Thursday, 18 November 2010
The England Team and How to Fix It
It was not my intention to write two articles so close together when I came up with the idea of this blog but I just cannot resist it after watching another dismal display from England last night.
Since the disappointment of South Africa all of us as fans have been crying out for change but it is clear that this change has not come. Capello told us that he would, Team England said that they would and the players also claimed that they would change but the phrase “don’t p*ss in my pocket and tell me its raining” comes to mind. From where I was sitting last night (on my sofa admittedly) I can see no change whatsoever from the summer apart from those forced through injury. I have not been buying the smugness from Fabio that he is giving youth a chance as I am sure had everyone been fit Henderson, Carroll and Gibbs would have been left on the sidelines to watch the same old guard fail in the same old way and everyone having the same old moans. Same old England I hear you cry!!.
There are some serious problems from top to bottom in the English setup and this can be seen by everyone except the people who can actually make the difference here. The England team’s future is not dead, far from it. I don’t buy into the usual clichés about too many foreign players not giving English youth a chance or too many kids playing Playstation instead of kicking balls around the park until Mum calls them in for tea. The fact is that kids play football and will always play football, the past was not a utopia filled with kids just playing football, there has always been distractions from the model train set to the space hopper so nothing has changed in that respect. I also firmly believe that all the foreign influence has done is raised the bar so only the elite make the grade which has raised the standard of the England team. During the 80’s and 90’s it wasn’t always a certainty that we would qualify for major tournaments and now it’s a disgrace to not make it. Also for anyone who follows our under 21 team will know that they have been making regular progress to the latter stages of International tournaments, so they cant be that bad can they. So if we can’t point the finger at these then where can we point it. There are 4 large changes that need to be made to the current setup in order to produce long term success.
NUMBER 1 – The FA Board
Why is that we have businessmen running football at the top level, surely more football men should be in the senior position and the businessmen should be left in the finance department. It is no coincidence that in England we have one of the most marketable and profitable leagues in the world. Contrary to popular belief having the most famous league in world doesn’t make it the best in terms of technical football ability. This is highlighted massively when our boys come up against another top footballing nation. If football men were running the game then this centre of excellence in Burton would have been built years ago instead of next to never as far as I can see. I imagine because it probably costs a large amount of money to setup and run and when you have to pay Capello’s salary it’s not so easy. But the long term future of English players need this training away from the pressures of the top flight in order to learn the skills to survive at the highest level, not to mention producing better coaches to ensure the best week in week out standards are met. Without this I can only fear that we will only go backwards when it comes to producing talent.
NUMBER 2 – The Media scrutiny & celebrity culture
Quite frankly this should go without saying but sadly it needs to be said. The media in England are out of control when it comes to squashing player’s spirits and ability to play with the freedom to produce great football. It must be difficult for the modern player to focus solely on their game when they have to watch every step they take away from it. Now I am not advocating the behaviour of every footballer and certain things should not be overlooked. For example Joey Barton or Andy Carroll’s run ins with the law. It’s more the celebrity culture that concerns me in the modern game. The press seems hell bent on rocking the boat and causing disharmony with matters that are not even close to football related. Take this summers world cup for example, we had a settled team and we were playing well and everything looked rosy. Then the media digs some dirt on John Terry and starts a hate campaign to get him sacked as captain and some even calling him to be axed from the squad, and for what doing something that is for nobody’s concern except the people involved. I am not saying John Terry was right to do this but do you think his wife would want all their dirty laundry aired in public. I very much doubt it but the thoughts and feelings of those involved matters little when there are papers to be sold. Surely this all has negative effects on player’s development when they have to consistently tow the line and watch every step the take off the pitch as well as on it. You could argue that being in such a privilege position harbors a responsibility to behave but these guys are human too and I am sure many a journalist has done the dirty on their wives over the years.
NUMBER 3 – The love of money
I feel that the technical education and love for the game has been replaced by the need to squeeze every penny out of it. This is of course only achieved by winning so the pressure to win is too great thus stopping any club from testing new talent in a fear that they will not succeed instantly. This will cost them league placings (and prize money/champions leage etc.) and ultimately managers jobs, all of which costs money to replace. So this prevents a manager from building a long term plan for sustained success. Also big money sponsors will only want their products associated with success so this reaps even more pressure on players and managers. Also it takes form out of the window, particularly at international level. There use to be a time when only players who are fit and in form would play for their country. Now when you have Wayne Rooney plastered on every England advertisement and his name on 1000 shirts in the stadium shop it becomes more difficult to drop him if he is playing badly. It costs a lot to keep replacing the merchandise with a new England hero.
NUMBER 4 - The expectations of the public.
Yes we as fans can share some of blame as much as everyone else involved. To relate back to my last article regarding the boo boys that have become common place in football is not to repeat myself but to reiterate the point. We expect far too much from the team and the pressure is far too great for any player to express their talents. I will use yesterday’s game with France as a prime example. The boo’s rang out in chorus at half time and full time even with debutants on the field which will do their confidence and belief no favors. I sympathize with the players when it comes to England I will admit. We all demand passion and lambaste them for a lack of it, but would you want to pull out all the stops for a group a supporters who cant wait for the chance to have a go at every opportunity. I know that if my boss was to moan at me every time I messed up regardless of my successes I would not work hard for him and the same applies here. So I say that we give them a break once in a while and they will soon buck up because playing for England must be a horrific experience for a player these days, particularly a young player just finding his feet at that level. I say it is as much our responsibility to install the pride back in playing for England as it is the players.
So in summary a fresh start is needed on all sides for it to work. A whole new crop of players need to be brought in and giving a chance to develop together without the scrutiny of the media and public waiting to give them both barrels at every turn. I think all of us as England fans want change but you can’t have transition and success at the same time. That’s why your mother always said you can’t have your cake and eat it too. So we have to accept short term failings for long term success because until we accept this there will be no change. Why would any manager risk untried young talent when they will more than likely lose their jobs before they get chance to see that talent flourish.