For English eyes, it’s a familiar sight. A group of talented individuals representing our country underachieving in an international competition. In recent times, the anticipation has been met with disbelief. At senior level in the 2014 Brazil World Cup, two Luis Suarez goals sealed the fate of The Three Lions. For the England Under 21s side, a thrashing from a well drilled Italian outfit put the devoted footballing nation back to square one.
An inquest was due after the Brazil World Cup but that never came. After a shambolic showing at this years Euros, surely now is the time for Greg Dyke and the FA board to sit down and discuss where it is all going wrong. The inquest is unlikely as the FA will probably let the storm blow over, but here at The Boot Room the calamity hasn’t gone unnoticed. The inquest starts now.
Working down from the top makes Greg Dyke first in the firing line. Although he has no control over performances at the tournament, the build up is very much reliant on him bringing through the best English talent. From the moment a child slips on their newly bought boots, Greg Dyke is responsible for making that child play to the best of his ability. With control over what gets taught to Level 1 coaches at local clubs to the professional men making a living out of their football knowledge, Greg Dyke simply must do more for the English game.
Plans to bring in a stricter quota in favour of ‘home-grown’ players has received the backing of former England coaches such as Glenn Hoddle but is it really what is needed. If the home-grown players were good enough, they would be playing for the 20 Premier League clubs across the country.
It’s a problem deeper than a quota. If you look at the stereo-typically efficient German model it may currently be admirable but rewind 15 years to the year 2000 it strangely resembles a situation England find themselves in now. Having finished last in their Euro 2000 group, ironically behind England, a serious investigation into the quality of German football was launched.
The German youth system was completely innovated and now the current associates to the national team bare the fruits of the hard work. The system relies on the regular football trials held regionally. From there, the best are selected for national trials allowing all the top talent to come together. The professional teams are all invited to the trial and they scout the players from there before inviting the youth players into their teams academy.
In stark contrast, the FA rely on the clubs to send scouts to the thousands of destinations where football is played. The clubs neither have the staff nor the willingness to spend vast amounts of finance to find ‘the next Wayne Rooney’ plying his trade in the countryside of Farnborough, for example. A national ‘talent meet-up’ must be introduce and avoiding potential copyright issues, the German model must be replicated.
Greg Dyke has lots to implement. A new way of coaching the children to play an attractive style of football must be combined with opportunities to show their talent to the top English clubs. Only with this will the youth players be good enough to fill out the majority of first team squads therefore enabling Greg Dyke to implement his beloved quota system without to much backlash.
Gareth Southgate is the next in line and after choosing the team that got England to the Euros, all seemed to be sailing along nicely. What Southgate failed to take into account was the difference in quality between the games leading up to the tournament and the Euros themselves.
Having gone unbeaten leading up to the event, winning 9 and drawing 1, the hardest opponent was a 2nd place Finnish side that were dispatched comfortably 3-0. Then Gareth Southgate stuck by his team and confirmed his selection before facing Belarus in a friendly at Oakwell. The signs of underachievement started to show. It took a centre-backs goal in the 83rd minute to release the growing crowd tension.
At the tournament, Southgate stuck with a similar starting 11 to the one at Oakwell, altering only injured players. In the first game against Portugal it ended in a 1-0 defeat. A matching scoreline in the second game only differed as it was in England’s favour. It came down to the final game, win and qualify, lose and head home. I won’t give you the scoreline as I don’t plan on giving The Boot Room blog readers heartache.
Southgate left holding his head up as high as he could, but everyone could see through his words. The disappointment was surreal as English fans were left with huge ‘What ifs’. What if Raheem Sterling went? What if Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones and Ross Barkley went? What if?.. The list proceeds. Southgate ensures himself that he has ‘no regrets’ over his squad selection but surely as a national team manager he must rue the morality of his choice, harming the competitiveness of the squad when pitched against the likes of the finalists Portugal and Sweden.
The players also hold a share of failure after many failed to replicate their club form. Harry Kane often looked tired from a grueling first full season in a Tottenham shirt, Ings looked the same after carrying Burnley as best he could. Others simply didn’t appear capable of matching opposition quality, Gibson, Hughes and Forster-Caskey in particular.
For the players though, it is a learning experience. They shouldn’t be expected to dominant other national teams, they should be expected to give 100% for the cause to gain as much experience as possible. A damaging exit may help the players mentality while also alerting the powers above theirs still vast amounts of work to be done.
If the blame was a pizza, we ,as fans, have to take a fair portion of it. Leading up to a tournament small mummers of how well the national team will do grow into shouts. Each time, the team are overloaded with pressure spurring from the media, brainwashing fans into over estimating England’s chances. The unnecessary pressure is the cause of the disappointment.
The eventual winners received very little hype and maybe, after copying the German youth model, the press should follow the Swede’s example.
From the bottom to the top, English football is poisoned with failure. An intense revamp is needed throughout to bring success to the teams and joy to the fans. However long this takes, it is necessary. To finish, the cliché of the fact that only time will tell to whether the errors are corrected and the English game is given the success it craves so badly.
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