Revisiting “The Team of the Future”

As things hot up in the race to get on the plane to Brazil next year, and fans, journalists and pundits alike get their knickers in a twist about what might happen at the World Cup, there are bound to be a few who look back, in an attempt to look forward. Over the next few months, as we get closer and closer to the big event, expect a mind numbing amount of predictions from seers, experts, octopuses and what not. But of course, not all seers, experts, and even octopuses always get their calls right, and this occasionally makes for a good laugh, all with the power of retrospect of course.

In a similar vein, we decided to have a look back, and see what the past said about the future. Have a look at The Daily Mail’s prediction for the future England National Team made back in 2007. We aren’t really big fans of the publication, like so many across the internet, which is why we take time to reflect some of their crass and reactionary stories, all with a healthy dose of schadenfreude.

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Of course, the (primary) objective of this article isn’t to sit down and laugh at a journalist doing his job. Taking a look at the team of the future, and where they finally ended up is what we’re here for. It would be fair to say that not all of them have been as wildly successful as initially predicted.

Ben Amos

Almost all of us are quite familiar with Ben Amos. The young Englishman has been at Manchester United since forever it seems, and has been a handy third choice for the champions. While his appearances for the Red Devils have been very rare, the keeper has enjoyed several loan spells, including one with Molde. Not all has been quite rosy on those loan spells too, as he was the keeper when Oldham Athletic were on the wrong end of a 6-0 score against Southampton back in January 2011, with current cream of the crop, Adam Lallana scoring a goal that went under his body.

Sam Hutchinson

This was a career that was sadly ruined by injury. Sam Hutchinson is a product of the Chelsea youth academy, and went on to make his debut with the senior team at the age of just 18. There was interest in him from a number of clubs at that point, and Ian Holloway was the most vocal of those courting him. The youngster however, chose to stay at the Bridge. In a cruel twist of events after that, he suffered a number of injuries to his knee, and eventually retired in 2010. Encouragingly, he made a comeback in 2011, even seeing some Premier League action against QPR in 2012. After staying at Forest for a while, an injury to his knee stopped him again. The player is currently on loan at Vitesse.

Micah Richards

The City man is another with tremendous potential, and one who might still just go to Brazil, in case there is a miracle. The player was a prodigious talent when he first broke through at City, and caught the eye with some excellent performances for the Citizens, including a Man of the Match performance in their victory over United in 2007-08. He even won Player of the Month in August that season, and it looked like he was on course to having a long and successful career. Even for England, the defender made his debut in 2006, becoming the youngest ever defender to earn a cap in the process. He made 11 appearances under McClaren, scoring at home against Israel. However, he lost his place in the City side to Zabaleta in 2012, and since then, he’s had very few chances, both for club and country. Hodgson chose Phil Jones over him for the right back slot for the Euros, and the defender now faces an uphill battle to get back into contention for England, especially with all the competition there.

Gavin Hoyte

Gavin is the younger brother of another former Arsenal player, Justin. There were a number of signs that led many to believe that Gavin was going to go on to make it big, like captaining the Arsenal Reserves in 2008-09, and being a part of all of England’s age level teams. He even managed a few appearances in the Gunners’ first team, and quite a few on their bench. However, a series of loan spells later, Hoyte found himself released from Arsenal. The 23 year old currently plies his trade at League 2 outfit Dagenham and Redbridge.

Robbie Threlfall

Threlfall is another whose career was interrupted, and probably ruined by injuries. The left back graduated from the Liverpool academy, making his way through all levels of that system, becoming a vital part of their youth teams. He was crucial to their success in the youth FA Cup, as they won it twice in a row, in 2006 and 2007. In the latter year, he scored a vital penalty in the second level against rivals Manchester United. At this point, big things were expected from the England U19 international. His loan spell at Hereford marked the turn-around. He missed quite a few games due to injury, and then broke his foot shortly after his comeback. Another series of loans followed, before he was released by Liverpool in 2010. Currently as Morecambe in  League 2, the left back is doing fairly well. He’s played 486 minutes this season in 7 appearances, notching up an assist in the process.

Dean Parrett

This former Spurs midfielder is one who simply faded away. He made his debut in 2009 in a UEFA Cup game against Shakhtar Donetsk. The problem for Parrett was that he just couldn’t break into the first team, being sent to a number of different clubs on loan. 5 spells in 4 years to be precise. The player was released by them this summer, and is at Stevenage, but is yet to make much of an impression.

Michael Johnson

This fall is probably the most dramatic of all on the list. Johnson was a part of academies like Leeds, Everton and Manchester City. It was at City where he broke through, starring for England’s age level teams and his club. He was marked out by almost everyone as a future England international. However, injuries again took their toll on the player. His abdominal and hernia problems were what derailed him, but there were later revelations that he had been having a long standing battle with mental illness too. After some botched attempts at a comeback, he eventually retired in 2012, asking to be  “left alone to live the rest of my life.”

James Henry

Henry is another player who has been a great talent in central midfield. Rodgers even once said that he had tried to take Henry to Chelsea while he was with the Blues. Also capable of playing on the right wing, the former Reading man had a setback early in his career with a cruciate ligament injury. However, the player has made a good comeback from injury, scoring a number of impressive goals for Milwall, good enough to secure a permanent move to the club. He has played for both Scottish and English age level teams.

Theo Walcott

Without doubt, the most successful player from the list, though it wasn’t really much of a prediction considering the fact that he had already been selected for the World Cup in 2006. The former Southampton man has been a winger at Arsenal, with his best moment coming at Zagreb, where he scored a hat-trick for the national team against Croatia. Of course, there was the disappointment of 2010, but he has come back stronger. The player had his best scoring season last year, as he secured a new contract for himself. This year, he is a key element of the Arsenal team that will be looking to challenge for honours. His game still has an element of streakiness to it, but he’s probably a good bet to go to Brazil in 2014.

Scott Sinclair

The former Chelsea player is another who hasn’t been as successful as once predicted. Branded outrageously by some as the next Thierry Henry, the Englishman had several loan spells, at lower division teams, and in the Premier League. He couldn’t however, impress sufficiently to break into the Chelsea’s team, leading to a permanent move to Swansea, under his mentor Brendan Rodgers. His most memorable moment there came in the play-offs, where he starred for the team to win them promotion. He had a great season in the top flight too, helping Swansea stay up quite easily, and fitting into Rodgers’ style seamlessly. However, another low came in the 2012-13 season, after an ill advised move to then Premier League champions Manchester City. He endured a torrid season, hardly getting to play, something that is frustrating for any player. He is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion, trying to get first team football and get his career flying again.

Jose Baxter

The striker is a former Everton player, having progressed through the Youth Academy of the club. He became the youngest player to ever play for Everton when he made his debut for the Merseyside club and also played for the England age level teams. The player couldn’t really break into the first team though. He rejected a contract in 2012 from Everton in search of first team football and got it at Oldham where he impressed. He moved to Sheffield United at the start of this season to be re-united with his former youth manager, David Weir. He’s scored 1 goal in his 6 appearances there so far.

So, the lesson to be learned from all this is that predicting the future isn’t as easy at it looks. Unless you’ve got a time machine, try not looking too far into the future. If you do feel a particularly strong pull towards clairvoyance,  then perhaps you’d be better of taking your chances with World Cup 2014 Playoffs betting. To shorten the odds try and get hold of a pet octopus and don’t read too much of the Mail!

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Vishal Patel

Editor and Co-Founder
Massive Chelsea supporter. Follow Mourinho and love Ronaldinho. Enjoy discussing tactics anytime, anywhere. Enjoy watching the Italian National team as well.
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