It’s a Tuesday night in the middle of November. A gentle mist hovers over the tips of the grass, as the rain begins to beat down on the tin roofs of the old Baseball Ground. Fingers frozen to the core, little feeling in your feet, but the warmth of the thousands of voices around you cheering on the team you love the most is enough to keep you coming back.
Football is a necessity of life. With it you survive. It gets you through the week, the months, the ups and the downs. Yet without it, us who live and breathe it become lost.
So why is it that so many men and women up and down the country feel this way about what is merely ‘just a game.’
Well many would argue that we, the English, created this game. Made it our own and created what is today the most watched and played game throughout the world.
Then why is it that we, as a nation, year upon year fail to perform at a major tournament let alone come close to winning one. With a population of over 50 million the pool that is available to select elite players from is large to say the least. Compared to nations such as Croatia (4Mil) Portugal (10Mil) and Austria (8Mil) numbers aren’t scarce and neither is the talent available, but the way in which these smaller nations manage their talent means the players which they produce at an international level are ‘elite’
These countries as well as the French, Germans, Spanish and Italy they prize their young assets. They don’t over work how good they are. They don’t attach insane price tags to their heads. They put them in the first team from day one and don’t mess about with academies or loaning players out. If they see talent they encourage it and nurture it as much as possible. We over price, over complicate and over expect.
England teeter on being good, however for the most point they hover over being bang average.
After another embarrassing exit from a tournament, Roy Hodgson’s reign as England manager came to an unsurprising end following a woeful performance to fall 2-1 to the hands of Iceland. Yes Iceland.
On and off the field England are so far away from winning anything anytime soon.
For me the only nation you can follow suit of is Germany. The World Champions and Euro Semi-finalists have shaped the way of modern football. It focuses on breeding through young, exciting players. Tactically they control games with such ease, keeping possession but more importantly creating chances and always looking to go forward. They have a coaching staff who believe in their players and a group of professionals who play for and with their country.
The English are idol. They arrive with their headphones on, faces fixated to their phone screens and are too good to even acknowledge the small group of fans outside the arriving bus. They bring a lot of the bad press upon themselves and it’s their own fault they are portrayed the way they are.
Most of the squad seem so detached from the real world it’s embarrassing. Take Raheem Sterling for example. One of the worst (if not the worst) England player at the tournament found it necessary to release videos of his multimillion pound house just to remind all those who aren’t international footballers how lucky he is.
This is both arrogant and embarrassing. But it isn’t only young Raheem who acts this way.
The pressure of a whole nation, who have been waiting and praying for tournament success since the 60’s have seen failure after failure despite the so called rise of the English Premier League. Although this doesn’t paint the picture of reality. The rise in standard isn’t down to the English players but the increase of foreign talent, all be it the likes of Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Joe Hart and Jamie Vardy have had stand out seasons in the league, but then why did it all go wrong on the bigger stage.
Ok, over 40 games in the season they play well, a few blips along the way but the leagues a marathon and not a sprint. This luxury though isn’t allowed at these tournaments. If you don’t show up in first three games you go home, end of hopes. Simple.
At the minute this England side is a bunch of egos and nothing more. No leadership, no guts, no passion and no formula.
We lack a cutting edge we miss a born and bred patriotic captain. A manager who can complement these egos and bring them down to earth. Realisation needs to be kicked into these players as other nations progress quicker and develop more thoroughly than what we are.
So where now?
For me the FA needs a massive shakeup. Academies need to be re-structured, if not dismembered. Premier League outfits should be required to field a minimum of three English players on a match day. Coaching courses she be more affordable to encourage British coaches to learn and develop at a higher level.
The next manager has to be foreign. In an ideal world he’d be English but they all breathe in the same football philosophies. We need something new. A clean slate, different ideas from someone who hasn’t been smothered in the FA’s plans to carry out the so called ‘England DNA’ which is complete BS if you ask me.