The success of England’s youth teams is leaving them totally unprepared for the realities of major tournaments, according to concerned coaches.
England U-17s last night reached the World Cup final with a 3-1 win against Brazil having earlier this year finished as runners-up in the European Championships.
England U-19s and U-20s have also won this year’s European Championships and World Cup respectively, while England U-21s reached the semi-finals of the Euros.
But according to backroom staff from various levels of English football, these triumphs present dangerously misleading experiences for the youngsters.
In a joint statement, the coaches said: “It’s all very well going out there without millions of people watching and playing like footballing nonpareils.
“But we’re concerned that our young footballers will be completely unprepared for the genuine top-level experience of totally freezing up and losing to some minnows or other.
“Our U-21s got closest to the mark by losing to Germany on penalties, so with any luck they’ll be suitably scarred to deliver diminishing returns as they get older.
“But all this winning from the younger lot just has a distinctly un-English feel to it.
“We appeal to the head coaches of England’s youth teams to do everything they can to knock the confidence out of these kids before it’s too late.
“We recommend a steady diet of press intrusion and undue criticism.”