By John Cartwright
It’s the 25th of May 2016 and there is still 17 days to go before the start of the Euro. Championship in France. I’m sitting on a beach in Portugal. I’ve read my Newspaper and am looking for something to do. Got it! I’ll write my ‘blog’ on my expectations of England’s performances in the competition.
Once again, everyone is saying in all branches of the media that we have a great chance of success – getting into the quarter-finals!
We have topped a very ordinary qualifying group and have played three ‘friendly’ internationals prior to going to France. I am concerned about the lack of individual cleverness in the squad; it is a young squad that does not seem to have player(s) who have that extra quality to change a game in an instant. The preferred game-style of our squad seems to be based on a simplistic possession method.
I am concerned with this ‘one style fits all’ approach for it has been a noticeable aspect in all previous international and national club competitions that the winner tends to have several individual ‘game changers’ in their squads. These players have occupied all positions and have been capable of turning hard-fought battles into victories in an instant. I don’t think we have anyone with the ability to go 1v1 on a regular basis and ‘turn the key to unlock the closed doors’ of defending tactics used so frequently in today’s football world.
So why are we devoid of this important type of player in our football? Well, throughout our game the individualist tends to be considered too unpredictable for the over-predictable playing style preferred here. The individualist has a difficult journey from junior to senior levels; teaching and development methods are inadequate and inclusion into our simplistic playing style is often not seen as necessary.
I’m now back in the UK and have watched our games in France with interest. The opening matches showed that we are an ‘ok football team’ but lack that extra special ingredient called individualism. The game v Iceland is the obvious proof of my beliefs about the mediocre standards too easily accepted by followers of the game here. We were unable to ‘unlock’ the defensive shield that Iceland set up with our simplistic football style. It was plain to see that there was a lack of tactical variations to our game-style as well as poor game understanding on the part of all involved – (slow offensive play: poor penetrative recognition: no aerial threat: no individual creativity, were obvious failings in this disastrous display. Our ‘copy-catting’ of others must end and the formulation of an English playing vision combined with a development ‘pathway’ understood by all must become a priority if we are to achieve success in major tournaments at club and national levels.
I have been a long-time critic of development and of the game overall here for many decades. The latest ‘disaster’ in France is confirmation of my stand against those inside and outside of the game who continue to call the mediocrity of our game ….. greatness!
Never mind, as always the start of a new season is just around the corner and the ‘carpet’ will be lifted and all the rubbish will be swept under it to conveniently conceal the real truth about our footballing incompetence.