World Cup 2014

By John Cartwright

Firstly my overall impression of the 2014 World Cup was ; teams’ needed large numbers of players back to defend and there was little attacking quality to break down these defensive high numbers — so lots of negative passing and ineffective effort in the vast majority of games. Sorry, I can’t accept the ‘pundits’ reasoning that this was the best World Cup ever. Did they have their eyes shut before, or were they in their nappies when greatness was truly displayed in previous World Cup competitions? ‘Hype’ not honesty ‘ruled the roost’ in commentaries as money and greed deflected Media opinions from actual to hypothetical.

England and Italy in action at Euro 2012

Let’s state once and for all,  MEDIOCRITY  IS NOT GREATNESS”. Once we clear this illusion from our football mentality we might begin to establish a platform from which we can start to build a real football future for this country. England’s team in Brazil – part ‘The Golden Generation, part the New Hopers’, displayed as usual, their inferiority against even average quality teams that resulted in coming bottom of their qualifying group and making an early exit from the competition. Our so-called ‘greats’ showed once again that they are far short of this status and in so doing provided this nation with yet another ‘wake-up call’ for urgent and positive action to remodel our coaching methods and development infrastructure.

Germany, won the Cup because they had better players and were well organized. However, one could not say that this German squad were anywhere near the quality of the German winners of the past. Argentina, had Messi, but even he failed to exert much influence in games in which receiving space was limited and team-mates seemed hesitant to pass to him in these tight situations. It might be necessary for Messi, to remodel his game and play in a more forward role to effect more 1v1 opportunities and penetrate the space in behind ‘pushed-up’ defensive tactics.

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Brazil, were an absolute disgrace. They lacked quality going forward – never a Brazilian problem in the past, and they were ‘horrific’ in defence. Has their nation’s economic improvement quelled the desire for football stardom, or has the migration of so many Brazilian players into foreign football dulled their individualism? Whatever the reason the Brazilian Football Assn. has, like us, a great deal of re-thinking to do.

There were several other nations who showed flashes of football quality, some through individual talent, and some through team performance. Holland, Belgium displayed some excellent combinations of both whilst other nations relied on either an individual to effect the game, or lacking individual quality, relied on hard work and team play; Columbia and Chile were examples of  individual talent whilst the USA displayed a whole-hearted team performance.

A World Cup year should display the summit of playing standards around the world. It should bring to everybodies attention the top playing standards in the game as provided by the best players and teams of the period. This World Cup lacked the ingredient of greatness that has been such an important part of so many of the World Cup’s of the past. Attention diverted from this by the ‘hype’ and avarice of the Media must not camouflage the necessity of individual greatness in the game of football and for that individualism to be seen by the world’s football fans in competitions at club and national levels.

For us the job of putting things right must be undertaken IMMEDIATELY and RUTHLESSLY; the failed methods and complicated theories ingrained for decades into our football thinking and beliefs must be discarded and a new approach to the development of coaches and players that coincides with a new playing vision must be installed. The ‘tweakings’ to the old methods must stop – they have failed miserably and we must act with courage, intelligence and determination to put our ‘football house’ in order for the coaches players and fans of the future ——-or they wont have a football future !!                

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51 thoughts on “World Cup 2014

  1. Hi John, you’re so right! a world cup with dramatic incident and lots of goals doesn’t mean that it was great!

    Only Chile and Colombia impressed me and Spain for about a 30 minutes. Holland were very well prepared and the only team attempting to manage games but at times I felt they were ultra defensive and they struggled to create and only effective on the break. But a shadow of the 70’s Dutch teams. Belgium also effective on the counter attack but lacked quality in midfield (Witsel & Feliani). Brasil seemed to leave some key players out that could have at least lifted the weight of Neymar but even just allow them to pass the ball – but yes they were a disgrace. Scolari seemed to mould a team on emotion and yet forget about the most important thing – SKILL! Surely Kaka, Robinho and Coutinho could have added even a little traditional Brasilian magic? On paper Germany’s victory is being labelled great – as the first European winners in South America were they beat Portugal, France, Brasil and Argentina. Truth is nobody tested them for long periods except maybe Ghana, a game Germany looked weak as a result and had shaky moments against Algeria. Why didn’t France have a go at Germany? Why didn’t Scolari devise a tactical plan against Germany considering Neymar’s and T.Silva’s absence?

    Messi only showed flashes throughout tournament and he actually was better 4 years ago in WC 2010 in terms of his dribbling and link up play but didn’t score so was regarded a flop in South Africa. One thing that is certain with Messi was his lack of fitness at the World Cup. On numerous occasions he held his knees after his runs with the ball, walked a lot and vomited in the knockout matches. Maybe I’m biased towards him but I also felt sorry for him in that he played in a poorly coached team. Argentina’s full backs never got forward after the group phase and none of his teamates were willing or weren’t to taught to play intricate passes to him in central pockets. Poor movement from teammates meant he couldn’t link. This plus his and Ageuro’s poor fitness and Di Maria’s injury resulted in a 1 man attack. Having watched the Argentinian comparison of Maradona in 86, Diego was in a team far better coached allowing him to blossom with Burrachaga and Batista feeding passes to Diego and Valdano’s movement. Maradona never shy to state his 86 legendary moments does go on record in his El Diego book stating that he didn’t win the World Cup single handed and that Bilardo moulded a functional team that got the best of his skills. Despite Messi’s lack of fitness and possible arrogance to only operate centrally, did Sabella create a team that allowed Messi to produce greatness? Great World cup players of the past have always been in well coached teams no? I was disappointed with C.Ronaldo, also in a weak team but renowned for his goal scoring he seemed to choke with those 4 clear cut chances v Ghana. Had he scored those easy chances Portugal would have progressed on goal difference. Another player who is labelled a great but does he really possess the level of skill of a Di Stefano, Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, Ronaldo (BRZ) and Messi. Athletic, pace, direct, can hit long range shots, clincal and devastating on the break but even more reliant on others. He understandably got very frustrated against USA and Ghana and dropped deep in central areas (a position he doesn’t have to drop into at club level due to Real’s spending power) and he really struggled – unable to receive on the half turn and loose control in a more congested area. Against a high line on counter attacks he is lethal and normally clinical when chances are put on a plate for him. A very good player and better than most, but a great? He backs up what your really saying John, if C.Ronaldo is the world’s best or a great then we are in era of truly ordinary players.

    England received praise in some quarters for trying to play, apparently attempting a possession style. However the same problems still existed where highly paid so called greats were unhappy to not play in their so called position and the positioning was atrocious. There was no apparent style of play – AGAIN! Gerrard and Henderson played together but they were not deployed in the same way/style that they are by Rodgers. We could go on and pick negatives in other teams, players/coaches but the World Cup must be the benchmark for football were teams attack with style, spontaneity, magic and effective penetration to unlock compact teams and produce high class INDIVIDUAL defending like Baresi, Beckenbauer, Moore, Scirea. Unfortunately international football is littered with teams that play the same way. Get men behind the ball and look to score from a transition. There was a time world cups produced Hungary (50’s), Brasil, (58, 62, 70, 82), Holland (70’s) France (80’s) – true greatness. Only Spain in the recent era have attempted to show courage and produced an identity that resulted in greatness!

  2. To be fair to the World Cup just gone none of these arguments are in fact new!! Where have you guys been for the past decade…?! But for a few name changes the identical criticisms could be made of the 2002 shamefest where the worst German World Cup side in history made the final. N.B. Their worst ever team lost to one of England’s worst ever two years previously. My goodness we all have short memories…! That 2002 World Cup showing had been preceded by Real Madrid’s ninth European Cup triumph(Zidane’s famous left foot volley) and from thereafter nothing else seemed to matter…. France were poor/uninterested, Italy too defensive, Argentina mediocre, Spain defensively vulnerable although offensively sometimes electric. The Argentinians were so poorly coached that they managed to lose to England!! Brazil stood out but only sneaked past England and Turkey by the odd goal.The football playing standard was quite low and the refereeing a total joke. I had not seen such an appalling World Cup and subsequent tournaments thereafter have struggled to ignite. Germany 2006 was a little bit better and the new philosophy of German football had begun to emerge. The rise of the Champions League (and Copa America) has meant that international football now undoubtedly plays second fiddle. Forgetting the ridiculous hype of FIFA, most ‘star’ players are arriving to these tournaments burnt out both physically and mentally. It is only the sponsorship deals and filthy additional lucre that is motivating these players to turn up…. This is not just an English problem but has affected the Brazilians, Argentinians and Italians too. We must all get real and realise that there is a much deeper malaise at the heart of professional football and until the absurd influence of oil money is eroded there will be little hope for the world game. Maybe Monsieur Platini is the answer, a total legend as a player. Can he save the game from itself? Only time will tell….

  3. Great post as usual John BUT you seem to be viewing past World Cups through slightly rose-tinted spectacles. Modern footballers are absurdly fit professional athletes compared to just 20 years ago so it is mightily difficult to accurately compare eras. England although woefully underprepared are now light years ahead of the era of the likes of Carlton Palmer, Andy Sinton and Geoff Thomas..! Moving forward through the English nadir of Euro 2000 we still had players the calibre of Danny Mills playing in a World Cup…! It is not the fault of the current players that they grew up in an era with such a paucity of educated coaches and with no serious róle models still playing. We should simply give them a break from the vitriolic media lashings. After all they did not create the behemoth that is the English Premier League; that came after thatcherism and BSkyB.
    The general standard of international football has dropped over the last two decades as the ‘Superclubs’ have emerged… You are so right about the media hype this time round; it was frankly almost pornographic. However, in my opinion, the last three World Cup tournaments since 1998 have been fairly weak and uninspiring. The ‘top, top’ players are generally not committing themselves wholeheartedly and the tactics used by many national coaches(not just the English one) have contradicted the natural styles of the better players. Two nations have bucked this trend despite having strong leagues and also exporting star players. It can be clearly seen how the Spanish and Germans have evolved through blending their youth coaching style to that of their relatively new national identity and insisting on essentially the same playing structure from boys football in the academies, through the U-21s and right into the first team. Of course they also have the highest number of properly trained & qualified coaches so it is not merely an accident that they have dominated the last 8 years… With some of your expertise and guidance the next generation of coaches need to be brought through and educated not just in football but also in physiology, psychology, dietetics and leadership. Our broad playing identity needs to be codified and fixed right from age 7 upwards; then we may stand a chance once English players reach the age of 20-21 and are fixtures in their first teams.

  4. Hi KRam. Thanks for the reply. You make many interesting and correct points; the spread of money culture that tends to lessen interest and effort by some at international level in particular.
    I go back to the 1958 WC and remember so many truly great players. We have failed to demonstrate quality at the top of international football with both individual and team performances. I fully agree that lack of developmentt vision and infrastucture have brought failure. ‘Hype’ has elevated mediocrity to false levels of undeserved ‘greatness’ that becomes exposed as inadequate when set against even the lesser nations of the football world.
    Unless we begin to remedy our football ills we will continue the downward standards our game provides.

  5. I think we all agree that the World Cup was greatly over-hyped. This was a commercial operation to make sure that millions of TV viewers kept tuned in so that the numerous sponsers had their brands fully in the public eye for a month.
    We now have the start of another example of over-hyped activity – namely, the Premier League. The ‘Match of the Day’ highlights programmes this weekend revealed a lot of very ordinary play, all dressed up, of course, to look spectacular and unmissable. I only judged by highlights, but the best football i saw was from Southampton, a club decimated during the summer from top to bottom, in their match at Liverpool.
    Returning to the World Cup, a big problem has been the fact that the last two tournaments have been in countries where the real enthusiasm for the game is still with the poor, under-priviliged people. There was no way that they could afford the match tickets so they were not in the stadiums and this robs the World Cup of its true meaning. I remember in 1966, when the World Cup came to England, everyone was excited about the chance of seeing the world’s great stars in action ‘in the flesh’. It wasn’t the possibility of England winning the trophy because of home advantage; it was the sight of Pele, Garrincha, Eusebio, Seeler, Rivera etc on English pitches that whetted the appetite of football followers.
    FIFA must address this problem when they award tournaments to third world or developing countries. In South Africa white people are more interested in cricket and rugby and they attended World Cup matches because it was a major event being held in their country. The vast majority of Africans, with great enthusiasm for the game, could not afford to. In Brazil millions of people still live in favellas and that’s where generations of players have come from. Many of these favellas are run by drug gangs, but in the cities where World Cup matches were played, the police moved them out for the duration of the tournament and it gave a false impression. They were put into favellas away from World Cup matches and it just shifted the problem, it didn’t solve it.
    In South Africa they had a special ticket for African nationals costing £14 equivalent.But since the average monthly wage in the townships is £30 for the whole family, then that was still not affordable.
    Throughout history football has been the peoples’ game. But the deterioration in playing quality, it seems to me, has coincided with the ignoring of this fact and the game, at the highest levels, being turned into a money-making machine.

  6. I think that Costa Rica deserve some credit for their performances in the World Cup in which, against all expectations, they reached the quarter finals, where Holland only beat them on penalties.Although their performances were built mainly on extemely well organised defensive play and in a World Cup we really want to see exciting, flowing attacking football, then nevertheless good defensive play is still part of the game. In the match against Holland, they completely frustrated a team with some of the world’s most exciting attacking players. The way they marked Robben was highly effective. Everyone knows that he plays on the right so that he can come inside with the ball on his stronger left foot. But Costa Rica, time after time, forced him to go down the outside, making him play on his right foot. I don’t think that I have ever seen Robben forced into this situation so well, either for Holland or Bayern Munich.
    The Central Americans also set up a highly effective offside trap which caught the Dutch out by what seemed like a record number of times. Again, I agree, this is not what we really want to see in the world’s premier football tournament, but leading teams like Holland, when they are set these problems, must show that they can come up with the answers. The fact is that neither the Dutch players nor van Gaal, on that night had the answers, and I did not think that that the way the Dutch coach set up his team, or used his substitutes, revealed that he had solutions to the problems. The goalkeeper substitution was partly a stroke of inspiration and partly a gamble which came off, but in 120 minutes of play the Costa Ricans won the battle of tactics.
    It is an interesting thought that if drawn football matches in tournaments were decided, as in boxing, by an impartial body of expert observers and not a shoot out, then it would have been Costa Rica who would have have been going into the semi finals to play Argentina.

  7. I agree with Kram Ekosum that the last really good World Cup was in 1998. This was because there were three outstanding teams which throughout the tournament showed they were worthy of the title of World Champions – France, Brazil and Holland. They each played superb football in every match and it was a great pity that we got a disappointing Final, largely due to Ronaldo’s inexplicable health problems and the psycholgical effect it had on the team. Had Holland won their semi final against Brazil, as I thought they should have, instead of losing on penalties, then I think they would have beaten France in the Final.
    Incidentally, Sky’s live screening of Dutch League matches this season shows just how productive the youth development is in that country, especially, from what I’ve seen so far, at Ajax.

  8. Decent job, John
    There was a definite fall in the quality of football played at the World Cup. If someone told me 10 years ago that Fred and Jo would be Brazil’s centreforwards, I’d probably laugh it off. The reason for the drop in quality was the exit of some big guns in the group phase. These heavyweights were slow to get going, so they payed the price. This meant there were too many overly functional teams in the knockout rounds eg Greece, Costa Rica, and even the Netherlands. There were few thrilling dribbles, neither was anyone displaying outrageous skill, but teams were getting the job done – as boring as possible. Drama is not the same as the art of offensive brilliance. You can follow me @jOlumilua. My blog’s link is warmeveninginabuja.wordpress.com/. Cheers.

  9. Hi all. When we start to acknowledge that football’s not a simple game and begin to unravel the coaching mess that has been created here, we might begin to produce the true standards necessary to play the difficult game of Association Football.

  10. Hi John….
    One of the worst phrases to have infiltrated football at all levels in this country is “play the way you’re facing”. You hear it coming from the sidelines constantly in junior matches on park pitches and I have also heard it from the game played at higher levels. If youngsters have it barked at them from the early days of their football playing lives, then they will never appreciate the importance of playing on the half turn and allowing the ball to run across their bodies as they scan the pitch. “Checking shoulder” is one of the great calls we are taught on Premier Skills courses, as the ball approaches the recipient, having adopted the correct body shape to receive on the half turn.
    If we could banish the negative, anti-football terminology then that would at least be a start in creating the correct mindset to teach and play the game, but it does not seem like happening any time soon.

    • Hi Steve, a decent point although this term is not new. I was told the same thing over 40 years ago as a player new to club football (and seem to recall it from school games too). However, it can be turned around to ‘Face the way you want to play…’ for those that use the term. Makes those that say it think !

      • Hi Steve the Seagull….
        As John has said previously on the blog, we need a whole new vocabulary in English football. Too much of our ‘conversation’ within and outside the playing area is unimaginative and predictable, and reflects the functional, uninspired quality of the play.

  11. Great postings all. Totally agree with Steve’s view of 1998; it was the last good WC tournament and the Dutch were a touch unfortunate not to win it. Bergkamp’s superb control and finish crowned a lovely tournament. Ronaldo was mesmerising despite playing with an injury and very nearly dragged his team to the title. Of course evidence of FIFA’s and their sponsors ‘black arts’ came out prior to that ludicrous final match and the world game has never really recovered. It all seems to be a great pretence and driven purely by marketing; FIFA are complicit in this and seem almost immune from criticism. The top players do not seem truly interested in the playing but once the European season has re-started those same players look reborn! Of course fatigue plays its part but surely FIFA(if they were interested) would try to do something about that and ask for some manipulation of the calendar from the respective FAs….
    The partial neglect of ongoing extreme poverty by FIFA, UEFA and the superclubs is a real stain on a massive sport awash with obscene amounts of largesse….

  12. To be fair to the World Cup just gone none of these arguments are in fact new! Where have you guys been looking for the past decade..? But for a few name changes the identical criticisms could be made of the 2002 ‘shamefest’ where the worst German World Cup side in history made the final. N.B. Their worst ever team lost to one of England’s worst ever two years previously. My goodness we all have short memories…! That 2002 World Cup showing had been preceded by Real Madrid’s ninth European Cup triumph(Zidane’s famous left foot volley) and from thereafter nothing else seemed to matter…. France were poor/uninterested, Italy too defensive, Argentina mediocre, Spain defensively vulnerable although offensively sometimes electric. The Argentinians were so poorly coached that they managed to lose to England!! Brazil stood out but only sneaked past England and Turkey by the odd goal.The football playing standard was quite low and the refereeing a total joke. I had not seen such an appalling World Cup and subsequent tournaments thereafter have struggled to ignite. Germany 2006 was a little bit better and the new philosophy of German football had begun to emerge. The rise of the Champions League (and Copa America) has meant that international football now undoubtedly plays second fiddle. Forgetting the ridiculous hype of FIFA, most ‘star’ players are arriving to these tournaments burnt out both physically and mentally. It is only the sponsorship deals and filthy additional lucre that is motivating these players to turn up…. This is not just an English problem but has affected the Brazilians, Argentinians and Italians too. We must all get real and realise that there is a much deeper malaise at the heart of professional football and until the absurd influence of oil money is eroded there will be little hope for the world game. Maybe Monsieur Platini is the answer, a total legend as a player. Can he save the game from itself? Only time will tell…

  13. HI all. In my humble opinion, international football as we know it (only official nationals represent their country) will change to the team that has won their own domestic premier league. This might be good for us as with the increasiong number of foreign players in our game we will eventually have no players at top level to select for international matches under the present system. Money rules the game—clubs don’t seem to want international football and likewise players don’t either.
    Eventually, the Euro Champions League will become the World Champions League taking over from the present World Cup. Wait and see—-remember,money rules everything!!

  14. Hi all, some interesting comments about the previous World Cups and the massive media and FIFA influence. The change from the European Champions Cup to the UEFA’s Champions League where teams could compete for Europe’s top prize in club football without winning their domestic league coinciding with the rise of SKY has changed the game. At this point less powerful countries at international level who could compete at club level (Anderlect, Ajax, Benfica, S.Bucharest many more) have suffered as their best players are signed up by Europe’s Super clubs.This appears to have had an effect on international teams playing styles and having a true identity.

    For me USA 94 was the last good World Cup for the reason it was the last tournament where we had teams playing with their national football identities – a World Cup however looked down upon because of where it was hosted. Although it was the last World Cup where the so called stars turned up and actually performed well (Romario, Bebeto, R,Baggio, Baresi, Maldini, Stoichkov, Hagi, Bergkamp, Kilnsmann) as well as many lesser known players who played very well. Maybe not won by a great team or nor was it a World Cup with a great team but there where some really good games not based on drama but good attacking fearless football (Brazil 3-2 Holland / Argentina 2-3 Romania / Sweden 2-2 Romania / Italy 2-1 Nigeria / Italy 2-1 Spain / Italy 2-1 Bulgaria / Bulgaria 2-1 Germany / Belgium 2-3 Germany / Germany 3-2 South Korea/ Argentina 2-1 Nigeria). Though Argentina got knocked out early, their football at times was superb and ultimately suffered mentally once Maradona was banned after the Nigeria game. I think this World Cup is often criticized due to being remembered for 4 factors – the poor final where Italy sacrificed their attacking play due to fear of Romario and R,Baggio’s injury picked up in the semi forcing him to play with a strapping on his hamstring. The second factor being England didn’t qualify so the media coverage was more in the direction of Rep. of Ireland and the actual tournament. Finally the host nation, nobody really agreed with USA hosting the tournament and therefore had an anti mentality towards the event and ever since. It was a disappointing final but had both teams taken their clear cut chances it may been a different story and it was a shame Brazil’s coach Periera was not brave enough to bring on the young 17 year old Ronaldo. However Baresi was immense in the final.

    France 98 in my view was the first World Cup which introduced the over hype from media. I agree the Brasil team played some lovely football under Zagallo and ultimately where unfortunate in the final with strange circumstances before the game which destroyed them psychologically and created disorganization which allowed Zidane to profit with 2 headers – a player I felt who actually was poor throughout the tournament and is now propelled by so many as one of the all time greats. Holland played well against Argentina and the brilliant Bergkamp moment vs Argentina covers up his disappearing act in the semi’s and earlier games vs Belgium and Yugoslavia. I felt France were very fortunate, functional, dull and helped influence the 1-4-5-1 system or 1-4-2-3-1 as we now call it. After negotiating a weak group and Zidane suspended against Paraguay they struggled to break down a park the bus Paraguayan set up. But once Zidane returned against Italy who also defended, the Italians shackled Zidane and unfortunately for him he was not in a team that was built with fluency like the famous 1980’s French midfield quartet. But the French won on the lottery of penalties. After going a goal down against Croatia, France were fortunate to equalize immediately after a Boban mistake on the edge of his area, Zidance quiet again. I wonder if France would have a created anything against Croatia if they were 1-0 down for a longer period and the effective Croatian counter attacks. Yet the media hype around Zidane’s 2 goals in the final overshadowed his general play and France’s style throughout the tournament. France’s 1998 World Cup victory has almost erased the memory of the brilliant football by the underachieving 1980’s French team. I wonder if Holland had won WC 2010 with their anti football if the 1970’s Dutch team would be forgotten? Even though Ronaldo played really well in France 98, he didn’t reach the heights of his domestic Barca/Inter form due his knee – but in many Brazilian quarters Rivaldo was actually regarded as Brasil’s best performer in France 98. 4 years later Rivaldo was superb again in WC 2002 and yet his consistent World Cup performances are forgotten.

    We are in era where the media, the football powers that be including Nike and Adidas have a massive influence on players and people’s perceptions of tournaments and player performances. It was roundabout the time of France 98 that Nike and Adidas grabbed superstars and started using players to market their brand on another level and at the same time help the public and media place players on false pedestals. I just watched a documentary on Michel Platini, played in a different era yes but what heights did he reach! Before Messi he was the first player to win 3 Ballo d’ors in a row at a time when Zico, Careca, Socrates, Falcao and Maradona played in a very tough Italian league and he scored 9 goals from midfield in only 5 games at Euro 84.

    John I agree with you that we are heading for a European or World Club Cup/league. With the rise of the super clubs, rich owners and America now tying to embrace football due to the marketability of Super Clubs we are likely to see the World Cup become small like the Europa League and maybe we will see countries hosting month long international tournaments with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester City etc…. quite depressing really!

  15. Hi all….
    Yes it is is a depressing prospect for the future of the World Cup, and all other international championships, as John outlines. I think that the answer must lie in education. When the young players are coming through the various international teams at the different age groups, it must be instilled in them that whatever fame and wealth they achieve in the game, the greatest honour is in representing your country. In the recent World Cup the players of the ‘surprise packet’, Costa Rica, showed enormous pride in wearing their national colours and upsetting the form book as they did. Rarely in the public eye, unlike some of the big names in more fancied teams who fell by the wayside, they deserve great credit for what they achieved. Even if those players never advance any further in football with the relatively ordinary clubs they at present play for, they will remember those games they played in Brazil during June and July 2014, for the rest of their lives.

  16. Steve – to touch on your brilliant point about “play the way your facing” it was so evident in Jordan Henderson’s level yesterday against City. Henderson has improved so much under Rodgers within the last 9 months but yesterday where he moved into good positions or pockets to receive forward passes from Gerrard or the back players or if he received horizontal passes from Johnson, he was unable to receive on the half turn. Had he been able to receive on the half turn he would have had scope to touch move into a forward direction putting the powerful CIty midfielders on the back foot against the nimble Sterling and Coutinho. Instead he killed the possibility of midfield penetration by passing the ball in the direction he was facing – ultimately backwards and playing the way he was facing.

    Coutinho in comparison received a pass on the half turn yesterday where he let the ball run, leaving Y.Toure wrong footed forcing the powerful Ivorian to foul the Brazilian because he would have been bearing down on Kompany in a 1v1. It may be too late for Rodgers to teach and install the half turned body position into Henderson’s game? Henderson like many pro’s from these shores and at youth level has probably been allowed to go through his youth football education where coaches have used phrases like “play the way your facing” thus molding players with bad habits.

    Then to make matters worse the Sky pundits with their artificial studio and fancy large touchscreen gadget where unable to notice or did not highlight Henderson’s inability to receive on the half turn – a point that should have been made considering they stated the obvious that Liverpool were unable to penetrate or create a lot. Instead they nip pick on defensive errors week in week out even though one of the pundits was a coach for England during the dismal World Cup performances where the English defending was amateurish.

    Too many bad habits are installed in players due to phrases like “play the the way your facing” or “get stuck in” or certain players are wrongly stereotyped due to physical attributes or being left footed. So many children at grassroots level that are left footed are pushed to left sided positions and are never given the opportunity to play inside or from the right – thus not allowing the child to pick up and learn good habits/skills.

    I was critical of Zidane and Bergkamp earlier but in truth they were players with exceptional habits in terms of awareness, body position, caressing passes, aerial ball control and using different surfaces of both feet. Bergkamp played street football but a large chunk of his education also came from Ajax where he was molded based on the clubs style of play. At Ajax they use many small sided games that are designed to develop the playing style. Zidane learnt the bulk of his trade on the streets of Marseille. The Premier Skills methodology educates by installing a game style via street football esq small sided games creating an environment where the children/players can only really have success to a good level if they learn good habits and hear educational phrases from the educator.

    Having used the Premier Skills methodology more religiously in recent weeks with children I coach – I have noticed they are picking up good habits, erasing bad ones and their level of understanding is improving.

  17. Hi Dav….
    I think that the sooner players are introduced to playing sideways on – in the half turned position – the better. Just passing the ball against the wall and returning it – it should be done in a half turned body shape. So many young players grow up playing square on, their feet pointing forward as they prepare to address the ball and opponent with the full front of their body. It is relevant in both attacking and defending situations. The defender who does not get his shoulders round so as to confront an opponent in possession with one foot forward of the other, invariably is beaten as he he is not in the best position to jockey. Defenders, and keepers, in the penalty area, preparing to deal with a cross, often fail to get their shoulders round, so that they are pointing across the pitch and they are then able to check for late runs into the box from the opposite side of the pitch. Defenders not doing this are often caught ball-watching and pay the price when the other team scores. Midfield players like Henderson, in the example you describe, must receive on the half turn or else, as you describe, they lay the ball back unneccessariy in a situation when, if they had turned, an incisive pass through the opponents’ defence could have been played and a goal scored. But the split second lost by unneccessarily playing an ‘easy’ ball results in the situation being lost.
    Strikers not playing on the half turn give defenders an easy game. No defender likes to be up against a forward who plays on his shoulder and adjusts himself into a half turned position. Not only is the forward getting out of the defender’s vision, but he is adopting a body shape best suited to winning a sprint to get onto a through pass played in behind the defence. The Premier Skills methodology also works on getting a forward who is marked by a defender to drop into space for a pass, but on an angle away from the marker, in a manner referred to as “opening the curtain”. The forward opens up a space between himself and his marker or, if the defender follows, a space is opened up in the opposition defence.

  18. I think that Teddy Sheringham hit the nail on the head in an interview he gave to the ‘Evening Standard’ last week. When the issue was raised about another poor England performance in the World Cup, the point was made about the heavy work-load heaped on the England players during the season resulting in fatigue and muscular injuries and the failure to introduce a mid-winter break.
    Sheringham replied that these continually expressed opinions were rubbish. There is little difference between the number of games an English player plays in during the season and his counterparts abroad. The difference is in retaining the ball. If possession is continually being given up due to poor ball retention skills then the English player has to expend so much energy chasing around in an attempt to retrieve the ball. As Sheringham said, everyone loves to play with the ball. When you are keeping possession you feel as though you can play all day. Tiredness and exhaustion result from being out of possession for long periods, losing control of the game and endless unproductive running to try and get the ball back.
    We must instil in our young players, especially in that early 5 – 12 years age group, that taking charge of and governing the ball is vital. I still see too many instances of passing and shooting drills done with chidren of this age. Physicality is still prioritised in the small-sided games played on junior pitches up and down the country each weekend. Too many parents still want their children to be given an outlet for physical exercise above all other considerations when they play the game. Of course, the physical exercise element is vital in today’s sedentary society and child obesity, but parents must be aware of the subtle skills and inventive qualities required for playing football and demand that these requirements are met when they take their children to a junior club.
    In my opinion, if a coach working with chldren has been trained in the Premier Skills Coaching Scheme, then he/she can meet these demands. But I am not sure that a coach, relying on the FA Level 1 instruction, and even the more recently introduced Youth Modules, is really equipped to perform the enormously vital task of introducing young children to the game.

  19. Hi Steve. Just finished my Yearly ‘MAKE-OVER’ sessions with a new College intake. Their athleticism was astounding in every respect —- skill levels were not as high as they should be —but the biggest problem was ………they lacked game understanding, so little of their plus qualitiies was able to be used in a positive way…….after 10 years of coaching!

  20. Previous World Cups perhaps were the pinnacle of the game where the best players from each country were put together in the National team and therefore the quality of play could be expected to be better than individual club sides.

    With the advent of the globalisation of the game, however, the best players gravitate to a combination of glamour clubs and financial reward (understandably) and so the CLUB sides now have the greater playing quality in the major leagues across the world.

    That being the case, the club football we see on our TV screens, virtually every day of the week, is, probably, the best standard of modern play today. I am not necessarily talking about The Premier League here, though that is a very good league with some of the best world players on display, but also from Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and so on.

    Of course, international club football with The Champions League, Europa League (to a lesser extent) and World Club Championship all perpetuate the club football exposure and where the best players play with and against each other.

    So, the World Cup may now be at a reduced level than the club competitions for the reasons stated above. In times past where the game was less globalised, was on TV less frequently, players tended to stay within their home environments (not all of course, Alfredo Di Stefano and John Charles as just two examples who plied their trade in other countries) and play for their own countries’ major club sides. So when coming together, the national sides had greater quality than most club sides (which may have had one or two excellent players mixed with just good pros).

    However, the picture is now reversed and that is one reason, I believe, why World Cups now seem of less quality than previous tournaments.
    Added to this, I also feel that there is some element of nostalgia and selective memory coming to play on personal recollections. For example, my own passion for the game was ignited by the 1966 World Cup as an impressionable 10 year old. The game was rarely on TV and watching the game was therefore not as much an option then (aside from the local team on a Saturday) as now (7 days a week on TV). However, I did play the game at the park and in the school playground as often as possible.

    So, 1966 was my ‘ignition’ but the World Cup 1970 was an explosion on my senses. The benefit of having a colour TV for the first time, the proliferation of materials to promote it (BBC magazines etc), the exotic location of Mexico and the fact that England were defending champions as well as possibly seeing the greatest Brazil team win in style in the Final cemented my obsession with the game.

    I still feel that 1970 was the best World Cup I have seen. But is that ‘true’ or is it my nostalgic view of things based upon some of the factors above, my increasing awareness of ‘the game’ at the time (but just a fan) and the fact that football was still rarely live on TV and that therefore this was an ‘event’ in every sense of the word?

    However, at that time, the national teams were, probably, providing the best quality of football available to a viewing audience.

    So the global picture has changed but is that taken into account when we consider whether the standard is better or worse than previously?

    From my perspective I would disagree with a large number of observations above that the games were over hyped which in turn affected our interpretation of what we see, whereas in reality they were of a poor quality.

    I certainly didn’t watch all the games available, but the ones I did see were, generally, quite exciting and, especially in the early group games, I felt that we saw a return to more attacking intent than some of the, frankly, turgid, sterile and fear-ridden games I have seen in previous World Cup group matches.

    As the games progressed and as I would have expected, I felt more caution crept in and certainly some of the later games saw more pragmatism as the consequence of a loss become absolutely definitive.
    But, I would suggest, that is now normal.

    Individual games had more or less quality, for sure, but I personally thought, generally, that it was one of the more exciting World Cups I had seen for quite a few years.

  21. Hi Steve thr seagull’ Excitement does not camouflage the poor quality of the majority of the games –it may be exciting watching a house burn down but it isn’t something that one wants to see. We must demand better playing qualities; by remaining satisfied with ‘hyped’ mediocrity we will continue to fail at all international levels. We must firmly establish in our football psyche what is top class and what isn’t…at individual and team levels!!

  22. 1954 OUTSTANDING 
    1958 EXCELLENT
    1962 GOODISH
    1966 POOR
    1970 EXCELLENT  - last tournament with 16 teams
    1974 GOOD
    1978 BETWEEN POOR AND GOOD
    1982 NOT QUITE VERY GOOD
    1986 LEANING TOWARDS GOOD
    1990 MAINLY VERY POOR
    1994 ALMOST GOOD
    1998 GOOD
    2002 ALMOST GOOD 
    2006 ALMOST GOOD
    2010 POOR
    2014 MAINLY POOR BUT exciting in part!

  23. Hi Steve The Seagull….
    I also consider that the 1970 World Cup was the best that I have seen and it was won by a truly great Brazilian team.
    I recall that before the tournament a great deal of anxiety was expressed in the media about the quality of football likely to be seen due to the effects of the Mexican heat and games being played at altitude. In the event, these climatic conditions actually enhanced the quality of football because it had the beneficial effect of slowing the games down. So it was impossible for a northern European team to brush aside less physically imposing opponents by dictating a 100 mph pace for 90 minutes. Resting in possession had to be employed with bursts of quick play when such situations had been developed.
    But European teams proved that they could adapt to the conditions and so the 4 semi finalists were split between South America and Europe – Brazil, Uruguay, Italy and West Germany. England also played a good World Cup and, I have always felt, were much better than in 1966. Who knows what would have happened if Gordon Banks had been fit to play in the quarter final against West Germany?
    One thing is sure: Brazil’s most difficult game in Mexico was the group match against England.

  24. Hi all. Well once again i was present to see the possible ‘distruction# of another talented youngster. This youngster was exciting; quick and tricky, penetrative on the ball and with his passes, and hard-working in att/def. Being young his decision-making was not perfect, but with care could be improved, but after over-dribbling and losing the ball his coach shouted “pass the ball” and shortly afterwards substituted him. Here was a youngster who has an almost unique ability in the English game being sidelined to become a mere mediocre player. What a tragedy for the boy and for the game! When will we applaud individual ability and allow it to flourish? Never, if we continue to produce coaches with no real game understanding nor the teaching qualities that includes patience and vision

    • Hi Brazil94 No is the naswer to your question. It would have not been possible in the situation this occured. But how much i would have liked to!

  25. Hi John….
    If English football is ever to recover from its present depths of stagnation, then the criminal waste of talent that you recently witnessed must be addressed. The almost total dismissal of individualism has been going on for generations and so we have now reached this situation where there is almost a complete absence of what were once known as ‘natural’ skills. Of course, they never were natural, in the sense that no player was ever actually born with the skill of a Messi. Matthews or Garrincha, but were developed in the environmental conditions prevalent at the time; i.e. street football and endless hours of game play due to social conditions no longer relevant to most parts of the developed world.
    Where most coaching falls down, as in the example you describe, is that coaches have not been educated to coach their young players to ‘see beyond the first opponent’. Consequently, the young player you saw was probably successful in his first confrontation with an opponent, but having beaten him he lost possession when a second defender came to challenge. He had not looked beyond his immediate opponent, most likely because he had not been coached to do so. So our young players who have dribbling ability must be coached to ‘plot their route’, to see beyond their first opponent by getting their ‘eyes up’. Probably the coach of the boy in question, was delighted that his talented player beat the first man but was angry that he then lost the ball to the next opponent who came to challenge and so demanded that he should pass the ball, no matter what.
    In my experience, only the Premier Skills methodology has pin-pointed this aspect of coaching and the phrase ‘plotting your route’ brilliantly sums up the vision and mind-set which we want a talented youngster to have.

      • Hi Steve. This was a young player in the development stages. He will follow so many others who have gone before him unless he has a defiant spirit —George Best / Paul Gascoigne are examples of players who defied our development malaise.Only problem they were unable to control their ‘rogue spirit’ outside of the game.

  26. I thought that Liverpool gave a great performance at Tottenham on Sunday. Because they are now coached by Pochettino, Tottenham press the opposition severely in all areas of the pitch. But i thought that Liverpool were superb in evading the pressing by moving the ball around with great speed in these areas, thereby neutralising the effect of Tottenham’s pressing. When Tottenham dropped back then Liverpool slowed down their passing, drawing Tottenham out and hitting them with piercing counter attacks.
    Since Brendan Rodgers has been coaching Liverpool the English players, Sterling, Sturridge, Gerrard and Henderson, plus a few others who are on the fringe of the 1st team, have all improved considerably. There is no use moaning about the influx of foreigners in the Premier League, even further underlined this week by the enormous transfer deals. Rodgers is proving what can be achieved with good coaching and the intelligent development of the talent which is still out there. Of course, Liverpool have the finanacial strength to bring in some of the best foreign talent, but Rodgers is coaching and motivating the English players to meet the challenge of winning a 1st team place in the face of such competition.
    Maybe too many clubs have given up too easily on English players. Perhaps they have not tried to stretch their young English players enough, simply believing that they are not good enough and never will be. Perhaps Rodgers has said to the English contingent “go on, you can be as good as them”. At the moment, they are proving that they are.

  27. Hi Steve. I have fought terribly hard over many decades to try and bring the message that you make; we have talent but the teaching is wrong.

  28. The game in this country has failed to recognize the need for real quality players in back positions. These players have more ball possession than any other part of a team and are generally the worst users of it. Not until we start to develop real all-round players in back positions will we begin to operate more successfully at club and international levels.

  29. In England we still have the mindset that players at the back are essentially there to stop the opposition attacks and clear their lines. Junior matches all over the country have the weekly scenario of the biggest, strongest players positioned at the back who, following their successful challenge for the balll, give it a fierce whack up the field, getting it as far away from their goal, and as near to the near to the opposition’s goal, as possible.
    Many years ago, I recall that when West Germany switched Franz Beckenbauer from midfield into the sweeper role behind the defence, this was met with incredulity by many people in this country. “How can a player of such talent and ability be switched into defence?” we asked. Even though Beckenbauer revolutionised that position, by bringing the ball out of defence and creating overloads in the attacking areas of the field, have we ever developed our own version of an English Beckenbauer?
    The answer is no because the name of our game is still ‘safety first’.

  30. The increase in teams for the Finals of the 2016 European Championship means that England, having got off to a good start with a 2-0 away win against Switzerland, are already well on their way to successful qualification. With the Under 21s already booked for the Under 21 European Tournament next year, expect the clamour for reform of our current playing standards to die down in the near future.
    Because the European Championship is now a bloated competition consisting of 24 teams, there is a good chance that they will safely progress from the group stage into the knock out rounds without too much difficulty. But as soon as England meet the higher tier nations, such as Italy, Germany, Spain and Holland, then their exit will predictably follow.
    England rode their luck in Basle and there were a few good individual performances, but I thought that the tactical changes that Roy Hodgson introduced will need much more work before we can take on the leading nations with any kind of confidence. The Dutch, Spanish and Germans, with greater game understanding, would, I feel, have adapted to tactical changes a lot more quickly.

  31. The brilliant Italian coach, Arrigo Sacchi, was recently asked by the FA’s coaching magazine, ‘The Boot Room’, to name, in his opinion, the four most outstanding teams in football history. He listed them in the following order, but no further comment was made regarding his selection:
    1. Brazil (1970)
    2. Hungary (1954)
    3. Holland (1974)
    4. AC Milan (1989)
    Looking at his choices, Brazil swept all before them when they won the World Cup in 1970 with an attacking football style that enchanted football followers all over the world. AC Milan, coached by Sacchi himself, were clearly the outstanding team in Europe in the late eighties, with a string of European Cup successes, when their pressing, attack orientated style destroyed the man-marking ‘catenaccio’ tactics which had ruled Italian football for many years.
    It is interesting to note his choices of Hungary and Holland because the years that he quotes, 1954 and 1974 respectively, were the years when these two teams actually lost in their World Cup Finals, although very unfortunately in both cases.
    Usually, when a selection of ‘best ever’ players or teams is made, it is a pre-requisite that the chosen ones were the Championship or Cup winners in their respective eras. It is clear that Sacchi is looking for something deeper than just who lifted the trophy. Hungary, in the early fifties, revolutionised tactics and team positioning, as England found to their cost at Wembley in 1953. The fact that this Hungarian team, on the day, ran out of luck a year later, in no way diminishes their place as a truly great team. Similarly, Holland in 1974 produced a style and playing method which was to have long lasting influence on the way the game would be played in the future. Not least on Sacchi himself, as he took the ideas he saw from the Dutch in that World Cup into his coaching career and his AC Milan team was built and developed along the same pressing, attacking style.
    I should imagine that the absentee likely to provoke the most arguments from this list would be Barcelona (2009 – 2011).

  32. John has often commented on this blog about the need to vary the playing styles depending on the tactics and approach adopted by the opposition. Looking at the first few matches of Barcelona in La Liga this season, following the arrival of new coach Luis Enrique, there is evidence that is happening at the Nou Camp. Passes are often longer and the ball is put into the back of opposing defences more often. The signing of midfielder Rakitic from Sevilla seems instrumental in this because he looks to play long passes earlier than previous Barca midfield players did. He is a good player but he seems to me to be leading to a change, or at least a variation,in game style.
    There was an interesting insight into the neccessity to change game style, depending on the opponents’ approach, recently in the Germany-England Under 19 international. There is now a determined effort by the coaches working at various age groups of the England youth teams, to impose a shorter passing, more measured build up from the back, from the keeper, into the back players and through the midfield and then into the front players.
    During the match against Germany, the opponents prevented England successfully playing out from the back by pressing high up the pitch and strangling England’s game style in the early stages. Stewart Robson, who was assisting with the commentary, made the point that the England players, and coach, must be aware of what was happening and “look beyond the pressure”.

    . If there was now a lack of space in the defending third to successfully play out from that area, then there must be space further forward to utilise. Consequently, the neccessity was now to revert to a more direct approach and play long to the front man, i.e.playing over the pressurising opponents, with the midifield players getting forward quickly in support.
    After a while, England did adjust to these circumstances and showed an ability to vary the playing styles.
    I think that the ability to vary playing styles will become more and more important in the future and so there will be an end to teams having its own brand of play when it has to change styles during the course of a single match, depending on the response of the opponents.

  33. Hi all Being able to assess playing possibilities by our ‘head and kick only’ defenders is a rarity. With the ‘over-fascination’ with possession football back players have more of the ball than anyone else in a team — unfortunately they don’t have the playing ability to exploit situations as they occur!

  34. Hi John….
    As you have stated a number of times recently, our teams at all levels are wasting a lot of ball possession because “back players have more of the ball than anyone else in a team – unfortunately they don’t have the playing ability to exploit situations as they occur!”
    Playing out from the back is one thing, and a number of teams can be seen to be getting their defenders to receive a short throw from the keeper and try and work the ball forward through the thirds in the build up down the field. This is fine, but we are not working at producing overloads, where back players move forward as the move develops to create numerical superiority in areas higher up the pitch. As I pointed out in my last posted comment, some teams are trying to play out from the back even when the opponents are pressing high to prevent this and should now be looking beyond the pressure to recognise space further up the pitch in order adapt their game style with, when necessary, a longer pass to the furthest striker and then quickly support him from there.
    One of the problems in English football has always been that we don’t allow the players to make decisions and problem solve themselves.The coach too often thinks that he must be seen to be controlling the players through every second of the match: he, not they, makes the decisions. I recall that one of Ron Greenwood’s favourite sayings was that we, the coaches, “should give the game back to the players.” In other words, the players should have the intelligence, invention and imagination to solve problems as they occur in a game and if a particular game plan is not working,or is negated by the opponents’ tactics, then the players should be free to look for the answer themselves and so the tactical or game style change, comes first of all from within the team itself. If the team struggles to effect this change in approach then the coachh can intervene to make the necessary adjustments.
    I saw a Championship match last week in the West Midlands where it was clear from the first few seconds,(i.e.from the way in which they took the kick off), that the home side played very much in the direct, percentage game style. In fact you could have been watching a match played in England 25 – 30 years ago when a number of teams, playing an extreme direct style, achieved considerable success. But the longer the game went on, the more clear it became that the aeriel, direct route was not going to bring any success. But still they persisted and long before the end it was clear that the three points would be going to the visitors.Almost every time the ball went back to the home keeper the back line sprinted forward to the half way line, pushing every one else up with them. But they stayed in a line without the full backs even venturing forward on an overlap or to create 2 v. 1 situations down the line. I think that the left back only ever crossed the half way line to take a throw in.
    We cannot have such one-dimensional playing style in what is the second tier of our football pyramid. The team in question actually had a few players of ability and one or two had played in the Premier League. They did not have to play like that but it requires a variation in game style. If the direct approach brings success then that style is working and in some games, in certain situations, then the approach is valid. But if the approach is leading nowhere then there must be a change and the players must be flexible enough to make the change work.

  35. I am told that in Italy children are made aware of game management before they work on technical skills: it is the first thing they learn. Keeping a game won when they are ahead by walking from the field and not running when substituted, substituting a playing on the far side of the field, resting in possession, playing keep ball in midfield areas to run down the clock. These are all strategies which young Italians, and no doubt other nationalities, are schooled in from a young age.
    Game management is not cheating but part of a young player’s education in game understanding. In England we have not yet understood this, and many consider it wrong and somehow cynical, but we don’t mind that in many instances we are still delivering a game style based on power and speed with an over emphasis on a direct playing style.

  36. Hi Steve. You are correct about the difference in development methods between here and so many other football nations. Our biggest mistake has been —as i have said so often—- We have not set a playing vision and so the development programs that have been produced and regularly tweaked are purely ‘off the cuff ‘attempts leading nowhere. But expensive nowheres!!

  37. The massive transfer spending we are seeing at present at Man Utd is an indictment on the young player development methods in this country. Louis van Gaal has given chances to a number of young players raised through the club’s Academy in recent years but most of the results and performances, in League and Cup, have been awful. So bad that he has scoured the world for new players and had to pay huge fees to get them.
    At each of his previous clubs, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, van Gaal was responsible for introducing young players who became world stars. Clearly, the development process at those clubs was far superior, if the early indications at Old Trafford are anything to go by. Perhaps there is potential among some of United’s youth and they are not quite ready. However, I think that van Gaal has been most perturbed by the lack of game understanding displayed by many of the British players he has introduced, as shown by their difficulties to adapt to his thinking and tactics. A number of British players who were already in the first team have struggled just as badly and there were serious doubts about them before this season.

  38. Hi Steve. I saw 2 games yesterday involving players who are involved with Academy development. In each of the games one team was far better than their opponents and had scored several goals and virtually ending any chance of the opposition to recover by half-time.
    What was incredible is that in both games the winning team showed no ability to play in a controlled and commanding way but continued a break-neck speed using the same ‘crash-bang’ methods as from the start of the game. REASON: result more important than playing quality!!

  39. Hi John….
    I see so many matches in childrens’ and youth grass routes football where, if you brought the touchlines in by about 10 yards, few of the players would notice. This is because the wide areas are so rarely used. The game is played up a strip of the pitch about the width of the penalty area. The players have the mindset of taking the shortest route to goal and so often it is a game of vertical running and vertical passing.
    It underlines the key elements of Premier Skills coaching, which emphasises recognising space, developing open turns, turning away from areas of congestion into areas of space and probing for chinks in the opposition armoury until the penetrative pass can be made.

  40. Hi Steve. When i watch the game as played (interpreted) by our foreign competitors i am hugely impressed at the huge difference in quality at team and individual levels between their playing styles and our ‘fightball approach to the game. There is a terrifying lack of detail in development methods here that carries over into senior levels and despite the numerous ‘tweakings’ by our football ‘academics ‘ the problem of playing quality and standards has not been resolved.

  41. Liverpool’s 16 million pound gamble on Mario Balotelli seems to have back-fired spectacularly. His talent is unquestionable but so is his terrible attitude. His inept performance against Basle last night should result in the cancellation of at least a month’s wages. It won’t of course, but this shift in power from the manager to the player, his agent and assorted advisors, damages football to the point where it jeopardises the future of the professional game.
    No doubt the ‘old school’ managers turn in their graves at some of the antics in the game today. But really, it further underlines the necessity for improved youth development at every club and the need for patience with all managers who are attempting to put such a project in place. Many managers today say that the short termism of their appointments makes it a waste of time for them to introduce a good youth policy because the fruits of such work will not not produce the benefits until several more managers down the line. But any manager genuinely attempting to give high priority to a youth scheme must be given a minimum 5 year contract, guaranteed, to enable the fruits of the work to appear during his term in charge.
    Players who grow up and are developed at a club are much more likely to have true feelings of loyalty and pride in that club and give the maximum in every game they play.

  42. Time for a new topic perhaps – given the new season has kicked off e.g. Has anything really changed in grassroots since start of last season etc ….. just a suggestion.

  43. Hi Gary…
    In my opinion, there will not be an improvement in the grass roots areas of the game until our National Association prioritises the structure and content of the coaching given to children in the 5 to 12 age range. Only Premier Skills provides a development process which fulfils this need. Most of the 14 to 16 year olds I see who have moved forward each year in grass roots clubs, do not possess the technical skills which they should have acquired years earlier. This obviously makes the task of presenting tactical tuition to them extremely difficult when they are not in full possession of the necessary techncial skills.

    • Hi Steve. You have ‘hit the nail on the head’ once again’ about the intrinsic fault with the game here. Great to have you ‘on board’ at the LFCA. Your interest in the game, your knowledge of will be of great benefit to the Associaton.

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