There’s going to be a whole lot of fall out after England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008. A load of soul searching, star gazing. What I’m fearful of is that everything else other than the obvious will be blamed. The number of foreign players in the Premiership, the pitch, the occasion, the position of the planets, biorhythms. Whatever. The bare fact is that, we do not have enough players of the requisite quality to qualify for tournaments, forget winning them. We were without five of our first team last night and the holes they left were enormous.
It should be blindingly obvious to everyone that the reason there are so many foreign players in the Premiership is because they are BETTER THAN THE ENGLISH PLAYERS. Wake up. Our technical skills are woeful. Croatia gave us a lesson in how to play international football last night. Their players are not based in the Croatian league. They play in Holland, England, Italy… all over the place. If we really want English players in the Premiership in greater numbers, they have to prove themselves good enough. And cheap enough, for that matter.
It is clear that our coaching and schooling of young players is wrong at the most basic level. Youngsters should not play anything other than five a side until they are ten, or even older. Physical presence can be developed as a player grows into adolescence. What they need when they begin is to learn the abilities to trap, hold, pass, move, shield, press, control. I don’t care how fast they can run or for how long. It is immaterial. I cringe with embarrassment too often seeing how ‘lesser’ countries are so comfortable on the ball. How easily they pass and move.
There is a reason why Owen Hargreaves is the best technical player in the England side. It is because he learned to play football in Germany.
You do the maths.