It’s hard to think of a time that England have been so excited about their young talents coming through, yet it’s also hard to think of a time that those very wunderkinds have been less successful than they are now.
It’s almost as if you shouldn’t leave the futures of the most exciting generation in years in the hands of Aidy Boothroyd, the man who was sacked by Northampton Town in his last job after failing to come up with a tactic other than hit it long to Adebayo Akinfenwa. For crying out loud, his nickname was ‘Hoofroyd’!
It’s a marriage made in absolute hell, and you only have to look at the atrocious results at tournaments for the evidence. They picked up just one point in the group stage of the 2019 Euros and will be lucky to get the chance to better that this year.
Something needs to change, and with Boothroyd’s contract set to expire this summer, it’s the perfect time to politely thank him for his services and move in a new direction.
There are so many options who would fit better than Boothroyd, so let’s take a look at some of them.
Brought into the Chelsea academy coaching staff as part of Roman Abramovich’s reshuffle in 2004, Edwards is now among the most respected coaches at that level.
He’s a multi-FA Youth Cup winner, leading a Chelsea side widely seen to be one of the finest academy teams in recent memory, and he even has experience with England after helping the Under-18s win the Toulon Tournament in 2017.
With a desire to play attractive football, Edwards has been hugely influential to the Blues’ recent love of academy graduates. He knows his stuff.
While Wellens’ time with Salford City didn’t exactly go to plan, cast your mind back a little further and you’ll see him in charge of a thoroughly entertaining Swindon side.
Favouring a possession-heavy style of play, Wellens turned Swindon into League Two champions before being poached by Salford, where it was rumoured that his love for attacking football actually became a problem.
He loves high-tempo, silky football, making him the kind of manager this England side are crying out for.
Hyper-focused on helping young players reach their potential, Wood has proved to be a popular figure at Manchester United because of his determination to keep the next generation coming through.
His United Under-23s are one of the most exciting teams at academy level, and while having big names like Hannibal Mejbri and Amad Diallo definitely help that, Boothroyd has shown us that talent means nothing unless you’ve got someone capable of putting the pieces together.
Wood is credited as one of the more influential figures in United’s academy rebuild, and England should be all over that.
While Wood has been at the helm of United’s Under-23s and the face of all the recent success, Butt was the mastermind behind the whole operation.
The head of first-team development up until recently, Butt was a leading influence in changing absolutely everything about United’s setup, spending his time improving the pathway from youth football to the senior side. He understands that better than most.
From a coaching point of view, Butt doesn’t have too much to offer. He has coached the reserve team and spent time as an assistant to interim boss Ryan Giggs, but he deserves the chance to add more.
Cooper’s pedigree at youth level is already well known. His Under-17 side reached the final of the 2017 European Championship and won the World Cup a few months later.
A lot of the players in that side are those struggling for an identity in the current Under-21 setup, and there is seemingly nobody who knows how to get the best out of them more than Cooper.
Now leading Swansea, there’s a reason Premier League teams regularly turn to Cooper when they’re looking to loan out their top talents. Marc Guehi, Rhian Brewster, Freddie Woodman and Conor Gallagher are four of many to have benefited from Cooper’s tutelage.
Simpson would likely have been the first man in line to replace Boothroyd had he not left his position as England Under-20 boss last summer.
In the same year as Cooper’s Under-17 triumph, Simpson was lifting the Under-20 World Cup with his England side – the crowning achievement of one of the most dominant summers of international youth football in history.
He understood what it took to be successful with England, and the Under-21s need someone like that now.
A popular figure among Nottingham Forest fans, Cohen was in charge of an exciting Under-23 side before leaving to join the coaching setup at Luton Town last summer.
He’s a young coach, having only retired in 2018, but he’s learning the ropes quickly, which explains why he was brought over to Luton. The Hatters pride themselves on youth development, and they could tell very quickly that Cohen could help them on that journey.
Given his lack of experience, he’s a bit more of a risky candidate, but let’s not pretend as though he could do any worse than Boothroyd.
After joining the Leeds setup in 2015, Jackson has risen through the ranks at Elland Road and is now impressing in charge of the Under-23s.
On his resume is a league title with Leeds’ Under-18s, and he’s about to lift the Premier League 2 Division Two title in emphatic fashion, building a side who are flying at both ends of the field.
Jackson has been getting the best out of his players and has turned them into winners. That’s all England have ever wanted.
Morris was part of the Chelsea academy when the young Blues won two UEFA Youth Leagues and four FA Youth Cups, and when he took the reins himself in 2017/18, he added another Youth Cup and a Premier League title.
After impressing at academy level, Morris has followed Frank Lampard around at both Derby County and Chelsea, so he has plenty of high-level experience.
He’s looking for a new job, and England should be looking for a new coach. Need I say more?