Dull, dull, dull

Why is English football so devoid of flair and creativity? It has been especially evident in their last three competitive games, but it goes back further than that.

The last time I can remember an England team playing with any real imagination was during Euro 96, when Gascoigne, McManaman, Sheringham and Shearer combined to such impressive effect, especially in the 4-1 drubbing of the Netherlands:

Even that squad wasn't consistently fabulous (e.g. the scrappy draws with Switzerland and Spain in the same tournament) but at least they entertained on a regular basis. Where is the entertainment now? Where is the skilful ball control, the ability to bamboozle opposition defenders, the verve and the nerve to take defenders on and beat them?

Certainly there are some exciting players in the Premiership, but how many of them are English? Very few indeed.

Shaun Wright-Phillips looked a great prospect at Man City, but then Chelsea snapped him up for a billion pounds and his footballing joie de vivre has vanished. Joe Cole isn't too bad and Aaron Lennon looked good in his World Cup moments this summer, but they're both injured and it seems England have no-one else to call on.

Stewart Downing has no pace or skill, so if his crossing isn't accurate he becomes baggage. Fans of their respective clubs rave about Lampard, Gerrard, Carrick and Parker, but when do you ever see them turn on the style and create a wonderful opening?

Gerrard and Lampard are capable of sudden surges up the park, but neither has set world football alight, and all the other England midfielders seem to be capable only of tackling and short passing, sometimes not even that.

As for the strikers, we know Rooney is good, but when he's off the ball who else is going to step up and take responsibility? Jermaine Defoe? Darren Bent? Andrew Johnson? Or are we simply going to resort to hoofing high balls up to Peter Crouch and hoping he can somehow manufacture a goal? We might as well just recall Emile Heskey and be done with it.

In years not too long past, dismal England performances could be explained away by blaming the manager for not selecting players with natural gifts - "If only they'd pick Le Tissier.... Why doesn't McManaman get a regular game?... They're wasting Waddle in his current position..." - but no longer.

Who's out there now? Where are the overlooked magicians? There simply aren't any. The only type of gold in this "golden" generation is fool's.