Connect with us


The problems surrounding the England national team are systematic and extend way beyond the Premier League’s foreign imports

The Boot Room



The Football Association recently revealed Greg Dyke as its new Chairman and he was quick to announce his intentions for the role; improving England’s floundering national team. After their capitulation in South Africa, England struggled through to the quarter finals, outplayed by a rejuvenated Italy. The next challenge for Roy Hodgson’s side has been qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a challenge England have hardly excelled against, with qualification going down to the wire, with a crucial match against Ukraine on Tuesday followed by a likely top spot decider versus Montenegro in October. Dyke was quick to point the blame at the feet of the Premier League, claiming that he and the others with a hand in its formation had no idea the monster they were creating and that the League’s expensive foreign imports were stunting the development of young English talent. This has been a common criticism in recent years, with every major tournament failure followed by numerous rants and articles bemoaning the greedy and self-serving Premier League. However, is this really a fair summation of the problems currently plaguing the England national team? The Premier League is an easy scapegoat, but pilling yet more blame at the feet of the country’s top clubs will not solve the national team’s problems and neither will ignoring the other systematic issues that are holding back the Three Lions’ progress.

During his time as manager of Barcelona, Johan Cruyff made many important decisions and changes, but one more than any other changed the face of Spanish football. It is surprising to hear now, but prior to Cruyff, the now world renowned La Masia Academy admitted players based on their physical potential, not technical ability; if a player wasn’t expected to reach a certain height then they weren’t admitted. Cruyff changed this, dictating that any player who was good enough was also tall enough and strong enough, it was a footballing paradigm shift and La Masia began to produce the likes of Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi; the beginnings of one of the greatest club sides of all time. Cruyff made these changes in Spain in the 1990’s, it is now 2013 and in England up and down the country, players are still picked in youth sides for their physicality, and we wonder why we are so far behind Spain in terms of the quality of our national side; it is because England are over 20 years behind in the way we produce and coach young players. Some small players are making it through the system; those who are truly and precociously talented still fight past this physical prejudice, but not enough. Also prevalent is an either or mentality. Players can be big and strong, or players can be small and technical, it is a fallacy that is holding English football.

There is a reason that throughout the continent and South America, young players all learn their craft playing futsal, because for certain players, an eleven a side match is simply too physical at the age of eight, nine or ten. This is no reason for these smaller players to be left by the wayside, nor is it a reason for stronger players to neglect the technical side of their game. Playing eleven a side matches is great experience for young players; it helps them grow accustomed to the physical demands of professional football, as well as learning the tactical side of the game. However, at is stands, youth coaching in British football is one dimensional and too many potential young players are falling through the cracks. This is an issue that has nothing to do with the Premier League. Greg Dyke can complain all he likes that the Premier League is too reliant on foreign imports, but perhaps if English clubs were producing more technical players of their own; the Premier League’s elite wouldn’t have to go shopping.

It is not just small, less physically imposing players that are falling through the cracks either. England is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It is part of this country’s identity, part of what makes England great, yet the national side is not representative of this multiculturalism. In recent years, the world has watched as Germany has benefited from a policy of inclusion, accepting and actively recruiting from their immigrant communities to strengthen their own national side. Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira of Turkish descent and Klose and Podolski of Polish descent have all chosen their adopted home over their ancestral one to become key figures for Germany. One has to wonder how well this wonderfully talented German side would have fared in recent competitions without these key, adopted players and how the likes of Turkey and Poland (who can also bemoan the loss of Laurent Koscielny to France) could have done if these talented players and chosen to play for the teams of their ancestors. Given the huge success of Germany, it is baffling how we in England haven’t followed suit. Young English players abroad are almost entirely ignored by national scouts, with Lewis Holtby the highest profile of players to pick their new home over England, with new Liverpool signing Tiago Illori another example. However, this problem also extends to players at home. England is a far more culturally varied country than Germany, which dozens of immigrant communities call their home, many for generations, but how many English-Indians are there in the England national team? How many third generation Poles? England has benefitted from certain players picking their new home, particularly from African and Caribbean countries, but how many have we missed out on such as Chelsea’s Victor Moses? And why does it seem to be that only particular cultures can be included in the national team? Why have we have had African and Caribbean Three Lions players, but no English players of Turkish or Pakistani descent? Or Polish? Or Brazilian? Or Romanian? It is a bizarre and disappointing situation, that out of all these cultures, that all have thriving communities throughout England and have done for generations, none have had players who have gone on to be English internationals. It is disappointing for footballing reasons, but it goes beyond that; the England national team should be a reflection of England and what makes this country and currently it unfortunately simply isn’t.

This lack of identity extends to style of play. English clubs are feared across Europe for their fast and direct approach, but the English national team is not. The players that make up the England squad are all used to dominating teams with their club squads, playing a high tempo and direct possession game. Yet when they turn out for the red and white of England, an inferiority complex seems to prevail. The fallacy that England can’t match the world’s best is pervasive, this pathetic false belief that our only option against other international sides is to play a negative and conservative counter attacking game. The occasional performance aside, watching England in past seasons has been laborious, with possession conceded against the world’s better sides before a ball is even kicked in anger. It would be ridiculous to suggest that England should attempt to play like Spain, however, it is also ridiculous to suggest that with the likes of Carrick, Wilshire, Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard in the side England should be reduced to a counter attacking side. Furthermore, with the wealth of pace in the English, the slow tempo with which the Three Lions play is infuriating; Fridays match against Moldova was the first time England had scored at Wembley in the first 20 minutes during this qualification campaign. It is telling that England’s last four permanent managers have a combined age of 250, England are stuck in the past, with no invention and no progression.

It was refreshing to see Southampton’s Rickie Lambert earn his first caps against Scotland and Moldova, and whilst it has been almost universally accepted that he has earned his caps through his performances in the Premier League last term, many fans have been quick to add a caveat; that at 31 Lambert is not the future for England. Except that he is. Lambert himself is never going to break any international records and if he does manage to make it on the plane to Brazil, it would certainly be his first and last major tournament for England. What makes Lambert the future for England, is what his call up could represent; picking players based on form, regardless of age or how fashionable the club they play for is. One only has to look at the selections of Young and Milner. These are undoubtedly two very good players, however, they have not been playing regularly for their clubs, nor have they impressed when they have made appearances. Meanwhile, Leon Osman and Adam Lallana of Everton and Southampton have been consistently churning out appearances of great quality and do not get a look in. It is hard to understand why these players only have one cap between them, is what sets Young and Milner above Lallana and Osman really a gulf in quality? Or is it that Young and Milner play for the two Manchester clubs and have a reputation to match. Unfortunately Lallana and Osman are not rarities; with Gerrard, Lampard and Wilshire all having suffered through poor form and injuries lately, what does Leon Britton have to do to earn a cap? The England national team should be made up of those players who are eligible for the team and are displaying the best form, not who has the biggest reputation and plays for a fashionable club. Of course there are going to certain players who are so invaluable that they are picked even if they are low on form and fitness, but the current state of affairs goes way beyond that. The England set-up has become way too cosy, the same established so called stars are almost guaranteed a place in the squad and so have little incentive to perform with the only competition coming from whatever young ‘wonderkid’ happens to be the flavour of the month.

Many have delighted in the call ups of Barkley, Zaha, Sterling and the like,  but whilst of course it is great to see excellent young English prospects, these call ups are indicative of how hugely England have misused the under 21 system. If German or Spanish, these players would not have earned senior caps yet, but instead properly matured through the various age groups. These countries take competitions in the lower age categories seriously, not rushing players through, but allowing each age group to progress naturally, gaining competitive experience at every level so they are ready when they finally make the step up. There is an outdated arrogance to the English national team, one exasperated by a disregard for youth competition and a tedious predictability in the management, with appointment to the senior posts almost always elder, past their peak and in the zenith of their careers. What England needs is progressive coaching and a clear footballing identity, from grass roots, right the way up to the senior side of the national team. Until this is established and complacent stars are spurred into activity by the selection of in form players, England will continue to underperform regardless of Premier League. The fact is Mr Dyke; young players are getting chances in the Premier League. For all of the league’s expensive foreign imports, at Southampton Luke Shaw is an established starter at eighteen and has been joined by James Ward-Prowse this term, over at Everton Ross Barkley has shone and John Stones will be pushing for a start, Liverpool have a host of young English stars, with Raheem Sterling just the pick of the bunch, the list  goes on with Zaha and Chalobah at Manchester United and Chelsea, or Will Hughes at Derby, the players are there, but the system is failing them. (

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.


Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.



Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

Continue Reading


Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash



England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?


Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.


John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.


Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell


Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,


Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

Continue Reading


Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022

Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.

Mathew Nash



England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.

So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?

When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.

Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.

But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.

He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.

With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kieran Dowell

The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.

Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.

But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.

(during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Leicester, England.

Jonjoe Kenny

Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.

An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.

Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2018 The Boot Room.