Thursday, November 22, 2007

There is something rotten at the core of English football, and it was finally exposed last night.

Yes, it does hurt.

I'd like to be one of those people who have wilfully, and with some justification, abandoned the national team in recent years. The England team is full of dispicable, greedy individuals, hyped to within an inch of their lives. Some really aren't that good at all. When was the last time, for instance, Steven Gerrard really put in a towering performance for England? It's a lot easier when he's surrounded by the foreign quality, which he apparently abhors, at Liverpool.

But despite the fact that I don't actually like many of the England players, it's still England. My support for the national team pre-dates that of my discovery of Arsenal by a good 3 months or so (I was 7 years old), and whilst Arsenal long overtook England in my affections, I still want England to do well.

But they don't, and they haven't done for a long time. Not just since Steve McClaren became manager, but from, almost, the minute we relinquished the World Cup in 1970. England have achieved nothing since then, aside from a world cup campaign in 1990, in which we beat the titans of Egypt, Belgium and Cameroon to reach the semi-finals.

It's too easy, and ultimately erroneous, to blame foreigners for this malaise. As Arsene himself has said, England didn't win anything between 1966 and 1996 when there were hardly any foreign players in the English top flight. The influx of foreign players hasn't made the England team worse; if anything, it's merely highlighted its long-standing mediocrity.

Why buy an English player for three times the price of a foreign player of comparable, if not greater, quality? And before guns are levelled at Arsenal, this club has actually produced or nurtured many decent English players in recent years - the likes of Bentley, Pennant or Upson, players deemed not good enough for Arsenal, but English players of quality nonetheless. I doubt there are many other top-flight English clubs who have produced as many high-grade English players as Arsenal in recent times, even if few have ultimately made the grade at the club. And Arsene doesn't look at passports: if they're good enough, they're good enough, whatever the likes of the Daily Mail and Jermaine 'tag-boy' Pennant may say.

No, the real malaise in English football culture can be seen in every English town across the nation: the dilapidated facilities; the coaches who insist on physicality over technique; the quagmires which serve as pitches; the kids forced to play on massive oversized pitches, instead of being taught basic pass and move tactics in smaller size arenas.

There is something rotten at the core of English football. English football is currently, and has been for the last decade or more, experiencing the greatest influx of money it has ever known. Yet where has this money gone? On Rio Ferdinand's Bentleys, on David Beckham's myriad houses; in short, into the pockets of top-level footballers and those that run top-level football.

The Premier League's inception could have been a chance to reinvigorate English football root-and-branch, to invest at the lowest and not just the highest levels of the game. Instead, we're left with the white elephant that is Wembley Stadium, crap coaches, and average players.

Because that's what's neglecting the next generation has done: produced an over-hyped and under-achieving generation of footballers who really aren't as good, when put together and shorn of the foreign team-mates, as they or the media would like to think.

Who knows when England will really recover from this nadir. For now, get a foreigner to take charge, not just of the team, but perhaps even of the FA. Maybe they could actually teach us a thing or two, if we're actually humble enough to listen.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hit the nail on the head there boy.

gazzap said...

great article goonerboy... spot on.

Prashant said...

I predict that in 5 years time, England's team would be made up of players coming through Arsenal Academy. There are too many warmongers and opportunists out there who are making comments about lack of English players in the Arsenal set up without pausing for a moment to think about the quality on offer. However, what they cant see is some good players that are coming through the ranks. It is a fact that Arsenal contributes more to Under 21, Under 18s and Under 16s national teams than any other premiership team. However, this fact seems to be missed by one and all.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! It's unbelievable that the FA has no centre of excellence like the French have. Or that we play a crucial international on a pitch showing outlines of a US Gridiron game. Gerrard blaming England's form on foreign imports was just about the final nail in the coffin of my dying support for the national team. The players appear to have lost touch with reality. And there is no English coach to address the problems either. Bring back Glen Hoddle anyone?

Vivas said...

Good point Prashant. I agree that the future of the England team is in training now at London Colny as it seems that only Arsenal are committed to producing technically gifted players who can play at the highest level.
On the subject of England, I see Fabio Capello has said he is interested and if I were the FA I would bite his hand off! Sure he is defensive minded but that is what we need after this latest debacle.

cos said...

England for as long as i have been watching them try and play a continental passing game. theyve abandoned the high tempo in ur face approach which they were associated with. The problem is we dont produce the technical, quick,nible players needed for this type of football. but we dont produce these players for various reasons, thats why we import so many of them..some seem to think its the other way round and say that the reason we dont have technical players is because they dont get a chance at club level...these driving powerhouses (gerrard,Lamps,rooney ect) we produce are good players, but if youre gonna play the patient passing need technical side to compliment them.. u either have change ur training methods to produce the necessary players or if its not possible, you have to adopt an efficient, percentage power game(chelsea under Mourinho)

gazzap said...

I still think wembley could simply have had an extensive face lift at a fraction of the price it took to knock down and re-build. it would have been closed for a maximum of a year as well. OK so some of the seats might have been a little bit far away from the pitch boo hoo. so what. no point bank rupting English football for generations for the sake of a few plastic England fans. they managed with seats there for a long time with no problems and now we are paying for it big time. no FA school of excellence in Burton and they cant even afford a decent pitch. do you think the NFL game would have been played a week before the biggest game of the qualfying group if the FA weren’t desperate for the money? no way.
they can afford to pay Sven and McClaren off multi millions, but cant provide basic facilities for my sons to play football or coaches who know what they are really doing. the FA are a total joke.

Anonymous said...

Remember when poeople and Brian Barwick almost crucified Double D for wanting Big Phil,once again he was right and they were wrong......again

Anonymous said...

England could be great but great teams are managed by great coaches it is as simple as that.Noone should tell me that a team of Rooney,Gerrard etc can not win a world or European championship off course they can.

Anonymous said...

People forget Arsenal was never good until the foreigner Wenger took over.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @1:51 - Well done for talking out of your arse and displaying your total lack of footballing knowledge - George Graham won 2 league titles, two leauge cups, an FA cup and the European cup winners cup in the late 80's - early 90's. I can only presume you're a Chelsea fan, because of course every CSKA Fullham fan thinks the game was invented in 2003 and have no knowledge prior to then. Either that, or a plastic Man U fan wo's never heard of the Stretford End and who thinks the Busby babes were an advertising gimmick for BT in the eighties...

Anonymous said...

"At 1:22 PM, Anonymous said...
Remember when poeople and Brian Barwick almost crucified Double D for wanting Big Phil,once again he was right and they were wrong......again"

Funny thing is, yes, DD was right about Scolari. The FA should have hired him and we all knew as much then as especially now. The problem was the underhanded way DD tried to secure his services. DD's first instinct is to act unscrupulously. That cost him his role with Arsenal and his role with England.

Anonymous said...

For 9 - 10 months of every year I am interested in Premier league. Internationals come around occasionally and much of the time are dull encounters.

It is worrying to me that a set of people that have failed to make a success of their national team now might have a hack at something that is succesful rather than put their own house in order: egged on by a mindless herd of media muppets who are too lazy to work out where the problems really are.

The FA should spend their money developing talent from an early age upwards and measure their success by the number of players they can get into the free market Premiership.

Anonymous said...

check out this Fabio Capello blog ive found - its proper funny!