Fabio Capello - or whoever succeeds him - could take England to levels that evaded the now-faded 'Golden Generation' if only he can take advantage of Sir Alex Ferguson's forward thinking.
The most difficult job of the international manager is taking a largely disparate group of players for limited periods of time and developing a cohesive style of play and a genuine sense of team. But what if as manager you are fortunate enough to have the majority of your starting XI playing for the same club domestically - isn't an awful lot of your work already done for you? Vicente del Bosque could probably answer the question - after all, seven of his World Cup-winning line-up were from a Barcelona side that was on the way to becoming the dominant force in European club football. How much easier is his job as coach of the national team?
Largely as a result of the recruitment and youth development policies of Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello is being presented with a similar opportunity. With the Manchester United first-team squad now boasting no fewer than nine players who could represent England at senior international level, the England manager now has the good fortune of having at his disposal a quality group of players who are playing and training together day in, day out at one of the most powerful clubs in world football - and under the tutelage of one of the greatest managers ever to grace the game. The Manchester United contingent offer England quality and promise in key areas around which to build a cohesive, fluid and successful team.
Consider, for example, the following England team playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, featuring seven United players:
Hart; Smalling, Ferdinand, Jones, Cole; Cleverley, Wilshere; Gerrard, Rooney, Young; Welbeck.
Yes, there are obvious omissions from other clubs in this selection. You could easily argue that there are better players available to Capello in certain positions. But then that has far too often been a problem with England over the years - picking what are perceived to be the best players and not necessarily the best team.
Drawing on United's talent pool, England would merely have to fill in the gaps around a core of players who are training together day in, day out and playing, and learning, at the sharp end of the Premier and Champions Leagues. On this basis, surely it would make more sense to capitalise on the growing understanding between Jones, Smalling and Ferdinand at United, rather than trying to forge, even force, an understanding between other players who get to work together only infrequently? Especially when there's an alternative.
By the same token, would it not be more sensible to take advantage of the growing relationship between Rooney and Welbeck, rather than trying to pair Rooney with an assortment of other striking talent from around the country? Welbeck is but a callow youth, but his performances have brought him into the senior ranks on merit, and good as other strikers may be, none of them work with Rooney - England's most influential player - on a daily basis. The same arguments can be made in favour of Tom Cleverley and the increasingly influential Ashley Young and how they operate with those around them. United offer England the core of a very strong team and one that - Ferdinand, Carrick and Owen aside - has room to grow and develop over a long period of time.
If drawing on the talents of the mighty Barcelona has helped Spain, then capitalising on the quality and potential of the English players plying their trade at Old Trafford must surely help the England cause? Once qualification for Euro 2012 has been sealed, it's an approach that must be worth investigation in the run-up to Polkraine.