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Why the England Job Should Not Be The Focus Right Now

 Why the England Job Should Not Be The Focus Right Now

The British press are in a tizzy about who should replace Fabio Capello as the next England manager, or whether the Italian should remain in charge. Harry Redknapp? Roy Hodgson? Martin O’Neill? I’ve even read David Beckham’s name mentioned as a potential candidate.

But let’s face the bitter reality. Whoever is England’s coach for the beginning of the Euro 2012 qualification campaign doesn’t matter one bit. England’s problems are far greater.

In the past few years when people would ask me why England were so poor, my answer was that they never had a good manager in charge of the team in the past decade. That’s before Fabio Capello arrived. When the Italian took charge, I wrote on EPL Talk a few years ago that we would finally see whether England was a soccer power or not. And after a successful World Cup qualifying campaign, the proof was apparent as the Italian seemingly turned the team around completely after the lows of missing out on qualification for Euro 2008. All was right in the world.

But the 2010 World Cup qualification campaign was a hoax. Despite a couple of tricky matches, England was rarely tested so we never got a chance to see what the real England looked like. They didn’t sweep us off our feet, but they did seem consistently good. The true test would come when the 2010 World Cup arrived.

Now that we’ve dealt with the disaster that was England’s 2010 World Cup campaign, the dream is over. The evidence is now in black and white. There is perfect clarity. I can see it perfectly now. And that is that England is no longer a soccer power. They’re terrible. Inept. Weak. Hopeless. Technically inferior. Hapless. Embarrassing.

This past weekend was one of the most depressing ones for me in a very long time. I’m a very positive person, but I felt very down on Sunday after not only the realization that England and the United States had been knocked out of the World Cup, but also what the England loss meant not only to me but to the state of the game in that country. Sunday was a low for English football. A watershed moment that people will look back and discuss how England’s 4-1 loss to Germany was a turning point, sadly in the wrong direction.

Being optimistic, it’s going to be a good eight years before England has any hope of having a good run in a World Cup again. The next four years will be a transitional period where the team needs to be completely overhauled as well as the youth development system in England. The England team, even if they qualify, will look completely different four years from now. The “golden generation,” which was a fallacy, will have retired or will be way past their prime. In their places will be fresh, young England side that will have a lot of spark but very little experience. Eight years from now, that England squad may, and I stress may, be good enough to at least provide a decent performance at a World Cup.

So, when the British press gets all riled up about who should be the next England manager, it doesn’t really matter to me. Sure, I’d love to see an Englishman such as Redknapp or Hodgson in charge, but the British media is asking the wrong questions and focusing on the wrong issues. Who the next England manager should be is the last thing the English should be thinking about right now.

Trevor Brooking was interviewed today by the Press Association regarding what he thought should change in England. He said, “We need to invest in specialised younger-age group coaching. The old days when I played informally around the corner with my mates, developing my skills base, are not going happen anymore. An 11-year-old youngster in this country isn’t good enough technically so we have to play more short-sided games and do more ball work. The way the game is going is pretty clear. Teams are keeping the ball on the floor more. In the back four, you want all players to be technically comfortable. It all starts at the back and we want to encourage the grass roots this is the way to play.”

The Press Association article continued and mentioned that Brooking estimates it will be five years before the Under-17 side that won this summer’s European Championships will be challenging for full England honours, which means some dark days might be approaching. “World Cup 2014 will be difficult for England,” Brooking said.

These are some very dark days in English football at the international level. All of the warning signs have been evident for a long time. How the Premier League is ruining the development of English youngsters. How so few Premier League clubs have decent youth academies that are bringing through bright English talent. But now that we’re still recovering from the whiplash of an emphatic 4-1 win by Germany, and after the side effects have worn off of how England was cheated out of a goal, the stark reality stares us in the face. And that is, that the England national team is light years behind other nations.

Watching Brazil play on Monday was a surreal experience for me. It’s incredible how the Brazilians are so much greater than any other team in this World Cup tournament other than perhaps Argentina. The gulf between how good Brazil is and where the other teams are is immense. Brazil was so good Monday that it appeared they were like robots. Every move was so perfect that I almost wished they would make a mistake so they looked more human. The ball seemed to glide so naturally across the pitch from player to player. It was a wonderful game to watch and it showed to me how so far behind England is from the world’s best team.

England will probably never be as good as Brazil. But they, and countries such as Germany, provide so much great evidence of systems that work and how things should be done. The next 12-24 months in England will be one of the most crucial periods in the past 50 years of this game. It’s imperative that England makes the right decisions and completely changes the entire structure of the English game from top to bottom in order to ensure that the international game is a priority. That may not be possible, and there’ll be a lot of forces that will oppose it, but something has to be done. And that something needs to start now.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

30 Responses to Why the England Job Should Not Be The Focus Right Now

  1. sucka99 says:

    CREATIVE DESTRUCTION.

    if it helps England get better by the time they hopefully host the 2018 cup then won’t all this pain be worth it? assuming they can get the politics out of the way and actually do the right thing.

    and oh yeah – bring the public along so that they’re not seduced by the delusions of grandeur in the tabs (again – england’s biggest enemy)

  2. This article has already been written about five times in the last two days hasn’t it? I’m seem to remember reading the words England are crap, Technically not good enough, over-rated, quite a lot recently.
    All of the above maybe right but I don’t see why we need to keep reading the same thing over and over again. I understand that you might need to write a few articles a day to keep people coming back but saying the same thing over and over again and just changing the title seems a tad lazy to me.
    You also seem to lack the ability to write an article with an open question, you don’t look for the problems or open a debate as to what the problem might be, you just seem to do nothing but slag the England team and the English people off in the hope that it will get you some hits and comments.
    As i go through the last 10 articles on this site i see nothing but articles slagging England off and advertisments for people to buy the new seasons club strip or watch at a bar that you are an affiliate for.
    I’m sure when you set this site up it was for the love of the game, but it seems now that you would sell your own grandma for a few comments.

    The time has come for me to start searching for new blogs to discuss my love of the game as this one seems to be far more about baiting England fans and selling shirts and bar offers.

    • dlink09 says:

      don’t go poker we miss you :)

    • Jesse Chula says:

      Poker,

      As a writer for this site, I appreciate your willingness to speak your mind about what you’re passionate about – I myself do the same. Other than that, our passion for England is also shared, and trust me, I’m still in as much pain as you are.

      However, try to look at the Gaffer’s article as a continuation of analysis on one of the most important and historical moments in English football in the past 50 years – which was the defeat to Germany and further proof that England are miles behind where they should be for a myriad of reasons, and that massive amounts of change are needed.

      This topic needs more than one article and more than one view point because it’s such an important matter. Look at all the other sites, they’re doing the same.

      Most of the articles I’ve read on this matter on this site, including mine, have pointed out England’s deficiencies, but have also pointed at specific reasons as to why England struggle and what they may need to do to start changing things – which was also exactly what the Gaffer’s article talked about.

      As far as your comments about postings concerning club shirts, many readers of this site including myself are fans of club football as I’m sure you are as well, and enjoy seeing the new shirts to come this year. If you don’t like them, then skip those posts for something that holds your interest.

      You should stick around EPLTalk.com for sure though, who else will slate me when I continue the Premier League Footballer of the Week column again this August?

      • RobertG says:

        Although, have England really been relevant in football since 1966? Two semi finals in all competitions does not mean England are at the top table. Yes England may have the best league in the world, but so did Colombia in the 40′s-50′s, but they never did anything in tournaments.

        England should have seen these alarm bells a long time ago, Argentina 1998, Euro 2000, failing to beat 10men in 2002, falling to Portugal in 2004, dismal in 2006, failure to qualify in 2008…….in fact what happened in the 1970′s? And 1994?

        The coach is relevant, the players relevant, but also fans and websites like this. Before the World Cup, you all thought this team could be amazing, based on what? It shouldn’t have been a surprise, this team has been together since 2000, and have failed everytime in emphatic fashion. maybe you should have an article apologising for getting it wrong and hyping the players too much, 10years of failure is no coincidence.

        • Englands record is not that good but you have to remember how many times this team has gone out of major tournaments on penalty shootouts.
          When England played in 1990 against Germany, they reached the semi and were the better team on that night. They went out to Germany on pen’s and Germany went onto win that World Cup quite easily. The same happened in Euro 96.
          England went out to Argentina on pen’s, to portugal on pen’s.
          This may seem like sour grapes but there is no doubt that the winner of these lotteries makes a big difference to how a country does overall.
          I have no doubt in my mind that if England had beaten Germany on pen’s in 1990, England would have gone on to win the World Cup that year.

          • Jesse Chula says:

            Poker,

            Those are actually great points when you bring up the penalties, which is why there are articles on this very site concerning the mentality of the English players.

            Ask yourself, “why did all those good to great English teams suffer so badly on pens”? Although it (penalties) is somewhat of a crap shoot, ultimately the mentality of the English players broke down during the most crucial part of the match and resulted in England going out on pens.

            The players were of course good enough to make a pen, yet something in their intellect failed them when the pressure was on.

            Don’t you agree that this could have something to do with their mentality brought upon by the media and culture surrounding English football? – a topic well worth discussing on this site?

            The point here is that this very topic has been discussed and written about on EPL Talk recently and has every reason to be analyzed and dissected now and in the future.

          • RobertG says:

            Penalties or not, they lost, if penalties are an issue twice, the third time it should be rectified. 1990, fine, 1996, fine, 2004 and 2006? Reckless.

            I do not think England have been relevant in a long time. I have respect for the 1990 team, however, did anyone build on that side or has anyone used it as a reference point? Where are the Waddles? Where are the Barnes’? Where are the Platt’s? Where are the Gazza’s?

            That team was forgotten too quickly, they were a template, that team was nearly equal to the best in the world then, individually and as a unit, today, you cannot say the same on either count.

            Alarm bells should have been rung ages ago though.

        • liam says:

          im getting sick of hearing gerrard is only good cuz he played with alonso ,lampard with essien etc didnt relize alonso was the reason gerrard scores reguarly from outside the box ,win tackles etc,this has been banded about an now dipshit clueless fans have jumped on the bandwagon,so kaka was only good at milan because of ambrosini,gattuso,pirlo, i could go on an on,

      • Dave C says:

        Jesse,
        I’ve been an occasional reader of this website for a couple of months, but have only started posting in the last few days – mostly to offer what I hope is constructive criticism.

        I very much agree with Poker on this one. It seems like there have been dozens of articles in the last two days all basically repeating the same points – “England are no longer a footballing power”, “England’s players don’t have the technical ability”, “England just aren’t good enough”, “England would have been doomed regardless of Capello’s choice of 4-4-2″, “England are always making excuses”, etc.

        It seems like a lot of the articles also seem to take the straw man approach – i.e., they state some view point that is supposedly commonly held (“England are a major footballing power”), even though hardly any knowledgable person actually believes this, and then proceed to dismantle this straw-man viewpoint with a counter argument.

        This website is fairly addictive because of the volume of it’s postings, and the busy banter between commenters, but I’d like to suggest the following improvement:

        Instead of regurgitating similar articles, perhaps you could focus on analyzing the various talking points in more detail with a bit more nuance. For example, on the subject of “are england still a major power”, you could look at:
        (a) have they ever been a major power since 1970? You could compare tournament progress in the last 40 yrs.
        (b) is this really a genuinely held view- does anyone think they’re a major power? If so, who? Does any one think they’ve ever been genuine contenders for the world cup in this time, or just one of the 2nd tier nations that COULD win it if a few miracles go their way?
        (c) if they have declined, why? Have they got worse in absolute terms, or has everyone else simply got better?
        (d) Is the over-optimistic approach of the tabloids mirrored in other countries media also? Do the more informed broadsheets take the same view? Do the tabloids intend their jingoistic view to be taken seriously, or are they just playing along with the fun?

        Or instead of merely stating “England players are not good enough” or “English players don’t have the technique”, you could explore:
        (a) Do you mean ALL players lack the technique/skill (eg even Rooney, Gerrard etc), or do you just mean that not ENOUGH players lack the sufficient technique/skill (i.e. resulting a decent ideal starting XI, but a shallow talent pool)
        (b) Has this changed (for better or for worse) in recent years? If so, why?
        (c) If even the top players have weak skills, then how come they’re successful for their clubs? How come Rooney isn’t the weakest link at Man Utd if he lacks such skill? Why don’t Liverpool cash in on Gerrard and buy some one cheaper and better? And how come these clubs succeed in the Champions League?
        (d) Is there any statistical data to back up the claim -e.g. pass completion rates for England compared to other national teams, or for the Premier League compare to the other “big” leagues, or for English players in the Premier League compared to foreign players etc etc?

        I just think some subjects are ripe for a more fecund analysis than basically rehashing an “England are overrated” article for the tenth time. I hope my suggestions are taken in good spirit, because I like to think I’ve been constructive rather than just dismissive or negative. I just think there’s already a million places on the internet for “England suck” flame wars, and this website could aspire to something more.

        Also, how do I STOP getting email notifications of follow-up comments? I swear I NEVER clicked the “notify” tab in the first place, but I’m still getting dozens of emails every day that I have to delete.

        • Dave C says:

          Wow, just realized my last post was REALLY long. To summarize, I kind of agree that a lot of these articles are re-hashes, I hope you can focus on more nuanced discussion of issues in future, and I’ve made a few suggestions to explain the kind of thing I mean.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Poker, this is the first article that’s been written about the England manager position in the past week. In order to back up my story why I believe the press should not be focusing on the England position as much as they are, I shared my feedback on why I believe they should be focusing on the development system in England.

      In the past week, EPL Talk has published exclusive interviews with Paul Scholes, Henry Winter as well as publishing daily episodes of the World Cup Buzz Podcast and featuring a ton of articles on a top of topics. We’ve been working our arses off to provide the best content possible. You may not agree with the opinions expressed. That’s your choice. But I stand behind the work we’re doing 100%.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • The England match was 2 days ago and as I scroll back through the recent articles I have counted 10, that’s right 10 articles that do nothing but basically slag off The England football team.
        Throw in a few articles that focus on the selling of the Fulham, Arsenal and Tottenham shirts for the new season and you have got EPL Talk.
        There is no doubt that the England performances need to be looked at, but I don’t see articles discussing the problems the England team has, I see a lot of England bashing and baiting. There is little doubt that England team has problems, but there is a way to discuss it, to talk about it and overall present it and you seem to lack the tact to be able to do that.
        I would like to discuss the England team, the manager, the coaching and the youth system but I don’t want some America/welsh/german whatever team it your supporting this week to bash all things England. There are a lot of teams with problems, Italy and France to name two. You have Italian champions in Inter Milan that don’t have one starting Italian player, that is a problem. Atleast the Chelsea team fields atleast 3-4 English players on a regular basis. Yes there are problems in England but let’s get things into perspective, It is not just as simple as saying these players that play for Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool are shit.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Poker, this is a site that focuses on English football… hence ENGLISH Premier League Talk.

          If you want to read articles about us criticizing Italy and USA, visit our sister sites at http://www.serieatalk.com and http://www.majorleaguesoccertalk.com

          If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. England deserves to be criticized based on their performances during the past two weeks. They were a shambles. If they had done well, you’d be reading articles praising the team.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Nice attitude, maybe i should just continue to write post after post about the crap articles and the overall sell, sell, sell attitude of this site. You seem to be getting a little angry after two of my posts, maybe after about another 10 of my posts having a go at what this site has become you might get a feeling of where I am on the English subject. It is quite easy for me to pick out the problems with this site and be quite nasty about it the same way it is quite easy for you to attack the english team after going out of the world cup in a poor performance.
            To use your words:

            Your site deserves to be criticized based on its performances during the past two weeks

        • Pakapala says:

          I agree with Poker that there have been many articles on the site criticizing England’s run at the world cup but that’s to be expected no? I mean pick up any of the UK papers in the past 2 days, what do you think they’ve been writing about and will be writing about in the next 5 days to come?

          After all this is a website focused on English football. Like The Gaffer said, to read about the other teams failure and/or praise you can go to the sister sites MLStalk, SeriaTalk, LaligaTalk, Bundesligatalk.

    • David says:

      Take your love for one team and your hatred for an entire country somewhere else please. You wont be missed and neither will your ignorant remarks towards everything American.

      • Duke says:

        There is ample evidence after this year’s WC that England and the U.S. are about on par. That bodes well for NEITHER team.

        I’m a Chelsea fan, and don’t have any particular reason or desire to bash Lampard, et. al., but I know what I saw through group play and an ignominious exit from the knock-out rounds: Mediocre football.

        If that bothers you, Poker, find something else to do with your free time, or find a website with like-minded fans. Bashing the U.S. – or others – does not make England any better. Club play doesn’t matter. When it counted on the world stage, England (and the U.S.) couldn’t get it done. Period. They weren’t even close. It’s time, in both countries, to think about re-building.

  3. dlink09 says:

    good one Gaffer, i am really surprised reading news papers(in england’s case tabloids).. blaming capello for everything wrong with this campaign is unbelievable.. man can only do what he has..

  4. Mike says:

    I love the flip-flopping on the England job. Three years ago during the McLaren days, it was all about needing an outsider, a foreign influence to be the England manager. Enter Capello, the taskmaster. And funny how all was well during friendlies and even qualifying as England romped through Europe and installed itself as a favorite to win the World Cup. Now that the epic failure that was England’s World Cup run has been written and Capello exposed a bit, where does England turn now? To its past. We want an Englishman. We want an Englishman.
    How about just getting the best available person for the job?
    http://bit.ly/c5dBXD

  5. New England says:

    The US and England are the same team. Both teams play long ball (the last time that was useful was in my u12 game back in 1990), the skill level is not as great as everyone thinks it is (no US Forward has scored in a WC going back 7 matches now, Rooney is great with Man Utd when he plays with other GREAT players, but is average with a team full of average players) and finally the leagues. MLS is a nice 2nd tier league, but when your leading star doesn’t want to leave MLS and advance his skill you have problems. EPL is a great league, so great that EVERYONE wants to play in (Brazilians, Americans, French, etc) so the teams are dilluted of English players. It’s like MLB, it’s best league in the world, but Team USA won’t always win because we have so many Dominicans, Japanese, etc in the league.

    The problem, with the English team, is the love affair with golden generation. Germany fielded a team that had two guys who rarely score for their club team, but tear it up on international stage. This “golden generation” played like it was their god given right to be there, when it should be, “this is our last chance, leave it on the pitch”. Bring up the younger genration now and let them figure it out, give them the experience that is so needed and put these other players out to pasture. Let the young ones learn how to play this game and not put them on the international stage, half way through their prime.

  6. RobertG says:

    The England job should be part of the focus, you cannot have a team without a coach able to bring results. England could have done something, look at the teams that are flying right now, Holland-Argentina-Brazil, they are all counter attacking teams, England left all their counter attackers at home, when all pointed to this being a counter attacking tournament.

    England need to realise that developing a youth programme will take 10 years minimum, France started their programme in 1998, Germany began to invest in youth post Euro 2000, and even for all the negativity about Italy, their youth are technically and tactically accomplished that means by the time they are 25/26, they may not be experienced in games, but will be clever enough to cope and adapt.

    What I do not get is that Cappello could not do better with these players, who would have complained if he went with a 4-5-1, with the only attackers being Rooney-Lennon-Gerrard, the rest all defensive minded, afterall Greece did it and won? Maybe he will learn from this and do what is needed to win, not appease supporters. I am sure that in such a negative formation, teams would find it hard to beat England, whilst you always have the hope Rooney can do something special, you don’t need 11 stars.

  7. lee says:

    all this shit about germanys youth ozil khedira,international cant be that good when u have average players like podolski scoring goals ,when he cant even score for a mid table german team how many germans are good enough for big clubs mmmnmnnmnnnmnmnmn ozil sweinsteiger khedira lahm an mmmnnn oohhh nooo uhhh naahhh

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer says:

      11 consecutive World Cups Germany has advanced further than England. Certainly, they are doing something right, although it would be more appropriate to compare Germany’s record to that of Italy, Brazil and Argentina than that of England.

      As for your “big club” argument, the Bundesliga doesn’t have the number of clubs pilling up debt like La Liga and the Prem and even better doesn’t have the clubs that went bankrupt earlier this decade only to magically re-form like in Italy. It is a well run league, with the biggest crowds of any major football league in the world, and the best youth development system of the four biggest leagues in Europe.

      So if the above description of the Bundesliga disqualifies it from having big clubs, so be it.

  8. lee says:

    wesley sneijders only good because he plays with foreign players at inter,ha ha thats the attitude of these bandwagoners who dont have amind for themselves

  9. Dom says:

    I can honestly say that I find the Premier League much more important and entertaining then international football and I would not want to sacrifice the premier league being worsened for national side to get better

  10. Jeff says:

    England needs to totally overhaul its setup or they will never compete. Simple ball skills and movement are so poor in the English game. While the Premier League is exciting it is not an accurate simulation of the international game and the issues of weather and circumstances for international soccer cannot be replicated in England. Better ball skills, more technique, better passing on the ground and better positioning all are essential for an English revival. That takes time and has to start at the youth level.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer says:

      While this is all true Jeff, I don’t think blaming the Premier League is the right policy either. The first and most important step for England would be to build Burton and worry about the manager later.

      • lee says:

        why not talk about spains ridiculous world cup record kartik not 1 semi final hardly any 1|4 finals ohh wait ur anti english lets protect spain,germanys nothing special scotland couldve done better than england,an germany hasnt had that many great players in their history their just a good unit,case in point podolski cany cut it at club level 4 goals was it this season at cologne says it all,stick to blogging with thesde nobs kaartik because ppl in the real world aint interested in you,oh an england far outnumberd the yanks an every 1 else for that matter so u ask the hosts of these tournaments if were important or not

  11. Cricketlover says:

    I agree with the gaffer. In the aftermath of England’s disastrous showing in the World Cup a scapegoat is needed and that’s why Capello’s job is the discussion of the day. It’s the easy thing to do. A careful analysis will obviously reveal that the problem is more systemic and goes to the talent available and the type of skills players possess and how it compares with the talent and skills of other countries.

    Obviously how players are groomed in England has to be looked at and maybe a study of why other nations seem to be better at cultivating talent be carried out. Then choose a model and institute it in England.

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