We constantly hear that young players are not getting sufficient first-team appearances for their clubs and that this is a fundamental reason for our lack of success at international levels..….rubbish! they’re not getting the League appearances because they’re not good enough!
We have recently seen our U/21 team lose against Norway and Israel and are told that several players who have moved up into the senior international team were missing from these games and had they been made available for this competition we would have achieved better results. Possibly so. However, the nations we played against have extremely low populations whilst we have a 60 million people here. In days gone by when playing against relatively weaker opposition it was usually a second team that was selected. At the time of writing I have just watched our U/20 international team draw 2-2 with Iraq …..like the U/21 squad, there was no single English player who had the individual quality required for games at this level and Iraq finished the game well in control. We can find a thousand excuses for our continual poor performances at all international levels, but unless we admit that we’re just not good enough we will continue to be deluded by ‘hype’ about the standard of our game.
Why aren’t we good enough? Well, in my opinion the total blame lays at the feet of our National Association……The FA. Due to their incompetence over the years, it was only a matter of time before outside business interests saw a profitable opportunity and became involved and major Companies with huge financial offerings have now gained absolute control over the game here. All aspects of football here are now overseen by the Professional Game Board in which the Premier League has the major influence. Only recently with the publication of next season’s League fixtures, the lack of concern over League games played prior to World Cup qualification matches was ignored…. and the poor old FA can do very little about it!
But returning to the lack of ‘home-grown’ playing talent here and the continuous influx of foreign imports… I don’t see any British players being signed by foreign clubs… I wonder why? The reason our game is devoid of ‘home-bred’ players is simply that the FA coaching scheme has failed to develop highly-skilled players for the game! Both coaching methodology and development playing infrastructure fail to provide a suitable and realistic ‘pathway’ from junior through to senior levels. The truth is that the FA has devised a multitude of coaching programmes without first establishing a national playing vision…..thus creating a pathway to nowhere! The ‘tweakings’ with development that are regularly offered by the FA, seemingly more as job self-justification than as positively conceived changes to player production, continues to provide nothing better than a shambles.
Oh yes, there are thousands of ‘qualified coaches’ out there who have the best of intentions regarding player development, but if the coaching methodology and game examination they are enforcing is incorrect the chance of high quality players being produced is extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, once more all will be forgotten as the new season draws near; the ‘incompetents’ will resurface from the ‘trenches’ they sheltered in during the period of highest criticism from the Press and public; they will take off their ‘tin helmets’, find the nearest ‘broom’ raise the ‘carpet’ and sweep all the rubbish that has drawn damning criticism under it and ‘hype’ will once again take over as the supposedly ‘real truth’ for all to follow…… and believe!
Oh, and we’re told it will be another ten years before we see the benefits of St George’s Park…. another job extension for those involved, but once again, like the Lilleshall National School episode; the failed Academy Scheme and the present, questionable PPP scheme, money has been spent without first laying the foundations for success. St. George’s, like the new Wembley Stadium, has been built before first establishing the real need for it. Regional Centres which people could visit with ease to study various aspects of the game should have been set up to provide a constant stream of students. Later, as sufficient numbers of ‘students’ reached higher qualification levels a Burton-type facility could have then been constructed. With a genuine plan of action and suitable venues around the country we could have produced a sound development scheme for the future…. as it is we have a National Association who have lost control of the game here; an isolated and expensive site at Burton that has no satellite development centres to feed it, and an expensive National stadium that is used infrequently.
We stumble from mistake after mistake and the general public should begin to question the planning for our national sport by those who oversee it………. they have failed in the past and will fail in the future and all the ‘hype’ in the world won’t make a bit of difference………meanwhile, thousands and thousands of our young talent will continue to go astray as greed and incompetence flourishes throughout our game.