Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's wrong with English football part 4

Last night's 0-0 draw at Wembley has got to be one of the dullest games I've ever seen - in fact after an hour I started doing email and wasn't looking when the Montenegrins hit the bar. Fabio was refreshingly honest to point out that England were lucky to draw.

Not there is anything surprising about England failing to break down a team full of unknown former Yugoslavs. The former Yugoslavia is one of the most successful parts of the world for producing sports stars, with an enviable record in tennis and basketball as well as the beautiful game (see Why England Lose by Simon Kuper). Montenegro - a country with the same population as Leeds, as the ITV commentators pointed out - has a wealth of players with basic technical ability, ability that the vast majority of English footballers lack. That, added to a good basic tactical sense, gives them every chance of holding off a team like England which relies essentially on headers from deadballs. And they were missing their best player, Vucinic.

The England players are unable to pass the ball  with sufficient precision, and can't control the ball adequately under pressure. These are basic technical flaws, hidden when they are partnered by more talented foreign players in their club teams. It's back to the drawing board: teaching kids to kick the ball properly would be a start. Given the FA's reluctance to invest in coaching, this looks unlikely to happen.