And so another group of u21’s are instantly dismissed and chastised for their failure in this year’s Euro tournament and once again everyone turns to the eventual winners the Spanish and asks ‘well what are they doing that we’re not?’ In an attempt to keep up with the Joneses we’ve tried everything; putting our juniors in oxygen tents for 5 years, teaching the offside rule from the womb and stunting growth and avoiding haircuts in the hope that just somebody will look a bit like Lionel Messi. Everybody says technically we’re inferior and that projects like the Burton academy will help…But will it? To take one from the greatest film to never win an Oscar – Cool Runnings – why are we trying to do what the Swiss do? (of course, in football terms nobody is doing that.) We have our own style, and we always will. Why are we not playing to our strengths?
You can’t tell me a team containing the likes of Stuart Pearce, Gary Lineker and Bryan Robson made the semi finals of the World Cup in 1990 because technically they were better than their opponents. Granted, that team also contained the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Chris Waddle but neither would fall into the Barcelona school of technique that the critiques are referring to. Both were gifted because they had the audacity to try things that no one else would try. They weren’t famed for keeping the ball and exhausting their opponents. They were known for forward thinking moments of brilliance that could change a game in an instant.
My point is, we are not, and never will be that way inclined in this country. We’ve been trying it for years and years and it has arguably wasted our most promising generation for centuries. Technique is not the tool that’s holding us back; it’s the prison that is keeping us locked up in our own potential. If anything, all of these academies, courses and early age scouting is exactly what’s killing our game. It’s taking away the one thing we were known for. Determination. Ask Ian Wright, Arsenal’s second leading goalscorer of all time what would’ve happened had he been scouted at the age of 10 and thrown into a youth academy. Or any other player that snuck into the professional scene late in their progression. Pampering kids to develop into driven players is not the answer. Because they are given everything on a plate almost immediately.
In fact, ask any of the players from that squad of 1990 and ask them how they were bought up in football. I bet not one of them has something positive to say about their education. They probably had to clean shit off of the first team’s boots, cars, faces, and encountered constant cold showers for their inability to do their job properly and many crunching tackles from older professionals who perhaps didn’t take a shining to a younger model getting in his space. But when it mattered, they had the determination, and general stubbornness to keep fighting and punch way above their weight in terms of skill. Tell me the last time an England team really showed that? Away in Italy before the 98 World Cup? Perhaps Beckham single handily against Greece?
Of course, you can’t base an entire team around determination but the ability to stand stubborn and fight against what’s hitting you is a vital necessity which I truly believe we’ve lost. Footballers will argue just to make the grade takes that exact quality but compare the upbringing of an U21 player now to one from 20 years ago and see the difference in how they are treated. They’re drilled down to the very nub, and most likely told that the type of things Gazza or Waddle tried in their prime were totally reckless and risked losing the ball.
So please FA, watch Cool Runnings just one more time, and see what happens when you revert back to doing things your own way, with your own style. We are not the Spanish or the Brazilians, and we probably never will be. That doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t reach the heights that they reach. It just means we need to kiss a few lucky eggs.
- Okada, and the smile is gone – If you don’t want to read another ‘FA Cup Magic gone’ article look away now
- Okada, and the smile is gone – What has a guy got to do to earn a contract?
- Okada, and the smile is gone – Czech Republic v Scotland was a fight that should’ve been stopped far earlier
- Okada, and the smile is gone – Not to sound bitter but…
- Okada, and the smile is gone – When is this madness going to end?