Premier League

Why did England’s Golden Generation fail?

Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Owen Hargreaves, Peter Crouch, Steven Gerrard, Gary Neville

Few countries have been able to enjoy the sort of individual quality boasted by England during the 2000s.

The Three Lions squad was routinely stacked with global superstars but never came remotely close to living up to the expectations placed on them, with a failure to qualify for Euro 2008 bringing the excitement to an abrupt end.

Here’s a look back at what went wrong for England’s famous Golden Generation.

Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Owen Hargreaves, Peter Crouch, Steven Gerrard, Gary Neville

England’s squad was full of domestic rivals / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

While everyone in the England dressing room wanted to steer the Three Lions to victory, most of the big names found it impossible to distance themselves from their club allegiances.

Manchester United players couldn’t co-exist with Liverpool stars. Representatives from Chelsea and Arsenal were divided by a grudge so strong that it could not be repaired during short international camps.

Many have spoken openly about this issue, including former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand.

“It killed that England team, that generation,” he told The Times.

“One year we would have been fighting Liverpool to win the league, another year it would be Chelsea. So I was never going to walk into the England dressing room and open up to Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry or Joe Cole at Chelsea, or Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher at Liverpool because of the fear they would take something back to their club and use it against us.

“I didn’t realise that what I was doing was hurting England at the time. I was so engrossed, so obsessed with winning with Man Utd – nothing else mattered.”

Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello failed to manage the egos / JAVIER SORIANO/GettyImages

It has been suggested that England’s Golden Generation was perhaps too strong for its own good.

The likes of Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand, Gerrard, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney – these are all undisputed superstars of the game. Regardless of which club you prefer, there’s no denying the individual talent on offer in this squad.

However, that ended up contributing to their downfall. Not only were these players too used to being the focal points of their respective clubs’ success, but they ended up becoming so big that no manager had the courage to make the tough call of dropping one or two.

Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello all took different approaches to managing that overflow of talent. Some cowered in fear of controversy, while others tried to lay down the law and challenge England’s stars, but neither approach went…

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