Roots of the English National Team's woes

ZamundaMan

Reserve Team
This is an article I found in the Economist, pretty much hits the nail right on the head regarding England's national team failures.

http://economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10186049

Skills gap

Nov 22nd 2007
From The Economist print edition
Why England's footballers keep underachieving

FOR a nation that invented the sport, the British are not much good at football. England may be home to the Premier League, perhaps the best club competition in the world, but half of the players fielded on any given weekend are neither British nor Irish. In a recent round of the Champions League, which pits 32 top teams across Europe against each other, there were barely ten English players, compared with more than 50 Brazilians and some 30 players each from France, Italy and Spain. There were also more Argentines, Germans, Romanians, Turks, Czechs, Serbs and Dutchmen. On November 21st the English national team, which has reached the final of only one tournament (the 1966 World Cup), was knocked out of next summer's European Championship.

This is part of a wider phenomenon some call “the Wimbledon effect”. England's Lawn Tennis Association, the world's richest tennis body, hosts the sport's most prestigious competition—and no Briton has won it for 30 years. Britain is spending £9 billion ($18.5 billion) or more to host the 2012 Olympics, but Colin Carlos*son, a former athlete, says it will take a “miracle” for Britain to win a gold medal in any track or field event. The country invests in bricks and mortar and marquees, but not in the skills of its sportsmen.


In football, Britain's main sport, some Luddites think the open labour market is to blame for the lack of local talent. They include Gerry Sutcliffe, the sports minister. On November 14th he argued that, as British clubs face no obligation to field players of their own nationality, they lack an incentive to develop home-grown talent. But this does not explain why other countries with the same rules prosper. Foreign players are cheaper to buy, but that is because there are more of them who reach the required standard. And when there were few foreigners in English football, the national team was no better.

The real problem, say Mr Sutcliffe's critics, is that the English do not develop their young players properly. Youth coaching, traditionally led by schools, was overhauled in 1997 by the Football Association (FA), the sport's governing body in England. More responsibility was transferred to professional clubs, which were required to improve their in-house academies.

But even these lag behind their European rivals in the quantity and quality of their coaching. A player at an English academy typically has two or three coaching sessions a week; on the continent, he could expect five. Damien Comolli, the sporting director at Tottenham Hotspur, a London club, calculates that a player in his native France clocks up 2,304 hours of coaching between 12 and 16, twice as many as an English player. And whereas the Englishman will spend much of that time playing matches (a poor way to develop skill, as each player spends a small fraction of a game in possession of the ball), the continental will be honing his technique.

Spain, Portugal and Holland all have excellent youth systems, but it is Mr Comolli's country that has set the standard since 1988, when its vaunted Clairefontaine national academy opened. France failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990 and 1994. In 1998 the French won it, along with the European Championship two years later. (Thierry Henry, one of the first batch of Clairefontaine graduates, was their top scorer both times.) They reached another World Cup final last year. But the FA's plans for an English version of Clairefontaine in Burton-upon-Trent have been stalled for five years, partly to pay for a new football stadium at Wembley and partly to placate clubs, which fear losing control over their young charges.

In any case, the problem runs deeper: Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, believes British players are already “damaged goods” by the time they enter academies, typically at the age of nine. More dangerous streets and disappearing playing fields have made the casual kickabouts in which youngsters first develop their skills increasingly rare. This is compounded by a dearth of good coaches at the grassroots—the money and prestige lie in coaching older prospects. As a result, the talent pool from which academies recruit is deficient. And by then it can be too late: physical and tactical prowess can be developed at any age, but technique must be acquired early.

Support for restricting the inflow of foreign players is growing, and it echoes concern about foreign workers in the wider economy. Mr Sutcliffe's comments call to mind the recent promise of Gordon Brown, the prime minister, to provide “British jobs for British workers”: there is, it seems, greater political desire to protect citizens from immigrant labour than to improve their ability to compete with it. But freedom of movement within the European Union makes such notions impractical, and many in the game regard them as risible. A review of youth development, commissioned by the FA and other football bodies and published in July, rejected the idea of quotas in favour of improving coaching, particularly of children from five to 11 years old. These voices deserve to prevail. In football, as elsewhere, protectionism merely coddles the mediocre.
 

KingPaulV

Starting XI
very good article, i seem to agree althought I am not familiar with British Youth programs, I am familiar with their underachieving consistently
 

night

Starting XI
Very good article indeed. I think the English fans and the media think too highly of the English NT. They're one of the better sides but they are quite behind the greats like Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, etc.. Therefore, it shouldn't be considered as a "shock" when England doesn't make it to a major tournament, just a disappointment..
 

adedawson

Senior Squad
too sum up

France and England failed to qualify for World Cup USA '94. Since then France has won one world cup, one Euro championship, numerous age group championships and have been beaten finalist in both Euro and world cup. England, on the other hand, have won ZILCH. So why is this? Easy, the French licked their wound, looked introspectively at their state of affairs and went back to the basics of talent nurturing. We continued to live in the shadows of 1966 - deluded and desperately clutching at utopian straws!
 

snoppf1

Senior Squad
i agree with the coaching, but i disagree with that talent bull****

englands under 17 football squad reached the europeian final for under 17's, beaten by spain to the title (who cares, spain will always fail when it comes to big competitions ill explain why later)

they also reached the quarter finals for the world tournamet for that age, narroly beaten by germany

i see the players who are signed up to academies, there good, really good, just aren't given the time to break into the first team, lose ambition and will proberly end up playing in the championship for the rest of their careers

not only that, some players who aren't signed up are still good, i mean if you went to see a school team play with 2 or 3 player that had signed up to academys you would have a hard time picking who those 2 players are sometimes, i say this because the way players are scouted isan't right imo

i spend a lot of last summer working on ball technique, all on my own i learn't how to play the hard way (no coaches at all, just practice)

there is plenty of talent in england, they need the room to breakthough and develop whilst in the first team thats all
 

Help?

Fan Favourite
Absolutely 100% Disagree. England players don't have talent? You gotta be completely ignorant of football to say that. Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Neville, Beckham, M. Owen are not among the world's best? You are having a laugh. Nice move by the media, scapegoat the lack of talent. The real problem IS the Media and all the pressure they put on the manager, which in turn puts pressure on the FA and the FA are like media's puppies or in a business world, a board of directors that has the media as shareholders. The media is the one scaring away the actual good coaches, they are the ones expecting a perfect performance from the not so good coaches, they are the ones making players thing that they are ******* amazing and they are the ones that try to make England dillusional about their chances. Lets face it, they got talent as much if not more than France, Italy, Germany or Spain, but the crap mentality created by the media and their lack of team cohesiveness, again created by the media views, really kills it. The last thing England lack is talent.
 

Sevillista

Starting XI
Help?;2443420 said:
Absolutely 100% Disagree. England players don't have talent? You gotta be completely ignorant of football to say that. Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Neville, Beckham, M. Owen are not among the world's best? You are having a laugh. Nice move by the media, scapegoat the lack of talent. The real problem IS the Media and all the pressure they put on the manager, which in turn puts pressure on the FA and the FA are like media's puppies or in a business world, a board of directors that has the media as shareholders. The media is the one scaring away the actual good coaches, they are the ones expecting a perfect performance from the not so good coaches, they are the ones making players thing that they are ******* amazing and they are the ones that try to make England dillusional about their chances. Lets face it, they got talent as much if not more than France, Italy, Germany or Spain, but the crap mentality created by the media and their lack of team cohesiveness, again created by the media views, really kills it. The last thing England lack is talent.

Looks like somebody only read the first lines before going on a rant.
 

Help?

Fan Favourite
No i read everything. And what the article is saying is that the talent pool in England is dropping. Which might be somewhat true, but use that as a problem for England's failure to qualify for EURO 2008? Common, that's just stupid. England's youth system has absolutely no relevance to the state of the current national team. The fact that more and more foreigners were suceeding in England has been known for over 10 years, yet England still has Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Rooney, Owen, Carrick, SWP etc. The talent of these guys is undeniable, so what does the youth system have to do with the bad mentality of those players during their International games?


The article is just so far-fetched, trying to blame the change in the way youth players are trained. Yeah, kids don't play that much soccer in the streets of England anymore. What do they think this didn't happen in other countries like Italy, Spain, Holland etc.? And do they think that kids actually play MORE football in the streets now than before in the smaller nations like Greece, Macedonia, Ukraine, Russia, that have improved on the international stage lately? The problem is the coach and the mental focus of the players, this has nothing to do with the youth.
 

Help?

Fan Favourite
Besides, i wouldn't call the reign under SGE as an underachiving one. Losing 2-1 to the World Champions in 2002 to a small mistake in a game that could have easily went the other way and then losing to the host and the finalist of EURO 2004 because of the referee mistake (Sol's goal), when again they should have won, is hardly underachiving. Yeah they didn't win, but atleast they gave the toughest test to Brazil and i guess second toughest to Portugal.
 

Zakov

Senior Squad
i think the main problem is that not many English players can get into the 11st eleven of the premier league's top sides, look at Arsenal for example, only Theo Walcott is capable of breaking thru that side, but he's always limited to the subs bench......i agree that foreign players will help the development of home-grown talent but whats the point if they aren't playing on a frequent basis?
I thought we really looked back in the 1998 WC, we need players like Ince, Adams,...
 

TOON ARMY

Starting XI
We do HAVE good players

However

They lack the required technical ailibty.

That come down to grass roots football. Kids on the continent work tirelesly on technique and learning of the game. In England we have an obbession of putting kids into a competative enviroment at far too early an age.

Result = Portugal, Brazil, etc churning out high rates of very talented youths. We produce plenty of youths in this country but only few make the grade and go on to the highest level. Why? Youth coaching in England is woefully ineduquate and very narrow minded.

Change it now and we might have a decent crop of technically gifted players come through eventually.
 

ZamundaMan

Reserve Team
We do HAVE good players

However

They lack the required technical ailibty.

That come down to grass roots football. Kids on the continent work tirelesly on technique and learning of the game. In England we have an obbession of putting kids into a competative enviroment at far too early an age.

Result = Portugal, Brazil, etc churning out high rates of very talented youths. We produce plenty of youths in this country but only few make the grade and go on to the highest level. Why? Youth coaching in England is woefully ineduquate and very narrow minded.

Change it now and we might have a decent crop of technically gifted players come through eventually.

Amen to that, for too long England's football has revolved around kick and run. And its not even smooth one touch passing, just ugly long balls lobbed forward for the strikers to eat. Whether Gerrard or Lampard, or Ince or Adams, its the same, kick the long ball let the striker run to it. Apart from SWP no one on the first 11 has the ability to do one- on-one's. This is a grassroots issue.

Can you blame the top four for not wanting English players, or not letting them break through when an African or a Brazilian are just more skilled. For every 1 Gerrard, there are is an Essien, Mauntari, Makelele. For every Terry or Ferdinand there is a Vidic, Sagna, Gallas, for every SWP there is a Ronaldo, Robben, Nani, Van Persie, catch my drift. English players aren't as good as we make them out to be. Something needs to be done, and its not kicking out the foreigners, it's a grassroots issue of development.
 

KingPaulV

Starting XI
^^
Very good post...I agree. As I learned about football, and I learned about the style of play of different nations one thing always stood out; that English players play the long ball, play for the high lob, for the run ons and so forth....That is a very English quality, but perhaps in this modern day of football it is no longer a valid strategy....It wasnt too long ago that teams like Poland, Russia and even some of East Asian countries played the long ball as their only recourse, physicality over technicality...now the long ball plays a lesser percentage of their game and in return their results world wide have improved dramatically...I think there is a need for a fundamental change in English footballing mentality with an emphasis on developing technical ability over physicality...A change of identity I would guess...and it is a shame because IMO England is such a storied nation, with a lot to offer, with players of high quality, but that cannot bring it together at the national level
 

MikeyM

Big Daddy
The simple and painful fact is that there are less English players in the Premiership because ... wait for it .... they...are....simply....not.....good......enough. Okay England does have some supremely gifted players like Rooney and Ferdinand and Terry and Gerrard etc.

I pin the faliure on several factors;

1: The 1966 effect. England has been dining out on this far off triumph for far too long - the survivors are wheeled out time and again and showered with adulation for a tournament largely forgotten by the rest of the world. The attitude should be not "We won the world cup in 1966" but "We've been absolutely pi$$ poor in every tournament for 41 years" Barring 1990, but that was the best we have been.

2: England's players are never to blame. Everytime we nosedive out of a tournament (or fail to get there) the search for "He who is to blame" begins. 1986 - Maradonna, 1990 - Gazza, 1992 - Lineker, 1994 - Koeman, 1996 - Southgate, 1998 - Beckham, 2002 - Ronaldinho, 2004 - Beckham (again), 2006 - Cristiano Ronaldo. Never once can our media say - well we lost because we played a better side, or we made tactical errors. I agree in the case of 2007, Steve McLaren was woefully inequipped to do the job - but ultimately faliure rests at the feet of the players who wandered aimlessly around Wembley.
Look at the logic, it's far easier to print Beckham/Ronaldo's face on a dartboard than face the truth that the England team is largely represented by pampered millionaires amongst which only two or three would happily give blood for the pride of our nation.

3: The media/advertising influences the team. Take Brazil for example, every friendly they have they use the opportunity to try new players and ideas - even the Copa America last year featured debuts for Anderson and promotion of Wagner Love to main player status. Look at any England friendly and you can see the teamsheet in your head (barring injury) Robinson, Neville, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Cole, Rooney and Owen - every single time. Well I'm sorry but there are 60,000,000 who want to see England evolve and do well - yet the FA see the £60,000,000 that Nationwide and Nike and Umbro will titter about giving them if "heavens above" England actually play some young players instead of the "Superstars".

And this leads to the situation that when one of the "Superstars" are injured for a big game, the likes of Scott Carson are baptised in a cauldron of pressure - and if they falter the consequences are dire - Little children will point and laugh at him in the street, and in all probability it'll be a long time before he plays for England again. Because "it was his fault" England lost. Except it wasn't.

How the hell would you feel if the second taste you had of an England cap was in a game where if you made a mistake you'd be "directly responsible" for the total faliure of the team. What if, when England played a "meaningless friendly", Carson had been told "Go out and play son, it really doesn't matter too much if we lose this - so play with no pressure". Then maybe when the call comes for the big games, Scott Carson feels confident and relaxed and can play the game. "I've done this before" he could feel.

4: England believe we have "A devine right" to be involved in these tournaments. We don't - we won't be there in Austria because ah, how do I put this? Ah yes "We played crap over nine or ten games and we don't deserve to be"
Sometimes (as with the Croatia game) you sense the England players feel they just need to turn up because "We are Mighty England" and somehow Croatia will just roll over for us.
As someone said, France failed to qualify for USA94 too, but while England were crying about "Koeman should have gone and the goal was offside etc" France's FA held a meeting and somehow came to the conclusion that it was their fault, and maybe we need to fix some things. And you know what?
That's exactly what they did, and won France98 and Euro 2000 on the spin.

Maybe there's a lesson there - all though the FA (appropriate that it stands for "F*ck All" - which curiously enough is exactly what England has won since 1966 (6) ) will obviously fail to learn it.
 


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