Monday, 2 August 2010

Who can we blame for England’s World Cup failure?

Now the dust has settled, and the new season is only a few weeks away, it’s worth taking a look at the various reasons put forward for England’s World Cup failure (again...). Much of the criticism has been aimed at youth football development. So... if you’re running a youth football club, or involved in football development, it’s time to take stock.

Let’s take the non-development related reasons for our failure first:
  1. Rooney.... Gerrard....Lampard etc are they really world class footballers? And if they are, they failed miserably to demonstrate it in the World Cup tournament (...again).
  2. Terry.... the classic English bulldog centre half... slow on the turn but quick off the mark when it comes to his team mates other halves and getting the round in on the London cocktail bar circuit.
  3. Fabio’s tactics – any manager that brings on the non-goal machine that is Emile Heskey to turn a match has failed to understand that winning matches requires hitting the back of the net. The average Fantasy League manager could probably have fielded a better balanced team.
  4. The Premier League - Too many games and too few English players. Only 38% of regular Premiership players are eligible for England which is why Fabio had to drag Carragher out of retirement and King off the treatment table. And with Premiership teams packed with cheap to buy but experienced overseas players, where do budding English players get their opportunities?
The simple answer is that our players are just not good enough. When did one of the leading non-English European clubs last sign an English star? Do we see Inter, Real or Barca talent spotting around the Premiership grounds. Yes...on the lookout for the likes of Fabregas, Torres etc.

Much of the blame has to lay with the way we develop players in England.... probably quite alot of the blame, to be honest. And the problems we have are deeply rooted. Here are the development related reasons:
  1. 11 a side football: In England we play 7 a side, and then switch to 11 a side at Under 11. In Holland, they play 4 a side from Under 5. At Under 9, they move to 7 a side. At U13, they finally move to 11 a side. Which model gives kids more opportunity to develop basic skills? It’s a similar setup in France, Italy and Germany. 
  2. Competitive youth leagues: Other countries run their youth leagues much differently... they don’t have competitive leagues. Or at least, they delay competitive leagues and cup competitions much later, to Under 13. So, in the younger age groups, players (and their managers) aren’t pressured to win the league, the Cup etc. Success is judged by player development.
  3. Grassroots coaching philosophy: Too many mini-soccer managers and coaches believe that the judgement of how good they are as a coach is determined by how many games their team wins. Whereas in many other countries, the emphasis is on skill development not winning games.
  4. Quality of coaching: According to UEFA, there are 2,769 English coaches holding UEFA B, A and Pro badges, its top qualifications. How does this compare to other European countries.....? Spain has 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970 and France 17,588. So if other countries have ten times as many highly qualified coaches, what chance have English kids got of developing their skills to the highest level.
Many of the issues surrounding development of professional players was covered in 2007 in the "Review of Young Players' Development in Professional Football" (Download here) How many of the proposals in this radical report actually got implemented? After months of power struggles between the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League... virtually none!

After another World Cup failure, perhaps it’s time they re-read the report and got back around the table.

1 comment:

  1. It is easy to point at one or two reasons for the continuous England failures in the World Cups but I feel the bottom line boils down to TOO much football during the season and the underlining factor of MONEY rules in today's football. I am sure there so many football talents out there ( the Linekars, Gazzas, Stuart Pearces or the Scholes') but can they ever get a look in if the grassroot is neglected? NEVER.....


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