Bu John Cartwright
Game-style in most other countries is closely inter-connected at club and at all international levels. In this country, the ‘home of the game’, we have failed to recognize how important this playing linkage is and how equally important it is to have an efficient organizational structure to achieve this linkage. Spanish football is a clear example of how effective club and country involvement can be with many international tournaments won by their teams in recent years.
Because our national association is so disorganized we haven’t prioritized the creation of a national playing vision and then combined both a national development coaching methodology and development infrastructure to implement that vision. Subsequently, we have watched our game flounder down numerous pathways leaving a trail of wasteful incompetence. This summer we have seen the woeful wreckage due to long-term mis-handling of our game; from the senior’s lamentable display against Switzerland through all subsequent levels down to u/17 we have shown a total lack of both individual skill as well as poor team play. BUT THE NEW SEASON’S UPON US AND ALL WILL CONTINUE AS BEFORE, that’s the one certainty we can be rely on !
I have watched numerous personnel at the FA ‘Tinker’ with the game and achieve NOTHING. The present incumbent at the top of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking, has been in the ‘hot seat’ for the past 7 years, he has also ‘tinkered’ as well as ‘bluffed’ with development issues throughout that time but he has, like all his predecessors, achieved NOTHING. How much longer are we prepared to watch our game spin downwards at all levels with no satisfactory plan in sight to reverse the dismal playing qualities of the game here?
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO CHANGE THE WAY WE DEVELOP PLAYERS AND GET THEM TO PLAY FOOTBALL WITH MORE SKILL AND TACTICAL ITELLECT ? After many years of watching the appalling ineptitude displayed both on and off the field here, I seriously doubt we can. Gross arrogance combined with fear, greed and a lack of foresight make the changes required an almost impossible task to achieve. Having supplied the game of football to the world we have since stood back and watched other nations develop the game to much higher levels of skill and tactics. Our football history is a millstone around our neck when it comes to re-thinking changes to the way we play and watch the game. Fans and Press as well as those involved actively within the game are all guilty of stopping our game from going forward. Lack of understanding of what changes and how to achieve them is endemic throughout all sections of our ‘football society’.
Our national football association seems more concerned with ‘cash-flow’ than ‘flowing football’. Each year it seems a new coaching course or initiative is produced with yet another piece of paper certification to go with it. I ask a simple question, “how can football coaching programs be produced when no definitive playing vision has been set”? These ‘pathways to nowhere’ do nothing to correct the poor football intellect that infects our game. The constant arguments that follow poor displays by our national teams along with the stream of foreign players into our leagues will continue unabated until the whole sorry mess that is termed ‘football development’ in this country is demolished and re-thought.
Our kids are no worse than any other kids involved in football all around the world. The problem our kids experience and what denies them the opportunity to reach their full potential as players is the learning ‘mess’ that they are forced to endure during their ‘golden learning years’. There is a famous proverb; ‘give me the child and I will give you back the man’. Unfortunately, when the ‘football boy becomes a football man’ here, the football education they have received has curtailed their development and not advanced it!
Without being arrogant, I believe we could be leaders of world football. There is no reason other than the poor development methods that restricts the youngsters here from being the best. I have seen how quickly youngsters can respond to practice and then transfer it into match-play and how eager they are to play the game differently from the usual ‘up and at ‘em’ way that dominates our playing style. We have lost millions of great kids to the game because we have not shown enough care and attention to their football upbringing. It is about time we threw the arrogance and ineptitude that pervades so many aspects of football here and began to offer a better way forward.
Do I think we have the ‘guts’ like the Spanish to remodel our playing style and produce something that combines our national stoic qualities and combine it with the flair that our foreign opponents seem to have? No I don’t think we can; — we’re English, and football, being a ‘mirror’ of national lifestyles, our game has taken the same greedy, lazy and mis-guided route we see in so much of our society. Surrounded by incompetence at all levels, how can the world’s greatest game be displayed here as anything other than a shabby, ‘fightball’ interpretation of it!