Fresh faces give Mancienne hope
Jamie Bradbury in Groningen
Tuesday, 11 August, 2009
Chelsea defender Mancienne is impressed by the latest crop of Under-21s
England defender Michael Mancienne believes that the new crop of Under-21s can learn from the team's recent European Championship campaign as they begin the season with Denmark in 2011 the aim.
Mancienne was part of the England side who ended runners-up at this summer's UEFA tournament in Sweden. And after joining up with Stuart Pearce's latest squad just over 40 days after that heart-breaking night in Malmo, the Chelsea man is looking forward to another tilt at the title.
The Three Lions take on the Netherlands at Groningen's impressive Euroborg Stadium on Tuesday night in what will be their first game together with next month's first two qualifiers on the horizon.
"It’s come back around quite quickly and the holidays went pretty fast as well as I only had two weeks off," Mancienne told TheFA.com.
"For the new season we have a strong side, a lot of fresh faces in the squad and we’re looking to do well. I feel we can go all the way this time and win it.
"It’s always good to change your environment and it’s good to come away with England. It’s different from club football and it’s good to be away with boys you’re not regularly with. I’m looking forward to getting some minutes under my belt."
The 21-year-old will be one of England's experienced players during the coming qualifying period, with the memories of Sweden fresh in his mind. Mancienne played in three out of five matches, bouncing back from a tough start against Finland when he was sent off and suspended for a game.
With England leading 1-0 in their opening game, Mancienne pulled down Finnish striker Berat Sadik inside the area and was shown the red card. Captain Tim Sparv scored the spot-kick to level, but with an hour of the game to go, England fought back to get their tournament off to a winning start, helping propel them all the way to the Final.
"Obviously it was a nightmare start for me, getting sent off, but I wasn’t going to let that affect me and just wanted to come back stronger," said Mancienne.
"I had the support of everyone, the boys, the staff and my parents back home. But it happens, that’s football and you just have to keep going."
And he returned in England's third group game against Germany, which finished 1-1, but it was their next meeting with the Germans in the Final that was going to define their campaign.
Despite a good start from England, Germany took a 1-0 lead into half-time. Mancienne was then brought into the action in place on Nedum Onuoha, but a hopeful free-kick from Mesut Ozil just after the break stunned The Three Lions, who eventually went down 4-0.
"In the build up to the tournament and during the tournament we did really well, it’s just a shame we couldn’t take it further and win the Final," he said. "But I thought the boys were excellent.
"It’s always difficult coming on to try and help the boys play, especially from centre-half. From one-nil down, the game could have gone either way and had we taken the chance just before they scored their second, it could have been a different game.
"We were gutted," he added, "We’d worked so hard and got so far. To come within a final step and lose was obviously hard for all of us.
"Hopefully we can go that step further this time."
Watch the full interview in video by clicking on the icon in the top right of the screen.
To follow the Under-21s throughout the new campaign, log on to TheFA.com/England, or become a Fan of the team on Facebook.