Broken football – focus on fixing the real problems

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Debate surrounding the state of English football’s been rife recently, with many of these conversations now being muted a little following England’s qualification for next year’s World Cup. But whilst England’s immediate woes might have elapsed, there are real problems that continue to hinder the future of our national game, at every level. A matter that the Football League’s chairman, Greg Clarke, believes has reached a ‘crisis point’. I agree.

The Premier League product is throttling the English game

Since 1992, the Premier League’s developed into a fantastic, global product that brings a fortune into the UK market, no question about it, and I’ve loved my career in it. A powerful brand that other markets want to buy into. Unfortunately, despite this wealth, the Premier League remains focused on its economic growth, it’s own product and brand, often at the expense of the wider health of the game. I don’t think this is unusual for any corporate machine – no different to a Microsoft or Coca-Cola. And whilst the FA’s shown encouraging signs of improving the game at a grassroots level this week, the FA have little influence over its prized asset, the Premier League, they at best only have the ability to fine and ban players. They get little more than a seat at the boardroom table of a much bigger corporate machine, which they created.

Greg – please clearly define the problem before you fix it!

Our country’s inability to produce more homegrown, global stars is alarming. Greg Dyke must take an honest view on the quality and quantity of players currently coming through the ranks. The issue here starts with asking the right questions and defining the problem before you go trying to fix it (if only our national leaders would do this, too). Instead, the FA commission is currently proposing the introduction of ‘B teams’ in the lower leagues, which would be catastrophic to an already struggling homegrown system. I don’t see how applying early ideas makes sense when the actual issues don’t seem to be clear. I’d be more incline to discuss the FA thoughts, on the development of coaches, particularly the importance of nurturing great coaches. As it stands, there’s an obvious void in this space for younger coaches and it needs addressing. But that’s for another time.

A lose-lose-lose-lose scenario

One of the main issues experienced during my time as a professional, is that Premier League teams are zapping the lower leagues, in particular the Championship, of their most talented and prosperous players. They’re taking players who’re destined for success and maturing at that right level, and assimilating them into their academy setup too early, thereby robbing them and the league of valuable experience. For most, academies will never prepare a player for real football, here’s why everyone loses:

  • The player: loses out on hunger and a determination as well as a valuable playing experience
  • The lower league club: loses out on income by selling early and having playing talent to help them succeed and aim for promotion to the Prem
  • The Premiership team: loses out by hindering the growth of the very asset that they wanted to be successful
  • Team England: loses out by having limited British talent to chose from and experiencing poor performances in tournaments
  • The fans: lose out because they have to sit and watch the gulf between the Prem (and everyone else) and Team England (vs everyone else) get bigger

We create a scenario for a young player where it’s ‘sink or swim’. Like a Rooney or a Wilshere, some will swim, a lot more will sink – name true sustainable, British talent from those academies – you’ll struggle, but it’s easy to name matured and expensive foreign imports – there’s too many to mention. Young players under pressure are more sensitive to drops in confidence, they are suddenly exposed in lower leagues, return to their Prem club, drop down the pecking order, they go back to their clubs again and confidence is less.

Realistic alternatives

I don’t think we will ever forbid clubs from buying young talent, it’s such an unrealistic achievement – what player wouldn’t want to play for one of the top teams after all? The FA should however, seek alternatives. Particularly, those aimed at protecting young talent from the big clubs. Whether, it’s a way of creating a breeders premium for the clubs that develop the talent and if the youngsters signed aren’t given sufficient playing time, then money’s pumped back into grassroots. Or pump some of the transfer fee back to the seller, this way they can invest in replacing their recently lost asset. A no brainer for the lower league clubs dependent on additional income.

Wilshere and Cleverley are two recent examples of an academy system working well. But Chelsea’s 20-year old Josh McEachran, who’s worked his way through Chelsea’s academy system, is a much more common example of a player going the opposite way. Despite playing 11 games for Chelsea and making his debut in the Champions’ League at just 17, he’s struggled to establish himself in Chelsea’s star-studded squad. Inevitably, McEachran’s gone back out on loan to the Championship, this time with Watford. Three different loan clubs, in three seasons and he’s only played 11 games for his parent club. Chelsea’s established themselves as a major European team, with a vast squad and McEachran’s future looks bleak with Chelsea as a result. So a permanent move to the lower leagues is probably best for the young lad now. Let him establish himself in the Championship and if he’s good enough, a Premier League team will come knocking – and pay properly for him – everybody wins.

The Championship is weak

The Championship is our second tier league, I’m playing in it – it’s an exciting league though much more like a third or forth tier when realistically compared to the Premiership. The lack of strong Champ players improving that league only helps widen the gap between the Championship and Premier League – the gulf in performance and monetary terms is now enormous.

Academy football does not prepare you for when mortgages are on the line (irrespective of the league that you’re playing in), that’s where the devilment is, when the Championship’s notorious heavy hitters want to kick the living daylights out of you and you have to find a way round it. Youngsters, who’re left to incubate in the academy have that stolen from them.

Why do the FA, The Premier League, and those Prem clubs do it then?

The answer lies in that they have different, short term, income orientated goals. It’s not right or wrong; it just is what it is. So if we’re happy with that then let’s not pretend to solve the problem. Importing lots of foreign players works too:

  • Signing names is good for the Premier League brand – a global league in every sense
  • A global merchandise opportunity at every level occurs from fans buying shirts to TV license deals selling to foreign TV stations
  • Money explodes – it’s TV, along with selling merchandise, where the income lies
  • Premier Clubs start to look at where the money comes and focus on that – gate receipts start to look small in comparison, so the local fan is less relevant in direct cash terms. It’s increasingly a global fan base, not a local one
  • Team England is an after-thought – a consequence that is hard to fix

The above scenario is not wrong, it’s just a genuine conflict of interest created by the trappings of a globally successful brand, the Premier League.

Give young players time to earn their stripes

Premier League teams are able to offer youngsters dream moves, more often than not these dream moves are nothing but a nightmare where everybody loses out. If I were on that committee I’d be inclined to suggest that we deter the bigger clubs from snatching the Championship’s up and coming stars, make it impossible even. Leave these players where they are, in lower leagues for longer, let that awesome talent of a 13-year old grow and play every week from 16 or 17, to mature properly, to get used to the life. Let those Premier League clubs then part with proper money, to pay a fair price, at the right time and pass some of that mega wealth downwards to lower leagues in the process. Everybody wins. Sure, Premier League clubs may have to fork out a few extra notes to buy a player of 16-17 years old, and currently they’re paying tens of millions of pounds for overseas stars anyway – this way you’re keeping the money in the country and within our national game.

At a time when England’s current generation of world-class players; Gerrard, Cole and Lampard, are close to retirement, and Greg Dyke’s claiming he’s up for useful change, rectifying the real issues have never been so important. The thing is, the FA needs to be prepared to take the right medicine. Over to you, Greg.

 

 

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38 comments
mdean721
mdean721

I think the problem is very deep rooted and will take years to fix, there's no simple solution such as train better coaches or give grassroots more funding. I think the problem is cultural and won't be addressed properly until at least the next generation of coaches. I think the FA need to sit down and take time creating a 10-15 year plan where they look at improving obvious things such as grassroots football, getting kids involved and help create more and better facilities. I think also in the plan they need to set about slowly changing the culture of the game in England, the style of football, and most importantly I believe, start properly coaching kids rather than managing kids. Kids don't need to play competitive football in their earlier years, they should be free to express themselves, find their own style, develop their abilities and become comfortable and autonomous with techniques and skills involved in football. These skills are learned and developed easier at a younger age, leave the teamwork etc for afterwards. Obviously this is all easier said than done, however by identifying clear goals and aims, not just England will win the world cup in 2022, I think it may be a slight step forward for them.

Davebooth
Davebooth

Good article this, I always have the debate about how we can improve the overall quality of English players, but to be honest that debate could go on for weeks. My biggest worry is about the fact we don't give young people the chance too play in most situations. Gone are the days where kids were allowed or had the opportunity to go out for the entire day and just play football with their mates. Around my local area in Sheffield, there used to be 20 different places kids could go to have a proper knockabout. Now there is probably 2 that are always available, the rest of the places haves either been built on, are overgrown or are now that you have to pay to play. The government should help fund university's and other sports complex centres and allow kids under a certain age to play at their facilities for free. I know that Brazil and other countries don't have the luxury of 4g football pitches but they have 100's of different places where they can play without being told they can't or that they have to pay to play there.

Viking UK
Viking UK

Oh! Grand Bodø won 4-3. 'JB please note, with another ACCUATE corner kick, picking out her target in a crowded penalty area! in the last minute. What a great game. Full blooded tackles and 100% full on and NO trainers on the pitch. Watch it might mend the broke 'MALE' game because here the WOMENS GAME DOESNT NEED FIXING! Just doesnt need contaimating by the male game! ITS CALLED HONESTY!

Viking UK
Viking UK

Just been watching The Norwegian Under 19 WOMEN/GIRLS Football Ftnal. As I write its 3-3. and remembering its ALL RELATIVE! The skill level, honesty and pure work rate AND ATTACKING FOOTBALL!!!!! Puts the professional game to shame!  I have watched, which is not uncommon in the women game (here anyway) a shoting accuracy, at goal, of over 95%. I can count on one hand shoots that have missing the target! WHY CANT HIGHLY PAID PRO. even acheive 25%???  I am going to watch, LIVE ON TV. extra time. 

JB try and get a tape of the game Grand Bodø v Arna Bjørnar, and learn how to take a place and corner kick! The skill level, energy WILL suprise you! And I could be watching Everton v Spurs NO THANKS!


GobletSquatter
GobletSquatter

Great article Joey, a hell of a lot more refreshing than the classic Football focus opinion. I don't have many points to add for the good but instead I'm going to offer a careless point of view.

Being Irish, I naturally encourage England's failings but thinking a bit deeper about it, there are a few points that are constantly ignored by the English. The first is the lack of acknowledgement by the English that the players in the current squad are excellent players playing in arguably the most competitive league in the world. The lack of acknowledgement is due to a lack of success. Success for England has been a poisoned term since that '66 win. Success in Ireland is qualifying for a tournament, for example. England's failings, I feel, are not down to grassroots (how much money is thrown at Brazil's grassroots? not more per head as in England I imagine) but down to the delusion of '66 and ignorance to your natural failings. You have a wealth of talent that is treated well, coached well and yet you question the lack of success. Being a Newcastle fan I can empathize with those frustrated by a 'lack of success'. The Premier League is not an obstacle however, it should be an ally to success. It gives the most talented English the chance to play against/with the best in the world. 

Another thing worth mentioning is that not all foreign players that play in England at academy level move on to greater things. This idea that foreign players are reaping benefits at England's expense is such a myth. 

Finally, a great example that we often point to back home at our failings as a football team is down to the number of people playing the game. Football faces tough competition from Rugby and the GAA. England faces similar challenges but it would be unfair to ever discourage another sport. I would say that this 'crisis' is slightly over dramatized as a result. 

The constant debate often includes the phrase ''look at the success of Germany, Holland, Belgium''. These sides are yet to taste ''success'' in the way England has painted the term for an equally long time as well. Listening to colleagues I often feel that the grass is always greener for an England fan. But ask these England/Liverpool, England/Manchester United, England/Arsenal, England/Manchester City fans if they would sacrifice Suarez, Van Persie, Özil and Aguero for the good of the English game, then things might just fall a bit silent again. 

CraigOwen10
CraigOwen10

Joey, I was a very talented young player, played for town and county teams at all ages, signed with Leeds at 14, moved to Derby as an apprentice at 16 and did a few years there. I was easily the best player of my group/youth team, played in the reserves regularly with the potential to be a top player, however, I caught up in the lifestyle, out boozing and partying, thinking I had made it before I had, in short, bad attitude and lacked dedication to my craft (recognize this now, all too late in hindsight given this was 10-15 years ago). Given I had never had to get a 'proper' job, I didn't realise what an opportunity I had.

My take is, the young players get too much too soon and as such, they have their heads turned away from the football side, when that should be everything. My solution:

When a kid leaves school at 16, instead of them going straight into a club as an apprentice, each club has relationships with local employers and the kid does 6 months real work before they start their apprenticeship. If I had gone and done 6 months in a factory doing 12 hour shifts for peanuts, when I had the opportunity to then go into the football club, I can assure you I would have trained harder and been 100% dedicated knowing what the alternative was - it may still have not worked out, but at least I could have looked back with no regrets knowing i couldn't have worked any harder.

Luckily, I also did well at school, so am now a successful white collar worker, with a good job, good lifestyle and great family, as I knuckled down and worked hard to achieve, all the things i should have done when I had the world at my feet.

Love the website, commentary and your twitter opinion.


ajh62
ajh62

Good article Joey. Don't agree with it all but great someone in the public eye is asking the questions. FA is to scared to get to the real hub of the matter, fearful of opening a can of worms is can't close again when what we need is someone to tear open the can, empty the contents and tackle them head on - why so many young asians playing football yet ap few Asian pro players? Why so few black coaches and managers? How does FA measure risk against reward pre and post investment? Anyhow, not going to focus on FA nor on coaching (clearly needs reform), and instead suggest 2 thing the premier league could do instantly to support the cause:

1. As part of the license each team holds to be part of the premier league (it is a franchise really just doesn't want to be seen acting like one - another debate for another day) the premier league should stipulate that a club can only have a first team squad of 25 players. No reserve team, no youth team and no academy. This would Have the following impacts: prevent the stockpiling of talent; force players to ply their trade in lower leagues where they will have to work to make it in a professional environment and earn that first big contract. This will keep them hungry while the make it, driving them to achieve rather than them have all the rewards without the achievement, pay their dues if you like; premier league teams, who like a finished a finished product (or close to it) would be able to buy English player who were experienced, high quality professional footballers rather than just highly talented players (two very different things); lower league clubs would always be well rewarded; that last point would encourage championship and leagues 1 & 2 clubs to create the right kind of player, coach them in the right way (basic supply and demand).

2. Rather than restrict Premier League clubs by stipulating how many English players they should have, a tactic which doesn't work as top teams can afford to recruit benchwarmers to negate a quota system, clubs should be incentivised. The premier league should divide the tv and prize money by creating a third income stream based upon payments for each England cap received by a player in your squad. This nakedly commercial approach certainly answers the 'what's in it for me' question.

Don't mind if these get shot down in flames as long as the debate keeps going until we find a solution.

Help Dave
Help Dave

Perhaps start with The FA providing a system of how all football in the country should be coached.I've been running a junior football club for 8years and no one has shown us how we should coach kids in a certain way. All coaches are generally parents who haven't a clue and are just committed mums and dads. Level 1 coaching is simply embarrassing as a 'badge' of suitability to coach children any sort of system.Most players in their formative years tend to just get rid of the ball and generally long. If you see the same in Western Europe they are obviously all following a system (a debate in itself if it's the right system) and then teach that with their own flare and nuances.We also have too many junior clubs in too small an area. virtually each and every ward and borough has a team or two. Most of those teams have no facilities nor base and frequently play games across several poor pitch sites. It is almost a territorial and competitive arrangement with no common good. In Europe they have fewer clubs but more teams at each club and have superb facilities in comparison.Decide on a system from 5 yr olds upwardsShow all the clubs how to coach that systemSend FA coaches to monitor that systemReduce the number of clubs to allow more collective funding opportunities enabling better facilities , and allowing more cohesive monitoring and delivery of coaching a specific system. No directionPoor coaching methodsTo many junior clubsPoor facilities Too many territorial junior set ups

AndersonMJames
AndersonMJames

The fact the Joey Barton was told that he was too small is appalling. Many of the academies have a tendency to encourage and further so called big kids. We may miss out on the little magicians who are brilliant on the ball. And we miss them just because the academies think that they are not BIG enough. We should look at players like Messi, Maradona, Pele, Sebastien Giovinco (Juventus), Sneijder, Romario,Robert Carlos etc. who are small players but are brilliant and in some cases magical with the ball. We need to encourage both types of players. There is no doubt that the big guys are needed but at the same time we also need the little magicians and they should not just be ignored because they are small.

P.S. By the way Joey, If you do a 'Joey Barton Height' Google Search it says your height is 1.72 m. I think you are 1.80 m as Wikipedia Says. Don't Know which is right. Anyway I have reported to Google that the height they have mentioned is wrong. (Just Because I think you are taller than 1.72m) 

   


FraserW14
FraserW14

The attitude of some players and clubs  in the BPL  , in my opinion, are far below par. I will use the Bundesliga as an exemplar league. After a game in the Bundesliga, no matter what the result was, home or away, the players will walk up and applaud the fans. I don't mean just look at them and clap for a few seconds, they go right over to them together as a team. If they win, they will get involved with chants and stay with the fans for a good few minutes. However, at full time in most games over here, many players just can't wait to get back to the dressing room. Others will clap the fans whilst walking off, but the majority of the time the players go up to one and other and congratulate themselves and the manager and sub team. Like this, the fans feel as if they are on the outside, just customers. 

When Liverpool train, children get into trouble by looking over the wall in an attempt to see their heroes train and most other training grounds are completely shut off to anyone who is not affiliated with the club. However, in Germany, open training sessions are held regularly FC Schalke 04 are a big fan of these. Players, even the manager tend to be happy to sign stuff for the fans and talk to them for a bit, there is a lot of respect built up as a cause between the fans and the players.  With regards to the fans, you can purchase an adult season ticket at the European Champions and probably the best team in the world at the moment, FC Bayern Munchen, for only 250 euros. Clubs gain money from hospitality, they tax at the top essentially. So you can watch Spurs in hospitality for 2/3 of the price of FC Bayern, but a season ticket will be 1/3 of the price at the Allianz of a similar one at White Hart Lane. I refer back to fans feeling like customers, for most clubs the ideal fan will buy the new shirt, a season ticket, possibly a training jacket and some other merchandise: £££ for the club. There will be other fans though who live nearby the stadium and only have a season ticket, having watched the club through thick and thin for 40+ years, who as far as the business is concerned, have invested less utility into the club. This attitude must go. I have to say that Fulham are a good club at dealing with their fans and I have a lot of respect for that, but improvements must be made all around. 

There are BPL players who do have a lot of time for the fans, I do not doubt that at all, however, some need to look around them in the stadium and look at who is supporting them, who care about how they perform. I'm not saying that the Bundesliga is perfect either, however, it is a fantastic league to follow in the footsteps of with regards to the club/supporter relationship. 

blankertis
blankertis

English academy's putting instant success over future success is what is wrong with our game.

bmorris6868
bmorris6868

Joey. A study I carried out 2 years ago on where our English Premier League Players were coming from.

No1 provider was Man Utd.

No2 provider was Non League Football. (Conference Downwards)

Yes that's what our English players are having to do once they are released by our Academies too early.

Not every player can be the next Jack Wilshere or Daniel Sturridge.

I believe the average age of a premier league player making his debut is 22 years old.

Does this not explain why youth players need more time.

Foreign owners need to have belief in managers rather than changing them once a year if they are lucky.

Then maybe managers can be sensible about the youth players.

Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Ajax & Real Madrid have all had different managers over the last couple of seasons but one thing they are not allowed to touch is the Academy. I hear time & time again some managers go into clubs and before they have settled down, they don't just want to change the style of play in the 1st team, they want to also restructure the whole Academy to there way of playing. Change, change, change at Academy level does not work. Stability, Belief and Structure works at Academy level.

chappy1980
chappy1980

For me I would start even further down the grass root scale than anybody has suggested. Infant and Primary school's no longer have sport's days because they don't like kids losing, but what about kids winning? The same goes with Football teams at that age; they don't exist. This nanny culture is stifling the childrens instinct to want to win, and on top of that what does it do to kids who are athletic and talented at sports but are not very good academically? We should make P.E / sport a key subject in all secondary/academy schools with scholarships at the age of 16 the same as you get in America and Australia where sport is taken much more seriously than in the U.K schools, and as a extra plus note it would also help obesity levels in future years if it was a key subject in schools.

ConRich10
ConRich10

Here's the key question, I think: What's different about the Premier League, compared to the Bundesliga and La Liga (thriving leagues with thriving international teams)? Currently, Barcelona's probably the most recognizable brand in football, yet their growth hasn't led them to flood their team with foreign talent. The success comes from La Masia products, an academy whose success absolutely blows any English academy out of the water. Their league also has "B" teams, which solves the problem you identify from big clubs with players who aren't good enough yet. Bet you Josh McEachran (who I'm familiar with, as a Chelsea supporter) would be playing there.


The Bundesliga requires at least 8 locally-developed players be enrolled in a club at all times, so they have hard requirements for homegrown talent. Plus, their 50+1 rule makes it so oil-rich investors can't swoop in and run a team, so their clubs are run less like business with brands to grow and more like football clubs, which probably leads to a more vested interest in the success of their international team. That's just a theory though.

danielgeorge1991
danielgeorge1991

there should be a wage cap so that more English players will be  able  to get  into the top teams and we become better most player  are most likey are good as each other but they don't get the chance and will get  rid of the forgin waster who are not good enough but like sitting on the side lines just  to pick up nice pay packet when your young you don't play football for money you play it for the love of it which will come back and that will only make players better most training grounds are better than ever before with all the stuff they have so a wage cap would only increase the changes of england winning the world cup again can't do it when ya have to play players for there country out of position we should have better strength in depth and a wage cap will help that my view Daniel George     

Sihughes
Sihughes

Each club should have a minimum amount of english players in the team and a minimum amount of "club-grown" players in the squad.

SODriscollCFC
SODriscollCFC

The problem with OUR beloved national game is the clear lack of identity in which our game is played from grass roots up to elite level. The way our FA runs the game is follow national set up's much more forwarded thinking and superior to ours such as Spain and Germany of recent years. We follow and change our recent grass root set ups to match Spain's a mere 8 years after they started formulating how they believed the game should be played. 

I read a recent statistic that Germany has 8x the amount of the equivalent F.A level One football coaches than us, not only providing more coaches but a much more difficult set up to pass. I have done my F.A Level 1 and 2 and I find it astonishingly easy, its like they pass everyone for a statistic but not the quality of coach (I have heard UEFA B is alot more in depth and difficult though). 

We have unrealistic goals and need someone at the head of the F.A to put his neck on the line, stand for what he believes in and everyone get behind that one person.

mathew3
mathew3

Joey, 

Good points made here. Producing players for the England national team is not the PL's problem. 

Also worth mentioning that if you focus only on the domestic game as context for arguments, you can lose perspective. 

Firstly, cast your mind back 20 years or so in the past -  Pre-Premier League; were we overflowing with world class home grown products? Would Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck et al  not get considered in sides ahead of the likes of Paul Mariner, Peter Withe, Alan Smith etc?

If the Premier League is the key root cause, can you apply the same argument to other leagues, like Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A etc? Are their national teams suffering because of an influx of foreign players to their leagues?

Why do we look for excuses Joey? You went and played in France, and had a great experience, so why are young British players so static?  Theoretically, they can get experience all over Europe, right? Why is it the Premier League's responsibility to help these guys? Are they "entitled" to play, or shouldn't they just be good enough?

If we are being held back because the Premier League clubs don't look after the youth players, why are the Belgian youth players not struggling much more? Shouldn't Januzai, an 18 year old Belgian, be farmed off on loans to the Championship? Shouldnt he be crying foul of not getting his chance? After all, he doesn't have the same advantages that Josh McEachren has, being born in Oxford. 

Or is it because Belgium, a country of 11 million, are investing the right way in youth? He is GOOD enough, so he plays, period.

In athletics, Great Britain, has shown that with stragic investments and world class coaching, they can go from 1 gold medal in Atlanta, 96, to 29 gold medals in 2012.

Premier League clubs can not be obliged to play home grown players,but they can be worked with, and be part of the solution.   


Ghamblin16
Ghamblin16

I think the England team is broken because all the players (except for Rooney, Milner and Carrick) have been picked to contribute individual talents. You need to have players on the team who can play all aspects of the game, not just certain ones. For example Lampard and Gerrard are the same player that can kick a dead ball but play little defensive football. Not to mention Gerrard scored his first England goal in 3 years earlier this month.

We also lack tall and physical players. What good is having players that can deliver crosses into the box when there is no player tall enough to receive it? Especially one that is not big enough to be nudged out of the way. This is where Andy Carroll or another Shearer type player would come in handy.

All together we need players that can play as a team, not as an individual effort.

danieldavies11
danieldavies11

Introduce a quota where clubs have to play a certain amount of English players/players under the age of 21. Also, a percentage (say 5%/10%) of all transfer fees received by English clubs over a certain amount (£500,000?)goes to improving grassroots football. 

Footy
Footy

Intelligence. Look at football managers abroad, look at Wenger, Mourinho, look at UK Rugby Union, all run by intelligent people. English football was, and probably still is, run by dinosaurs with a couple of O Levels.

NWJackson_
NWJackson_

The main problem in England is academies. Coaches can only spend 8 hours per week with players within a 1 hour radius of the club! Players are losing out on the best quality coaching at the most valuable time of their life, aged 8-14. Why not set up genuine soccer schools across England, similar to Lilleshall, but better. Schooling can get looked after, but more importantly the amount of time spent with the ball and learning the game aged 8-14 isn't neglected to just 8 hours per week.

johnrich50
johnrich50

We need more players with perms like in the 70's when we were really successful and an International force!!

AdamWalker14
AdamWalker14

English attitude. Nobody is committed to change. Especially to the degree of the Germans around the millennium

JordanHills27
JordanHills27

You were mentioned by our lecturer today in terms of your views on grassroots coaches. The module I do is on Sports Development and the lecturer went on to praise you and say how right you are about the lack of credit grassroots coaches get for elite athletes compared to those elite coaches.

WillyBooby
WillyBooby

@Viking UK Sweden's Womens football team (top 3 in the world) were beaten by AIK's boys youth side, who were playing with 10 'men'. Please don't EVER compare the top level of men's game with the women's, you're only embarrassing yourself.

Women's football is a sport in its own right, please don't confuse the two because of the forced rise in popularity and recent television coverage.

WillyBooby
WillyBooby

@CraigOwen10 This is very true, I'm sure quite a few people knew young players in your position. Only one guy I played with has made a decent career for himself after becoming pro (he's now at Swindon). There are at least 3 or 4 others I know of that faded out very quickly. 

It's evident from hundreds of youth academy player's twitter pages that they already think they've 'made it' because they are playing at a Championship/League One club around the age of 16. In time they will discover the truth for themselves, you can't be told this, it comes down to maturity.

Joey B
Joey B

@chappy1980 I'm with you here really. Why oh why do certain schools put emphasis on RE for instance? What use is this in the curriculum? Its always baffled me. (side note)

I also don't understand why professional coaches aren't hired by schools. It happens in American sports. Why not allow are best coaches to gain some experience in a schooling environment.

Why don't we start to implement a stronger, grassroots level to sport(specifically football) in this country. 

Most academies now have to provide schooling for talented kids. Most big clubs send talented youngsters to certain high schools favourable to said clubs training schedule. 

Why don't the FA set some strong guidelines around this idea, instead as is happening now, allowing the strong and wealthy clubs to monopolise all the young talent in this country and send them into a giant meat factory(their academies) to be processed and churned up hopefully with 1 or 2 emerging the other side unbroken. Whilst, everything else is smashed up, confidence totally shot, to crawl away to try to re-build itself somewhere else.

I was an academy kid rejected at 14. I was told I was too small. Too small. I believed those that made that decision to be wrong. I set out to prove them wrong. I am in the minority. Most kids take that rejection, by so called 'experts' as the end. They lose belief.

Who'd blame them. Those same people where telling the only a couple of years before they were the best thing since sliced bread.

The pressure we put on the production of young kids is flawed. Completely and utterly. Yes we will get some talent through. Of course we will. Purely on numbers alone. Millions of kids believe they can make it. Thousands have the talent. Why is it only a few hundred make it?

This is a long winded reply @Chappy1980 mate, I know but this is a topic I care deeply about. Without writing another blog post. Two keys things that must change fairly quickly in order for England to be successful again.

1. We need to get more people coaching. At all levels of the game. Good qualified coaches with a love of the game. I believe the FA/Premier League/PFA should, if they are not already subsidise this.

2. I believe we must create a coaching environment where players can develop at a pace suited to their development as adults. (I have a theory on this I will expand on a some time in the future.)

Thanks for the post

r1alford
r1alford

@Joey B - I look forward to hearing about your theory regarding tailored programs to account for differing speeds in physical development. From childhood through adolescence to adulthood, lads develop physically at different rates and saying to a boy of 14 that he is too small is indicative of an extremely blinkered and uninformed mind-set. Development of young footballers up to the age of 16 should involve as much technique and ball work as possible, physicality and fitness can be honed as the footballer reaches adulthood. Unfortunately youth football in the UK is still proliferated by narrow minded, self serving morons who think winning as many matches as possible at underage level is indicative of their quality as a coach. It is not, a side of physically well developed 15 year olds in the business end of puberty will trounce 11 lads of the same age who are yet to develop physically, even when the latter team are superior in skill an technique. The same more skilful players, in 5 years time, will likely run rings around their former tormentors. I was always small as a youngster and was often left out or struggled against sides which had clearly handpicked the biggest lumps they could get hold of, but when I filled out at 19-20 I was running rings around the same players.

Underage coaching should prioritise the individual development of each youngster, with tailor made programs to account for what stage they are at physically, unfortunately too many coaches with minimal training opt for physicality for a quick fix, even when selecting, say, an under 14 side, which is doing aspiring young footballers in the UK a total disservice.

I've looked at youth development in Spain and the emphasis up until the age of 16 is on developing awareness of the game, ball skills and technique, not overpowering opponents. They use smaller pitches and lighter weight balls and while competitive matches are important, development of technique and skill are paramount. Such an approach allows players smaller in stature, such as Iniesta and Xavi, to flourish. The FA should impose strict guidelines for youth development and coaching to ensure skill and awareness of the game is prioritised, and propose tailored development programmes, from Primary School age through to schoolboy years.

Viking UK
Viking UK

@WillyBooby @Viking UK I have NO embarrassment! The COMPARISON was in my word "RELATIVE" ! Obviously Girls playing Boys would  NOT be "RELATIVE" But when a team of girls play each other with the same rules as the 'Professional' mens game. You see a better FOOTBALL game! Which is what the subject we are discussing! 

What I hate about the 'PRO' game is the with its seems playing with just 'one forward' 4 or 5 across the middle or across the back. The game is about NOT losing and NOT about Winning! Usually because of the 'BUSINESS' of MONEY pressures !

Eg: A QPR's 'YouTube' Video showed with pride the team create '27 passes' which lead to FAEN ALL! Or the 'UT' the ' Prefect pass?'  One would hope that that the money these 'Pro's are paid that ALL passes should be prefect! keep with the QPR UT site video Ladies team called 'GOALS GOALS GOALS!" 

Goals! That I would suggest fans want to see!

Perhaps you have put your finger on it! in your last pargraph " Womens football is a SPORT in its own right, please dont  confuse of the two because of the", I do question your "'forced' rise", But applaude, "in POPULARITY' and recent television coverage". 

Who 'forced', public POPULARITY perhaps for THE GAME NOT THE BUSINESS?

I return to my last pargargh. Ladies Final last Saturday 4-3 after extra time COMPARED with at the same time Everton v Spurs 0-0. I think I was better ENTERTAINED!

mathew3
mathew3

@Joey B @chappy1980  Joey agree with all of this; ESPECIALLY getting pro coaches into schools. What I would take issue with is your assertion that your will to prove people wrong was a relatively insignificant factor in your success.

Isn't it the single most determining factor? Didn't Messi have to prove a whole load of people wrong?  I dread to think how many people told Peter Crouch he wouldn't make it!!

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