forest were fantastic and are widely lauded to this day, especially as Forest went on to win the European Cup, twice, during that purple patch.
Will Leicester follow suit? Can they even dare to dream of that?

Manager Claudio Ranieri has only set a top 10 target for next season and doesn’t believe his team will repeat their title win. Then again, this is the bloke who was talking about only focusing on survival when Leicester was clear at the top of the PL in January…

“We want to continue to build,” he told Sky Sports’ Rob Dorsett. “When I came here, the project was to build a very good foundation and slowly, slowly to grow up together in three to four years to fight for the Europa League and slowly come to fight for the Champions League.”

They’ve reached the UCL and won the PL in his first season in charge. The goalposts have moved considerably.

We will watch on with intrigue this summer as the big boys dust themselves off, ready their check books and aim to blast the less powerful clubs to one side once and for all. The real difference now is that even if they spend big, it won’t be easy to widen the gap once more. The PL is without financial restrictions a la the salary cap we see in American sports and even with financial fair play rules limiting the expenditure on wages, the big boys can still pretty much spend whatever they want.

[ VIDEO: Fans react in Leicester to winning the PL

The problem is, they’ve been spending money lazily and they seem to have given up on recruiting talent from lower levels and giving younger players or second chancers, a chance. Leicester, and others, have been smart in how they’ve spent their money and the Foxes’ squad cost just $79 million to assemble in transfer fees. Manchester City’s squad cost $606 million to put together in transfer fees alone. Not to mention that Leicester is in the bottom five of wages paid, their success has proven that it’s not all about money. Which is hugely refreshing with plenty of cynics out there believing only the “super clubs” can succeed.

Premier League Schedule – Week 36

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 1-0 Norwich Recap, watch here
Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Recap, watch here
Everton 2-1 B’mouth Recap, watch here
Man Utd 1-1 Leicester Recap, watch here
Newcastle 1-0 Palace Recap, watch here
Saints 4-2 Man City Recap, watch here
Stoke 1-1 S’land Recap, watch here
Swansea 3-1 Liverpool Recap, watch here
Watford 3-2 A. Villa Recap, watch here
WBA 0-3 West Ham Recap, watch here

Leicester will net a cash windfall from the PL alone of $36 million in a merit payment for winning the title. On top of the equal share of TV money, $81 million, and facility fees, $21 million, the Foxes will bring in $150 million from TV money and award fees alone this season.

Next season their revenue will continue skyrocket with UCL money, commercial revenue, sponsorship and increased TV revenue from being among Europe’s elite. In 2014-15 English clubs made $38 million each despite not advancing past the UCL’s Round of 16 and Deloitte, which ranks the top 20 richest teams in the world based on their revenue in their rich list, believes Leicester will be among their top 20 clubs next year.

The Foxes are now with the big boys, just 12 months after it seemed like they were going to be relegated from the PL. It is a remarkable story.

[ MORE: The day Leicester (pretty much) won the PL ]

This huge cash injection — as Ranieri has stated numerous time recently — means that they don’t need to sell their best players to be financially sound. The same can be said for the other small to medium teams in the PL. They can afford to pay higher wages to their players and in Leicester’s case, their owner is a Thai billionaire who can pump plenty more money in. That’s the game changer here. Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante will be chased by bigger, wealthier clubs this summer but if Leicester doesn’t want to sell, they don’t need to.

In an era where other PL clubs are only starting to begin to explore the force of their improved financial strength, Leicester rolls up and does this. They’ve made the most of a season of struggle for the big boys and given everyone else hope that maybe this season isn’t just a one off. Maybe the landscape of the Premier League really is changing.

Fans of the likes of Swansea, Southampton, Stoke, Crystal Palace, Everton and West Ham will be publicly lauding Leicester’s achievements and rightly so. Most of those teams are of a comparable size or if not bigger in terms of fanbase, resources and historical stature. But behind closed doors many fans of those teams will be saying: “damn, that could’ve been us.”

Chairmen of those clubs will be downplaying their answers when asked “well, can you ‘do a Leicester next season?'” because it would be foolish to suggest anything like this will happen again. However, don’t overlook a glint of envy in their eyes. Every PL club will now be hoping they can ‘pull off a Leicester.’

It’s not only in the PL that the rise of the underdog is being talked about. Top European teams in leagues which aren’t as competitive from top to bottom are getting worried, very worried, about the strength of the PL. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, recently shared his concern at the upcoming TV cash windfall for PL clubs for the next three-year cycle.

He believes “the Premier League could become the NBA of football” and a league where all the best players automatically flock to, leaving giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich scrambling for the rest. We are a long way off Barca and Swansea battling for the same players but it’s getting closer than you think. Take Stoke for example. Bojan? Shaqiri? Afellay? What are they doing there?

Recently I spoke with Stoke’s CEO Tony Scholes about how the PL is changing.

“What Leicester has shown this year is how great this league is,” Scholes said. “On any given day in the Premier League either team can beat the other one. Everyone knows that. That is what makes this league unique. What Leicester have done of course, people were saying that is wasn’t possible anymore, for anyone other than the big six clubs to win the league. Well Leicester have shown it is possible.

“Even West Ham this year have had a great season and might end up in a Champions League place. In many ways West Ham might be more of an indicator of what’s to come in the next few years than Leicester. Next year a few of the bigger clubs will strengthen. We know that. But there’s a great chance that one of the rest of us gets into the Champions League places.”

The signs are there that the playing field is leveling out in the PL.

You can point to Leicester’s title win being lucky or inspired by a greater power at work – many are pointing to 14 one-goal wins as proof of that — but overall it’s not hard to see that the gap between the top and bottom clubs in the PL is closing at a rate of knots

New TV deals kick in next season with domestic and international contracts bringing in roughly $13 billion between 2016-19. The gap will continue to grow smaller as the majority of that money is dished out evenly to each PL club.

That’s the most exciting thing about this. The big boys don’t just seem scared; they’re already on the hunt for who could be the next Leicester.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.