Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Thursday, November 22, 2007

McClaren and Wenger blamed for England’s failure: A nation in denial

By The Coach

Sure, McClaren was never a brilliant football manager and yes, a better choice could have been made in May 2006. But isn’t this typical of a nation that goes into mass denial once again?

The problem of English football is deeply rooted and has to do with an archaic footballing culture that is fostered and maintained by all, including those who are now taking to pieces poor McClaren.

All these experts and professors of football are quick to advise the eternal formula, “sack the coach and start again”. If only it were that simple!

Wait, haven’t we tried that many times before? Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle, Sven Goran Ericsson and even Sir Alf Ramsey did not escape becoming the scapegoats for the more obvious reality that a whole nation does not want to even consider, let alone, come to terms with.

The fact is that football in England is bad! It is too physical, too square, too predictable, too English!

The mass hysteria has even reached the point of blaming it all on Wenger! Yes, unbelievable as it may sound, some gurus in England actually profess that the problems with English football emanate from having Arsene Wenger type managers in the Premiership!

“If only Arsene Wenger would try to create successful teams in the Premiership using young British rather than international talent, then…”

Wenger is not racist or anti-British! He would love to be able to build a championship winning team using available talent from England. The problem is that there is no such talent (and surely not at the same cost) to be found as could be sourced from abroad.

Looking into the problem a little deeper, the talent that can be developed into the Fabregas, the Van-Persies and the Hlebs of this world is so rare in England for a very good reason.

Young kids in England are unfortunate enough to grow up in England. By the time they learn the rules and have the British footballing values embedded into their persona it is far too late to explore and develop their natural qualities for creativity, imagination and flair on the field.

To use an analogy, it is like having Van Gough or Mozart create their beautiful work while serving in the army.

Back in early September I along with 1970’s Gooner began a series of articles that expounded on this very issue (see our posting England will probably never be a world football power again).

In our opinion the reason for this lies on the emphasis placed by the English society on several character related attributes, which in the end help to stifle any skills that a young player may possess.

These attributes, admirable as they are, concentrate more on the traditional English values of commitment, work ethos, effort and physical and mental strength.

All very important and very necessary elements in what makes a world class player.

But alas not sufficient. And they inevitably manifest themselves in all aspects of the English game.

In the way the players themselves play the game. In the way English coaches encourage their players to conduct themselves on the pitch. In their choice of strategies and tactics. And in the way the referees interpret the laws.

In fact most English players are made to look better when they are playing for their club teams which mostly consist of foreign players.

But when they have to co-exist with the rest of the England squad and line up against their club colleagues and other more skillful players in an international game they have no such “shield”

The truth is that England are really an average team who is made to look a little bit better when a few world class players emerge now and then.

England will probably never be a world football power again


Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot on!

Anonymous said...

Great article, something else worth mentioning is that the Thierry Henrys and Ronaldinos of this world talk about using their football to escape the poverty of where they grew up yet I've never heard an English player say that, in fact all English players appear to come from quite well-off families. SAF made an interesting point recently (unusual for him) when he said that just because you play a game of football doesn't mean you are a footballer & I have to agree with that. I think you're spot on when you say that it's the foreign players in teams such as Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea etc. that make the English players look better than they are. Not including Walcott in that generalisation lol but it's obvious we have problems with producing decent home-grown talent. Maybe instead of blaming Wenger & the other managers who, to be fair, are trying to build cup-winning teams on a set budget so that they get to keep their jobs, we should be looking at investing more in the youngsters here & giving them the same opportunities that the foreign players have. I don't have the answers unfortunately but this is a debate which I suspect will go on for a long time to come!

Anonymous said...

Fine article - eloquently stated. Simply put, Lilleshall or Clairfontaine? Training with/against Desailly or Woodgate? Being managed by Wenger or Allardyce? As Bilic said, 'Wake up' England. The constant chirping about being the best league in the world, though true financially speaking, needs qualification. Just look at how defensivelly EPL teams tend to play vs Arsenal. How can a league that tries to defeat good football in such a crude manner be the best?!?!? The whole system from 6 and 7 year olds to the Senior players, to the FA itself needs revamping. Don't let pride get in the way. Follow the Clairfontaine model. Adopt training methods from successful nations. Send young managers abroad for a fresh view. A litle humble pie never hurt anyone.

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