A completely new topic today: womens’ football, which I’ve been following for a while.
It occurs to me that this semi-final run in the WWC2015 is going to pay dividends for years to come: at worst, England is going to move up to #5 in the world rankings, and the #3 ranked team in Europe.
That means that at Netherlands Euro 2017, England should be a group seed, along with Netherlands, Germany and France (it’s a 4-group, 16-team tournament). That in turn means that we should face a group runner-up in the QFs, meaning that with a bit of luck we should wind up in the semis for that too (Hope Powell-style self-destruction aside).
In France in 2019 if we maintain our position we should again get seeded, because France are the hosts and it’s an 8-group tournament, and there will be at least 3 European seeds.
And all of that is a good thing, because by 2019, Fara Williams probably won’t be playing. Jill Scott, Aluko, Jodie Taylor, Alex Scott will all have aged out of the squad. Houghton, Bassett and Carney will all be 30.
So Mark Sampson’s challenge for the next 4 years must be to develop the next generation of talent such that the 19- and 21-year-olds playing today can start to fill those skills gaps.
Jess Clarke and Fran Kirby must surely play their parts in Euro qualifying. The FA needs to spread some of those central contracts around to younger, good-looking players to allow them to develop in time for the next tournament. Who looks like a great player for the next generation in your team?