By John Cartwright
Are we blind, or have we become so consumed by ‘hype’, or are we the ultimate naïve football nation on this Planet? Do we really believe that our latest ‘disaster’ in International football at UEFA 2012 was in fact a success by reaching the knock-out stage? I’ve heard the words; Pride – Team-spirit – New generation – 100% effort …. Etc. etc. I’ve heard it all before …… many times after failure at various playing levels ever since Hungary thrashed us 6-3 and then 7-1 back in the early 1950’s. What I haven’t heard is that our players aren’t skilful enough and are tactically inept. In recent years there has been a demand for players’ to ‘keep the ball ‘ more at international levels; how this is supposed to happen so easily when the ball is ‘given away’ with almost complete disregard in our game season after season simply defies logic.
The performance of our present crop of players in at EUFA 2012 displayed all the old problems but ‘hype’ continues to camouflage the true extent of the difference in playing quality between us and our foreign opponents. The recently failed so-called ‘Golden Generation’ of players that provided little more than a ‘yellow stain’ on football, is now followed by a newly ‘hyped’ group who might be referred to in the future as ‘ The Platinum Players’ by some non-playing but ‘vastly knowledgeable’ Media person. Will these this new group of ‘mediocrity termed great’ fare any better than those gone before, I very much doubt it, ‘Platinum’ will be merely ‘Tin-foil’ when displayed under the bright lights of international competition.
Don’t blame Roy Hodgson, for the playing mess that can best describe all of England’s games’ in Poland and Ukraine. The only criticism that can be laid at Roy’s feet should be his acceptance of a job that does not give him total control over the whole of football in this country… from junior development to senior international football. Being pragmatic is fine, but when pragmatism is essential to cover inadequacies in our playing and understanding of the game, it reflects an unhealthy future.
The Coaching department at our National Association must be held responsible for a continuous lack of both coaching and playing talent. The various ‘Heads’ of coaching here have all failed to realize the importance of individual skill teaching and learning. Football is NOT simply a team-game, it is a game about individualism and the ability to combine skill with team-play when necessary. The conjoining of individualism with team-play is a gradual process and should be carefully introduced and developed throughout the whole development process.
Our senior players continuously display both a lack of individual skill as well as an inability to vary playing styles and tactics. Attractive and effective playing methods are unavailable to those without the playing ability to produce them. In their place a simplistic playing style is necessary for simple players to execute. This is where our game stands in World football now and has been for many, many decades. Our game is ‘buckling’ under the intense involvement of TV and its media and game associates. The continual ‘hyping’ of inferior quality is gradually undermining the true and necessary standards for top performance of individuals and teams.
Prior to the beginning of the Second World War, Winston Churchill, attempted to alert the people of this country to prepare for war. Football has exchanged ‘bullets for the ball’, but the ‘football war’ between nations is still a passionate ‘conflict’. We are unprepared for these ‘battles’! Unless we begin to re-educate our coaches, players and FANS of all ages and levels to accept the need for improved playing standards in our game, we will see the present ‘gathering storm’ of international demise increase to produce a ‘hurricane’ of failure in the not-too-distant future.