Where Does England Go From Here?

England's coach Fabio Capello reacts during a news conference at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg June 28, 2010. REUTERS/Darren Staples  (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

There is a saying that once you hit rock bottom the only way out is up. Unfortunately there is another option, stagnating at the rock bottom. The England national team hit rock bottom in South Africa and those out there flattering themselves that England will emerge from the utter mess a stronger team cannot be further away from reality. There is nothing about the present crop of England failures, the under 21’s or the English system as a whole to instill any positivity that the future will be even slightly brighter than the present all time low.

The game against USA was not as bad as most people have made it out to be and the Americans are a much better collective unit than most people give them credit for. Had “Butterfingers” Green not let in the dubious goal England would have gone on to top the group and meet Ghana rather than Germany in the round of 16. Albeit going by the new-low that England accomplished against Germany you can be rest assured that Ghana would have gone on to beat England by a similar margin if not more. Frankly, it is slightly less embarrassing to be humiliated by a German team than to be humiliated by Ghana. To say that England was bad against Germany would be wrong. Bad were Australia against Germany. England was as good as a bunch of 12 year old kids from the Indian sub-continent kicking a ball around on the street.

It would be difficult to accurately pinpoint one particular reason for England’s humiliating display at the World Cup. A host of factors collectively contributed to England’s lethargic performance but none more significant than the English football system that has consistently failed to produce good footballers for some time now. The primary reasons for this talent dearth are clubs like Arsenal who ply their trade in England but have really made no significant contribution to the national team in a decade or more. Ironically the one good football player that England has produced in recent times, someone who can walk out of almost every dismal England performance with his head held high, is Ashley Cole – a product of the Arsenal academy.

England is paying the price of not implementing the 7 + 4 rule a long time ago. One look at the current Arsenal squad and they are nothing more than a group of average French and African football players who play some really attractive football under an astute manager because the last thing that they are expected to do at Arsenal is win trophies. It is surprising what even average football players can accomplish if the pressure of winning is eliminated from the equation. To say that a country with a population of over 50 million does not have even players of the caliber of Almunia, Abou Diaby, Sagna, Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo, Vela, Denilson, Song, Djourou, Fabianski, Mannone, Eboue, Traore, Bendtner would be plain wrong. It is just easier and more economical for clubs like Arsenal to recruit potential talents from lower level clubs in France and Africa at dirt cheap transfer sums and wages than to take the financial burden of identifying potential English talents and groom them over years in their academies to have more than half of them fall by the wayside.

The highest contributor to the English squad in the present World Cup in terms of players was Tottenham Hotspur of all clubs and they were not even good enough to qualify for a Champions League spot til Liverpool decided to self-destruct. In Terry-Upson-Barry England had the slowest defensive trio in the World Cup and it would be wrong to blame Capello since he had so few players to choose from. The golden generation was nothing more than a farce and the next generation, the likes of Milner, Walcott, Downing, Agbonlahor look to be no better. Had the FA decided to crack its whip a few years ago and make it mandatory for all England based clubs to have a specified number of local players in the playing 11 the situation would not have been as grim and hopeless as it is now.

Truth is, for all the talk of national pride, the English fans as well as the players have always placed club over country. The national team of the local Old Trafford faithful is Manchester United and not England. It was distressing to see a German team comprising mainly of non-Germans play more for national pride than a no-good England team comprising mainly of thoroughbred Englishmen.

Fact is a month or so down the line over 60,000 Englishmen will be shouting their throats hoarse at the Emirates over 11 non-English players with little recollection of the horror of South Africa.

Honestly speaking the English have not won the World Cup in the last 44 years because deep down they really don’t want to…they would rather see their club win the English Premier League.

34 thoughts on “Where Does England Go From Here?”

  1. Yeah know what I stopped reading when you made your butter finger Rob Green comment. Rob Green wasn’t the one who didn’t score v Algeria. Rob Green was the one who let in soft goals V Germany. Rob Green wasn’t the one who could kill off Slovenia, and Rob Green wasn’t the one crowding the midfield and having Rooney chasing the ball the whole game.

    Yes he made a mistake. one of about 1000 serious mistakes by England players in this World Cup.

    Last world cup there was a villain to blame, he was from Portugal and winked, this year its Rob Green… How about England where and have been shit and the golden generation have been a huge disappointment.

  2. ‘There is nothing about the present crop of England failures, the under 21’s or the English system as a whole to instill any positivity that the future will be even slightly brighter than the present all time low.’

    Do you know anything about the England under 21’s and the England youth? I don’t think you can do, because if you did you would know the Under 21’s got to the final of the Euro’s and were beaten by a very good German under 21 team, and the England youth at U17 level are beating everyone put in front of them.
    Where do England go from here? They go onwards and upwards because this current crop are overrated, I don’t think they are bad players, and i do think that they could have gone further in the world cup given the right formation and tactics, but despite that, players like Barry, Upson, and Heskey are not good enough for the prem, let alone the England side.

    I would worry less about where England are going and worry more about where the U.S is going. I think the U.S has reached its peak and until the game becomes more popular in the U.S or until you start stealing players from other countries like the Germans are starting to do, then i don’t see things changing much for you guys.

    1. Well I actually think England’s future is very bright. They have some of the best Academy’s in the world. The Everton and West Ham academies have produced some of England best players. and will continue to do so. So the whole change the approach of the nation crap is just crap.
      The main problem is as you said the solidness of spots in the national team by the golden gen. Next WC is 4 years away and many won’t even feature.

      I think given the opportunity to work with club youth systems Capello will take England to the top, unless the fickle English media forces him out.

      That said. you are very ignorant of the American game. And yeah sure the final Sunday was Germany 2 England 2 Poland 2, but hey welcome to the modern world… If Catalonia broke off from Spain in FIFA, I gaurentee that Messi would play for them.

      There was talk of Manuel Almunia playing for England before he lost form. so think first before you Ryan Giggs Owen Hargraves it.

      1. Giggs does not play for England, he has 50+ caps for Wales, Hargreaves parents are English, from Bolton in the North-West of England i think and therefore that is a little different to a Brazilian who has no ties to germany apart from living there for the last 5 years

        1. that is a little different to a Brazilian who has no ties to germany apart from living there for the last 5 years

          Cacau moved to Germany to work, and not play football specifically and started playing again at the amateur level. He’s married a German and his story of rising from out of football to scoring in the Champions League knock out stages against Barca is one that anyone can embrace. He’s lived in Germany for a substantial amount of time now. At least a decade.

          1. Poker, Cacau from everything written and said has NO INTENTION of ever living in Brazil again. So based on that is it fair to exclude him from playing for Germany? He speaks German, moved to Germany not to play professional football but to work and has a German wife and passport. This sort of thing happens all of the time in international football. Carlos Llamosa was a Colombian born security guard at the World Trade Center who returned to professional football after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He became a US citizen in 1998 after ten years of living in the USA with relatives and featured for us in 1999 Confederations Cup and 2002 World Cup. IS that “stealing someone else’s players.” How about the number of Brazilian immigrants to Japan who move because of the extensive cultural and business ties between the nations and end up playing for Japan?

            The Cacau story is heartwarming and to be lauded not criticized. This guy wasn’t even a professional footballer and he worked his way up from sunday league, to amateur to 4th division and eventually to Champions League/Bundesliga1. Now he scores in the World Cup for Germany. To me this should be applauded not criticized.

          2. Kartik, I don’t really care how nice the story is or whether he has gone on to marry a German woman. The fact is, he is not German and nor are his parents, he has qualified to play for them by one, not being chosen by Brazil to play internationals and 2 the amount of time he has been in the country.
            The fact remains, he is Brazilian, he was born in Brazil, and he grew up in Brazil.
            I could go to Australia and marry an Australian woman, it wouldn’t make me Australian.
            The youth systems in this country at the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd have huge numbers kids from other countries playing in their youth systems along with the talented kids from England. What would you say if England start sticking an England jersey on these kids from Spain, France and Holland just because they have been here for 5 years?

    2. “I think the U.S has reached its peak and until the game becomes more popular in the U.S or until you start stealing players from other countries like the Germans are starting to do, then i don’t see things changing much for you guys.”
      by Poker Rakeback

      I’ve got to laugh at the ignorance not only of Germany “stealing” foreign players just because some of their players (perfectly Germans by all account) happen not to fit Hitler’s idea of the pure superior human race. But just as well the ignorance that your own England have not had foreign-born players in their squad.
      Surely if you want to point fingers at Germany for “stealing” foreign players, what would you say about England who’s been doing it for decades? John Barnes anyone? Why don’t you aim your xenophobic thoughts at him?

      1. The issue is not with what colour the player is but whether the player was born in that country or not, whether that player has any family ties such as parents belonging to that country.
        When you say no to both these points as is the case with Cacau then the player being ‘German’ has to come into question.
        Get your facts right pakapala

  3. haha shows what you know. Arsenal are bringing through so many good english players in their academy, gibbs,wilshere, benik afobe, chuks aneke, JET, eastmond and I could go on and on. All players that are very talented and could very well end up in the england side. So don’t go pointing the finger at arsenal.

    1. I actually read the rest after the Green bit and WOW…. Yeah Arsenal is just out for the French and Africans who speak French….. I’m no Le Arse fan but guess he never looked over the reserve team…. amazing really.

  4. Wow this article is pathetic, what new lows EPL Talk has reached in the last few weeks.

    ‘the current Arsenal squad and they are nothing more than a group of average French and African football players’

    Yep that’s probably why every one of them is an international, Van Persie, the number one striker for the Dutch team and Fabregas, a player that the so called best team in the world (Barca) are trying to buy for 50 million.

    But you know what your talking about, besides the dutch striker, the russian and english wingers, the spanish and welsh midfielders, the begium central defender and the spanish keeper, they are just average international french players with no african starting player.

    Gotta be a new all time low this ‘Gaffer’ and after the recent articles that is saying something

  5. I think we can all take this article for what it is. A moronic Englishman that’s mad at the team for embarassing him at the world cup. He didn’t do any research, and he picked on Arsenal because they didnt put a player in the WC squad and still manage to make the CL every year. If you dug just an inch below the surface, you’d find that the England youth levels have been populated by Arsenal players for years now. Just because they dont break into the first team at Arsenal, doesn’t mean they didn’t get groomed there. Half of England’s defence agains Germany were Arsenal products. The u-21s and u-18s and u-17s are full of arsenal reserves and youth team members. Do some research before you spout off ignorantly for people to read.

      1. Speaking to as many journalists as I have that are in South Africa, an englishman who covers other sides (not England) told me yesterday that the English writers are the least knowledgeable about football that are covering the World Cup. It is possible their are writers that do not speak English, Italian or Spanish that he has not interacted with that are less knowledgeable, but among English/Spanish/Italian language journalists covering the tournament he thinks the English writers are by far the worst and have the least knowledge specifically of tactics as he claimed to me. He told me it is almost impossible to have an intelligent tactical discussion with some of the English writers hanging around the IBC, and that with few exceptions their world view is extremely narrow.

        1. Blah blah blah Kartik, Why don’t you reveal what nationality the writer is then? Stop talking shit, just tell us and if I’m wrong I will be happy to give myself a thumbs down.

          1. The writer as I clearly stated above is English and worked in England for years and had hoped the journalists who cover football had moved beyond what he calls “glorified gossip writers,” and into proper football journalists. While he told me their are several exceptions by and large the English press corp on the ground in South Africa is the least sophisticated in understanding football by a wide margin. Quite frankly, reading the “analysis” in much of the UK based press pre tournament and during the world cup, this assessment is a no brainer when compared to the understanding of the German, Italian and Spanish press about the sport and how to properly analyze tactics, formations, team strength and squad selection. Again, their are some good English writers, but for the most part the English journalists lack the understanding of world football that their continental colleagues have.

        2. talking out of ur backside have you seen the writers an headlines on marca gazzeta etc english journalests r based all over the world tim vickery in brazil,an many others even in places like bosnia etc,how many of these italian journos did really speak to kartik,talk with ur mouth an not ur backside

        3. yeah because italians really care about the honduras league etc so like us that makes them narrow in their view no wonder kartik is not wanted by a sensible blog, why dont u buy world soccer magazine an see how many english journos cover the world game,kartik= comic book guy from the simpsons,papers like marca etc have no class so ur talking out of your backside

          1. Lee, your continued comments on this site just reinforce the stereotypes of English fans as ignorant. When you listen to Talk Sport, and Five Live it is obvious English fans live in a fantasy world which is a alternate reality. I think both Krishnaiyer and Farley are over the top on touting how much football they watch (Krishnaiyer always brags about the leagues from South America he watches and Richard actually hosted a Russian Premier League podcast which became the but of jokes on Twitter) but English fans are the opposite extreme. Thye subject everything to a distinctly English and Premier League related standard.

            As for Italy, Gazzeta Del a Sport covers other leagues far more than any mainstream UK based publication. Yes, Tim Vickery watches Brazil etc, but the typical writer employed by an English daily paper knows little of the outside football world. I’d say Amy Lawerence from the Observer and Patrick Barclay are noteworthy exceptions to this general trend.

          2. World Soccer happens to be an American owned publication by the way. English daily beat writers which is whom I have to assume K was referring are the worst. I’m fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and French, so I see what those national papers are like and they are all more worldly in their approach to the sport than the English ones. Too bad for K they don’t cover the Honduran league the way he’d like. Yes, his emphasis on Latin America is annoying, I agree.

  6. i believe always in the football i’ from central america and a big fan of the premier league, so i always will believe in england national team as in one of the best in the whole world. capello is a great coach keep him if you can…

  7. Actually a bunch of 12 year old kids kicking the ball around on the streets of the Indian sub continent would have fared better than this English team. The kids would have displayed way more pluck. For every minute they were on the pitch wearing their national colours.

  8. Maybe this is the tome where English fans and journalists realise that there are many technically better players out there. Maybe, it’s time they realise that only passion, screaming mental fans and bloody legs are not enough to win a match. You need good control footballers. And simply england doesn’t have any.

    Ok, it’s fair to criticise Arsenal for employing non-English players in their squad. But are they wrong? Why would ANY club sign Gareth Barry for 20 mil whereas there is Alex Song for not even a million. Last winter Arsenal paid good for Arshavin; well I don’t see a single English player who would have fit to replace him. SWP? Ashley Young? Lennon?

    Honestly speaking, England lacks the technique. And the fault doesn’t lie with the current crop of players nor with the head coach nor with then not implying of 7+4 rule. It lies deep beneath their structure and system. When a group of 9 year olds get a full 11 a side pitch to play, the result is not always on the right side.

    1. Well said, and truthfully these structural issues of how kids are taught technical skills and tactical sense have been problems in English football for the two plus decades I’ve been following the sport. England’s problems at big tournaments are utterly predictable despite the constant abuse I get for my picks every World Cup or Euro. Honestly, picking against a side with no tactical sense/flexibility and horrible technical skills when compared to big powers is like taking candy from a baby. Every major tournament winner over the past two decades has either had a tactical system, exceptionally technical players, an unbreakable team spirit or some combination of the three. England has for the most part since the great run in 1990 had none of the three. We haven’t seen a player as gifted as Chris Waddle or Gary Linekar since. We see players who bunch up on the pitch and have no positioning sense. We see players whose first touch is like lead, and whose creativity in the final third is shockingly poor. In other words, England is miles behind the top football nations and also lacks alot of what some of the mid tier UEFA sides (say a Greece, Sweden,Portugal, Denmark, etc) have had at various stages recently.

      People think I’m anti-English. I’m not at all- I love England and love the English passion for the sport. Most of the Latinos around me in the sport think I am an anglophile, believe it or not because of my passion for the English professional leagues and understanding of the fan culture (at the club level)because of the amount of time I have spent in England.

      But specifically stating the truth about English football and proving to be right every major tournament opens me up to all sorts of abuse. It is about time English press and fans began paying attention to other leagues, other styles of play and other nations and realizing how far the gap is between them and the rest of the world. In 2006, I said over and over again, only totally ignorant people about the sport could possibly tout England to win that World Cup. I will say that again about 2010.

  9. Facts are facts whether you like it or not…man for man they have some of the best players but i dunno whether it was pressure or not they did not play like a proper team and i mean team…having good players is not the same as playing like a good team.Even Don Fabio failed to get any spirit out of the players esp Rooney.

  10. Nishad,
    I’m sorry to say that you are being delusional if you think that man for man England have some of the best players. Technically, English players are way behind the curve.

  11. be careful what you wish for, FA doesn’t have any power to control EPL and even if it tried.. here comes super league..

  12. where were all the american fans at the wc kartik said they bought all the tickets,there were more english fans at non english games than any other nation,so dispels kartiks myth,theres a reason u write on a blog with dimwitted writers like this………………………………………………………

  13. the differenece @ the top end of the leagues is definitely noticeable..

    take barcelona. A team that has won major honours while fielding loads of homegrown talent. Busquets_ xavi, pique, pedro..all players on the spanish team (im not sure what iniestas story is).

    look @ england, and you have to point to a lot of the national team talent coming from mid and bottom table teams.

    you can point to a lack of exposure to englands short comings.. There is nothing wrong w fielding a team that largely is domestically based (zee germans do it)…but the english players only know how to play “the english way”…spain has key players who have pried their trade in england and spain. The dutch have players from england,germany, spain and italy…the same can be said for other good sides like brazil and argentina.

  14. What? The German team is comprised mainly of Germans. Many are of immigrant backgrounds, but they were mostly born and/or raised in Germany, once again some even have one “pure-bred” German parent.

    What exactly does it take to become a German or Englishman then and not get labled a non-German. Is Mario Gomez German?

    Why the heck I’m I wasting my time, sorry.

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