I wonder how many times an article such as this has been written. I wonder how many times folk have discussed where it has all gone wrong for the England football team. Usually after every tournament I guess, especially when England leave the biggest sporting event in the world with one singular point to their name.
It’s Roy Hodgson’s fault, it’s the formation, we were unlucky. I am sure all of those views have been shared up and down the country in the pubs, on social media, and in our local supermarkets.
I think it goes far deeper than any of those excuses. The problems are woven deep into the typical English mentality.
The English do things the correct way, we do things our way and why should we change? Dads stood on the sidelines and screamed at their children to hit it forward. “CLEAR IT!!!” don’t do anything fancy. We don’t do fancy you see, it can be viewed as weak. Tricks is a form of fancy and it isn’t something we do around these parts. I mean did you ever see the likes of Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard or Michael Owen attempt an Elastico?
‘Elastwho? any of that stuff around me and that player is getting a good kicking’ would be the old fashioned English response I’d imagine.
Players like Glenn Hoddle and Matthew Le-Tisser did not have anywhere near the rich international careers their talents clearly deserved back in the 80s and 90s, mainly because their individualism did not fit in with rigid straight lines of English football. It has taken a few shuffles forward since then while many, many countries have taken huge strides forward when it comes to technique.
When you have Steven Gerrard blasting balls out to Danny Welbeck on the wing you have to ask yourself why? Why in 2014 is Gerrard still trying to play Hollywood passes out to a tall striker out of position? Why is possession still so alien?
Simple passing and moving still looks so awkward, far more awkward than it should do. A little like your granddad attempting kick ups after a few drinks at Christmas. It looks unnatural when it should be the norm.
I would have preferred the England manager to have selected a squad of his youngest and most technical players, players with big potential and used this tournament as a chance to create a team for the long term. Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Kieran Gibbs and perhaps even Adam Lallana (in place of the injured Oxlade-Chamberlain) would have been starters for me. Many of those players are not ready to make England into challengers but they might be one day.
So what is the long term answer? I am no expert but in my opinion, the culture has to change. We have to screw up the past and leave it there. We need to praise being fancy and frown at booting the ball out of touch. We need to encourage small sided games, we need to allow young players to make mistakes when trying to keep the ball in tight situations.
It is time to follow our European cousins, South American counterparts and pretty much everyone else in the world when it comes to footballing education. I’m sure changes have already been made that I am unaware of and if that is the case then I look forward to the future. If lessons have not been learnt then these conversations will continue for another 20 years. If so, see you after the European Championships 2016.
Written by the wonderful Linus at @ArsenalVision