Our Woman’s football Fails To Impress

I have just watched England’s women play Spain’s women in the Euro Championship.  If anybody doubts the mis-direction of coaching that has taken place in our country over the past decades they should watch our ladies.  Where they could have followed a different path in the learning and playing of the game they have gone down the same route as our men’s game and all the same mistakes in both individual and team play are clear to see.  In comparison, the Spanish ladies, who were supposed to be less experienced and accomplished, showed the individual skills and team-work that have been part and parcel of the successful Spanish men’s game over the past few years.


Anybody interested in development must see the how coaching methods here that have derailed the playing quality of our men’s game has produced a similar effect on our ladies game —- notably, the same lack of individual creativity and a tactical system ‘set in concrete’.

I wrote a ‘blog’ some time ago that criticised our ladies for using the same ‘copy-cat’ methods as the men’s game and that they would experience the same problems as the men.  The coaching format through which our ladies develop has produced the same disturbing inability to create skilful players for their game as is so obvious with our men. This lack of skill reduces confidence when under pressure; limits running with the ball and passing options; and reduces the use of more free-flowing tactical movements — just like our men!

I have been a member of a very, very small ‘club’ of coaches who have tried to signal to those in charge of our game that their coaching methods are steering our game in the wrong direction. The use of those same coaching methods by our women have produced the same failings in their game and are conclusive proof that our coaching methods do not, will not produce the standards required for the production of high quality players to play the game at the highest level…….. so when are we going to do something RADICAL (not just tweak) to the disastrous coaching and development methods we have ‘burdened’ ourselves with?  Never I expect!


18 thoughts on “Our Woman’s football Fails To Impress

  1. Whats the problem ?
    England are doing well for a 2nd tier football team at the National level, qualifying seems to be the limit of ambition at the moment.
    The FA seem happy to accept this standard as well.

  2. Totally agree, whats the point of going x games unbeaten in qualifying/friendlies and then not being able to perform in tournaments? The lack of technique and composure on the ball under pressure and in tight spaces has a massive knock-on effect psychologically i.e. fear of failure leading to choking. Not sure what the answer is though, for everyone like you that tries to do things the right way there must be a dozen old school coaches/managers sticking to outdated and inappropriate methods. Lets hope it changes, after all people used to think the world was flat!

  3. The coaches “who just don’t see it” normally add that football is all about winning. Well, their methods are not doing much of that either. The style of football we play is boring & as the Premier League knows it doesn’t produce success in football matches. They voted with their feet years ago by importing foreign players, coaches & managers. Remember we were second rate apart from a few notable exceptions long before the formation of the Premier League.

    From my experience of knowing young players & their parents who have direct experience of the England Girls/Ladies development path, the coaching & selection criteria are very similar to the Boys/Mens being just as archaic & out of date.

    Time to clean house.

  4. The warning signs have been there since the last world cup you only had to watch the french and japanese girls teams then to see the route they were taking.. I have watched a lot of the womens euro and have been to watch england women play on a number of occasions .. They had up until now been more effective than our men . Unfortunately there game style is to close to our men for my liking. They are showing the same flaws as the men…..

    my daughter is in the system and my frustrations in what i was watching lead me to research premier skills, coerver coaching and brazilian soccer schools,
    coaches in the centres of excellence, academies have come through the fa coaching schemes which are not good enough. If they are not inquisitive enough they will not keep educating themselves and trot out the same dross… I have now done youth modules 1and 2 and so far have have been underwhelmed. To much time spent in classrooms not enough time spent on the field with the coaching materiel, not enough detail. So unless your lucky and have a coach who understands individualism the focus will still be on team play before individual development, if the coach does not allow for creativity and self expression then how are we going to create these players that have the skills set that trevor brooking talks about.. When am i going to hear skill being talked about more than fitness athleticism and hard work which seems to mean running around in a scott parker style chasing anything that moves and these players being lauded for there passion as if that will win us the world cup…
    Why can’t hard work mean working hard on improving your skill set in a time and space stone
    I previously wrote on this blog on completion of fa level 1 and 2 that the prem skills on field coaching content in level 1 was superior in detail and I had to attend it two more times because of the amount of detail being shown to us… and this is on a course that only runs for 4-6 hrs…

    Lets start a campaign to get John Cartwright , Glenn Hoddle ,Terry Venables , Chris Waddle and John Barnes to set the Philosophy coaching education and content..
    1966 was a long time ago and we are going backwards .
    where are the creative English players who know how to combine with others, play under intense pressure are imaginative, exciting and get you of your seat… Men or Women
    If they are not there then it’s our coaching systems fault

  5. I have been watching the Womens’ Euro Championship on TV and the gap between the technical skill level and game intelligence of the English compared to France, Germany and Spain, is just as great as in the mens’ game. Clearly our coaching structure is in need of total overhaul and reform.
    But our tactical limitations are just as weak as our technical shortcomings. Last night Denmark overturned the form book by beating France, albeit in a penalty shoot-out. But it was no fluke, because although the stats were heavily in France’s favour, Denmark set their team up well and France were not able to produce the elegant exhibition they had done in their previous match when they beat England 3-0 and it could have been 8.
    England were far too open in midfield against France and did not rectify the situation until far too late. The brilliant French no. 14, whose name I forget, was allowed far too much space to produce her skill and England were torn apart. But Denmark closed up those midfield areas from the start and the no. 14 had her least effective game of the tournament.
    It seems unbelievable that we still get ourselves in situations in midfield when in the centre two of our players find themselves up against three of the opposition and when the oponents are individually far superior in tecnical ability, then there can only be one outcome.

  6. Shocking !!! how long were they left 2v 3 in midfield with the wingers wingless and clueless and not narrowing up and dropping back to create overloads when needed… they stayed rooted to their sentry posts the wingers staying high and wide. tactically inept, poor decision making and the calls from the bench shocked me the most with hope Powell Doing an impersonation of Stuart Pearce seemingly not knowing how to solve the problem and micro managing the players actions and decisions … It could be heard loud and clear on euro sport.. Just like in the last World Cup when she was shouting for the ball to be knocked over the top… When an injured Kelly Smith could not run for it.. A hope ball
    It’s Embarrassing how poor we are and I am starting to laugh out of embarrassment
    If it goes on much longer I will have to start watching cricket

  7. I would like to say that womens/girls football does provide a breath of fresh air, from what I have seen as a spectator and experienced as a coach, with regard to the total absence of diving for penalties and free kicks, feigning injury and writhing in agony to get opponents sent off, as is so prevalent now in the mens’ game. The other night in the France-Denmark quarter final, there was just about the first really bad foul that i have seen in a female game, and the French culprit should have been sent off for a potential ‘leg-breaker’, but this was an exception to anything I have ever seen before. As the TV commentator said, had this been a mens’ game then the referee would have been immediately surrounded by angry players, but in this game the players accepted the referee’s decision, though it was a terrible error on this official’s behalf.
    In international womens’ football, the game style of the Spanish, French, Germans’ etc is the same as that of their men. You could tell their country even if they did not wear the national shirts. Another reason why a national game style must be developed in England and introduced as soon as possible.

  8. What a disappointing football summer we’ve had; men’s U21 finishing BOTTOM of their Euro 2013 group; men’s u/20 finishing BOTTOM of their World Cup 2013 group; women finishing BOTTOM of their Euro 2013 group. DOESN’T SAY MUCH ABOUT OUR DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM DOES IT! Still St George’s will change all that ……. in 10 years time…….. i don’t think so.

  9. Hi John…
    I recall a few years ago, on one of the Premier Skills courses, you mentioned that you had attended a coaching event where the the top man in English cricket development had been invited to give a talk explaining the considerable improvement in English cricket performance. I remember you saying that when he was asked to give the main reason for English cricket’s improvement, he said that for years the coaching in the cricket academies had been woefully sub-standard. All the county clubs were told this in no uncertain terms and a total overhaul of the coaching structure was immediately implemented. The results of that overhaul are now plain to see in the results of the England cricket team.
    Why does no one in a similar position in football as this supremo in cricket, not stand up and shout out the same home truths of our game from the roof tops? Just how bad does English football have to get before someone at the National Association grasps the nettle and really tells it like it is?
    Dan Ashworth is the new top man at the FA and, by all accounts, a man with the right ideas. But is he going to say that the Academy coaches have let down English football for generations and decades of English international failure and ineptitude is the result of antiquated and inept coaching methods? What else can explain our almost total inability to produce real talent?
    What would constitute a total overhaul of our academy coaching structure? Well, for a start, we could get rid of 75% of the academy coaches and just let the kids play. I’m impressed by the approach which has been explained on this blog of the coaching methods at MK Dons. Let the kids just play games in tight areas, small-sided games, and then varying the numbers on each side so that one team has an overload on the other. All the time playing in tight areas, so that youngsters must play under pressure from the earliest days.
    Having got this simple approach going at all clubs in the country, then the Premier Skills method can gradually be introduced. A structured and methodical coaching scheme is now introduced but the Premier Skills one. All coaches in academies would do the courses to keep their jobs and as a result a national playing style would come into being. I understand that all the academy coaches at Birmingham City FC are put through Premier Skills courses and quite soon we would have an increasing number of like-minded people coaching the game and then there would be progress.
    It’s not rocket science, just plain common sense.

  10. Hi Steve. Significant change to our development methods requires a complete re-fashioning of present thinking. Money has been squandered on present, failed methods and FEAR envelops many of those throughout the system who would need to re-start the qualification process.

  11. The new season is almost upon us; those who have contributed to our dismal football failures over the summer will re-appear from the ‘trenches’ in which they sought shelter and begin to sweep the latest ‘football mess’ they created under the carpet……….. All will continue as before….such a pity!

  12. After the end of the the televised Womens’ Euro Final on BBC3 yesterday, the former German female international who was on the studio panel, on being asked the German secret after yet another German internaional football success, said, “yes, our player development is so good. All the German national players, when they retire, work for the Federation in coaching and developing the young players.” The other two former female internationals on the panel, both English, said that the way forward for England, after a very disappointing campaign, was to promote young players and work towards the future.
    Both suggestions were good but did not explore the problem deeply enough. We know that the German system of development is excellent but exactly HOW is their coach education superior to ours and if, as I suspect, it bears a closer resemblance to the Premier Skills methodology than the FA Coaching Scheme, then to what degree is that the case. Secondly, as the former English internationals said, it is time to look at younger players, but the important question is, is that potential being developed as well as it could be and, if not, what is our National Association going to do about it?
    These are the vitally important questions to be asked in both our male and female football.

  13. Hi Steve. The German ladies would have received an excellent football education and thus would be able to develop future potential players….therefore continued success!. Our older players have been associated with a development process that is unable to provide the high standards required for the game…..therefore contiued failure!

  14. In the football tournaments which we have had on our TV screens this summer – UEFA tournaments for U21, U19 and Women, and then the FIFA tournament for U20 – I think that it has been noticeable that some foreign coaches have adapted a couple of ‘English methods’ into their approach.
    One has been the use of the long throw into the opposition penalty area for a tall player to win the aerial duel and head for goal or, alternatively, glance the ball on for a team mate to arrive at the far post to apply the finishing touch. Secondly, there has been frequent use of long, diagonal cross-field passes when breaking quickly, to create 2 v 1 situations on the opposite flank.
    Neither of these features have been used slavishly, but in certain instances when the situation was on and there were chinks to exploit in the opponents’ armoury. Good foreign coaches know that there are good qualities in the English game which they can introduce and, similarly, we must work much harder to introduce the qualities which many of us so admire in the best of the continental teams.

  15. Hi Steve. As i have always said, “Britsh beef with Foreign fantasy” When combined there would be nothing to stop it. It’s all in the Premier Skills playing methodology and has been from the start.

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