By John Cartwright
Well, the time between the disaster in South Africa and the start of domestic ‘ hostilities’ here has been filled with all the usual ‘garbage’. The proverbial carpet has once again been quietly lifted and the vast majority of the vitriol emanating from our abject WC displays has been swept under it and ‘soft’ international matches have, once again, ‘resurrected’ our national team from the pits of performance to potential world beaters.
Alan Hardacre, a former PFA chairman, once said after a previous poor performance from our national team, oh, give it six weeks and all will be forgotten as the new season begins.” How right he was; that is what we have done time after time over the years and this time is no different. The problems caused by football here continuing to employ such dirty domestic habits eventually causes dangerous situations to arise; the dirt swept under the carpet becomes thicker and thicker causing the carpet to lift up so that one trips over it and injures oneself, and the dirt becomes the breeding ground for germs and disease. That is where our game is now, — injured and disease-ridden! Without ‘doctors’ with sufficient knowledge or ability to tend to the problems, ‘quacks and charlatans’ are expected to dispense the medicine to our game.
Standards set here for individual ability and team play that are accepted as high are in fact only the standards of mediocrity. Poor playing quality throughout all levels of the game here over the years has been highlighted time and time again in World and European competitions. Our so-called top players show, on a regular basis, that quite clearly they aren’t good enough to compete with the best. But what do we do? We go into ‘denial mode’ and sweep the problems causing our lack of playing quality swiftly under the carpet and go on our merry way — deceiving ourselves that we are better than we are! Once we accept the obvious and begin to seriously examine the problems within our game, we can begin to make progress and establish ourselves as a true force in world football. If we continue with self-deceit and denial, we could find ourselves in a hole from which we are unable to climb out of.
Our game’s ruling body the FA has never provided the game it oversees with the dynamic and inspiring leadership it needs. Consequently, our game has careered from one mistaken initiative after another leaving a trail of financial waste and time. There are numerous areas of the game in which decisions have been made that have resulted in failure, none more so than within the FA coaching and development department. It is poor coaching and development methods over the years that have failed to deal with important issues that have subsequently created the playing disease with which our game now suffers.
Without first establishing a playing vision of attractive and effective football suitable for the game here, ‘amateur academics’ have written numerous programmes that have failed to provide both continuity and substance;—– they have written routes to nowhere!
Mediocrity not greatness is the result in terms of individuality and team play. Our game struggles from year to year in a ‘fog’ of incompetence, continuously travelling up blind alleys as a result. To cover the lack of direction and poor quality on the field, a whole variety of ruses are used by all those financially ‘interested’ in the game in order to ‘camouflage’ the true paucity of quality on display. The time is now here when the saying, ‘you can fool some of the people for some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time,’ is appropriate. People are beginning to recognize the truth through all the ‘hype’ and are questioning the lack of quality being served up before them – domestically and at international level.
‘ Going nowhere coaching programmes’ provided to our players by uninspired coaches produces uninspired players who play uninspired football. From very junior levels the type and quality of coaching provided to our young players offers them scant chance to achieve their full potential as both a person or player. Subsequently as time goes by, should they continue on through the different age levels, the poor foundation work they have received requires ‘patching-up’ not progressive practice, Simple not superb is the level only attainable or expected from them. Thus the ‘papering-over of the ‘cracks’ in the development of players here has become a necessary priority throughout the whole of the time they are involved in the game.
Is it any wonder our game is in such a mess! Poor administrative organization from the top compounded by greed and inefficiencies throughout all areas of the game has provided the ‘bacteria’ for a disease that will cause death to our game. It’s time to throw away the ‘carpet’ under which so much rubbish has been allowed to ferment and make a clean sweep of all it has concealed.
Greatness, not mediocrity must be the standard set for our game from this point onwards —— but who is capable of taking up the fight and use ‘the broom and the sword’ with vigour and determination!!