Premier League – Best league in the world? Maybe. Best international team? No chance. Bundesliga – Best league in the world? No chance. Best international team? Maybe.
Over recent years we’ve all seen and heard numerous reasons and excuses as to the demise of our proud National team since the glory of 1966. For me the solution is simple, but will it change in the near future?
Money is the problem. To be more specific, the distribution of money.
The forthcoming implementation of the EPPP heralded as the answer to our problems with youth Football in this country is not enough in its current format.
Yes the Premier League and Football League will be ploughing extra money into Youth Football and I believe there are some people driving this through with real good, healthy intentions and this article is not knocking this change, it is long awaited. I just don’t believe it is enough to get us back to the top of the International arena.
We need age specific experts and career coaches from U’7-U’16 being paid a wage that will encourage them to be able to niche themselves as experts at these age groups. I believe that this is an aim through the EPPP. Unfortunately I don’t think enough will be done to make this happen.
Speaking to many youth coaches applying for the long awaited (and required) extra coaching positions being created within Academies due to the EPPP and hearing of the wages clubs at all levels of the game will be paying these coaches, it is not on a par with or in some cases anywhere near that paid for coaching Youth/Reserve/1st team players.
Hence, any coaches showing excellence working with these younger players, given the opportunity, they will (in most cases) as I and all the coaches I have grown up with, attempt to move up the age brackets to earn more money to provide for themselves and their family. Therein you end up with the vicious circle we have always had in this country of our youngest players, in their window of opportunity by the way, working with mostly inexperienced young coaches who with all due respect may not be giving our future internationals the technical work they require at that age to take us to the next level. I feel qualified to say that because looking back on my career I can be honest enough to say that when I was working with the youngest of players as a new coach I could not give those players what I would now expect them to receive to become the best they can be.
So where does this money come from? Let’s say we paid all of our coaches from U’7-U’16 for hypothetical reasons roughly the same as an average Premier League player’s wage per week, roughly £30-35,000. Is there anybody that could argue with creating this money from the ridiculous pots of cash our players are currently paid? I’ve spoken to a few senior Professional players at my club who have a real interest in the game on this matter and not one of them gave a counter argument or disagreed with the idea.
So, some loose figures (and Maths!)
Based on 20 players per squad earning £30,000+(before bonuses!)in the Premier League a week. If just £1,000 a week of this money was put into this ‘Coaching pot’:
20 clubs x 20 players = 400
400 players x £1000 from their weekly wage = £400,000
£400,000 x 52 (weeks a year) = 20,800,000
A pot of nearly £21 million.
Now let’s say each club employed a full time U’7-U’16 coach on £35,000
10x£35,000 = £350,000
£350,000 x 60 = £21 million.
This would fund 10 full time coaches on £35,000 at 60 clubs.
When we’ve also got players earning 6/7 times this nominal Premier League players’ weekly wage per week, if people are serious about making us a force again, surely this could happen, if people wanted it to!
Coaches could really get into some good quality structured practice play work such as that being currently done by John and Roger and the lads at Premier Skills. Our young players could go through a curriculum of technical and tactical work so that we end up with a conveyor belt of young players ready to show excellence on the world stage.
Regardless of money, the coaching must be of the highest order and recruiting the correct coach for each age group is vital. At 16yrs old the players must then be passed onto coaches working with the same philosophy to continue their education up until they are ready to display ‘unconscious competence’ at the highest level.
I strongly believe we have everything in this country to be great once more. The money, the coaches, the facilities, the know how, the culture, the players, the structure, the desire, the history. Who is going to pull it all together to make this great Footballing nation great again.