By John Cartwright
It seems the FA International Committee, have ‘sidelined’ their Coaching Director’s DNA Philosophy of Performance formula. In a recent meeting it is said that England teams follow the ‘playing script’ of the incumbent Manager and that a coaching formula such as Ashworth’s, is not required.
Nevertheless, I believe we should recognise the importance of establishing a suitable game-style that incorporates the ‘best of British with added Continental trimmings’ and is playable throughout our domestic football and transferable into international levels.
We must begin to teach our players from their earliest days to be individualistic. Irrespective of position, players must be comfortable on the ball and have a deep understanding of the game’s options in both def/att. situations. Their playing quality must be exhibited by their ability to recognise playing opportunities to select and then perform either individually or combine with team-mates as part of the team ‘pattern’ during a game.
There is often ‘heated’ discussion on whether Direct Play or Possession football is the way ahead and we have lurched between various versions of both over many years to find a suitable playing style. The answer to this ongoing puzzle is simple; we need to use a combination of both that can be utilised according to the dictates of a game.
To play attractive football is something to be earned in a game, it is not something easily acquired and must be keenly fought to achieve against robust opponents…..the British style. Once earned, players must be able to act positively both in recognising individual opportunities or to combine effectively with team-mates…..Continental ‘trimmings’.
The selection of an international squad should consist of players who are highly skilled and have football intelligence. They must be capable of activating a ‘flexible’ playing style as mentioned through regular domestic competition. A playing method founded on skills, enhanced on regular domestic qualities and defined tactical adaptations would improve playing standards over time and increase the confidence, know-how and ability of all involved…..coaches/players …. Fans.
It is the job of national Team Managers’ to pick players who can provide skills and awareness to bring a domestic game-style together for success at international levels. The vision of a playing ‘mixture’ of British/Continental – direct/possession is not an impossible dream to achieve……. we almost have the basics of such a playing style already but do not have the belief or knowledge to combine both aspects correctly in my opinion.
By ‘tallying’ together a ‘flexible’ game-style played by both our clubs and national teams —- as almost everyone else in world football does, our players would be more confident by playing in a familiar way….. international Managers would remain in their roles for longer than at present……..and we might win some silverware along the way!