Monday, June 28, 2010

What's wrong with English football part 2

A crucial first step would be to downgrade our expectations from where they were until last week - roughly on a par with those of the populations of Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy - to where they more reasonably should be: somewhere between Slovakia and Japan. No wonder England's players - who are after all pros who have played against most of their German tormentors in club football - can't cope with the pressure. They are simply expected to deliver the undeliverable: as Paul Hayward points out in today's Guardian, the 1966 final was the last time England actually beat any of the big national teams in a World cup. In reality, this team is the Blackburn Rovers of international football, and my guess is the players actually know this.

The second point would be to teach coaching seriously. The most terrifying statistic I've read recently (OK, not really worse than deficits and unemployment rates) was that whilst there are 2,769 English football coaches with the top UEFA qualification, Spain has 23995, Italy 29420, Germany 34970 and France 17588. Is it any wonder England defended like schoolboys? In sport, as in anything worthwhile, success requires training, discipline, concentration and consistency. How could John Terry and Matthew Upson be fooled by a goal kick straight down the middle of the pitch, or Gareth Barry be completely dazed by Germany counter-attacking after a failed England free-kick? These are the basics, and somewhere along the line they have to be drilled into players so that they become second nature. Our players, even our best players, lack the basics, and are made to look better than they are because they play, week in week out, with others who have them.