Second football rant in as many weeks! Last one I promise!
England look to be out of the World Cup having lost their opening two games and I have to say that I’m not surprised at all. Someone is always at fault when a game is lost. Sometimes it’s just a defender losing their man, or a player missing a penalty but in England’s case it’s something much more fundamental. I personally think English international football has been in decline since the start of this century and I think the FA, fans, Rich Chairmen, Sky and grassroots football are to blame.
Back in 2000 German were left shell shocked as they experienced an early exit from the Euro’s. The German FA took immediate action and invested £20 million and a lot of time, thought and effort into grassroots football. I won’t go into what they – you can read yourself – but it is very impressive.
Look at the Germans now at both international and club level. They are absolutely flying. I went to Germany to watch Dortmund play early this year and everything about the football in that country was fantastic.
The premier league is supposedly the “best” league in the world but I’m not sure I agree. It’s quite exciting with regards to inflated transfers, wild manager sacking and rich chairmen buying clubs but is the actual football the best? Is it better than Germany or Spain both of whom have had the finalist teams in the last two European cups? I don’t think it is.
English footballers now account for less than a third of all the minutes played in the Premier League, a State of the Game study for BBC Sport has found. Lets have a look at the other countries
England are significantly lower but what you also need to remember is the likes of Spain and Germany have other players playing all over the world. Spain have ten players in their world cup squad playing outside of their home nation and Germany have 7. In comparison England have 1 third choice goalkeeper from Scotland. The most high profile player we have abroad is Jermain Defoe in America.
Why are English players not playing abroad? I don’t know the answer to this question but I would hazard a guess that they won’t get better money elsewhere and that they also aren’t good enough, don’t show enough passion and they don’t have the same mentality as the players that other countries can find locally.
In 2009 England got to the Final of the European under 21’s final and were defeated 4-0 by Germany . These German players – combined with the rest of the older German talent – have gone through the ranks and are now dominating football both nationally and domestically.
Guess how many players from that England starting team were in the 2014 World Cup 23 man squad. ONE! James Milner who probably won’t even get on the bench in this world cup. Looking through the list half of these players don’t even play for their clubs regularly.
A couple of names captured my attention:-
James Milner – He’s nothing flashy but always consistent, hardworking and reliable. Struggling to get in the team at Man City, he started 12 games this season.
Micah Richards – Picks up £55k a week at Man City, a sum which is relatively low for the club. Played 2 games this season.
Nedum Onuoha – Another player who was left to rot at City. He now plays for QPR, a team who had a bigger wage bill than European finalists A Madrid last season whilst in the championship. He played 7 games last season.
Adam Johnson – Brilliant career until he joined Man City. Couldn’t get in the team. Now at Sunderland and I felt he should have been in the WC squad as been best left winger in the PL this season in my opinion.
Jack Rodwell – Do you see a common theme? I rated this lad so much, he was better than Barkley at Everton. He’s now at Man City and can’t get a game.
Michael Mancienne – Couldn’t get in the team at Chelsea. He now plays in Germany for Hamburger SV.
There are some other players in there such as Walcott and Gibbs who are decent but didn’t make the WC squad for whatever reason. The rest of the squad aren’t at high profile clubs.
So we have a load of players who got to a U21’s European Cup final and 4 years later half of them have disappeared from the international scene. I don’t think it’s because they aren’t good enough. I think it’s because they are quite simply replaced by a more expensive foreigner and forgotten about whilst being paid a fortune. PL clubs can’t wait for these players to mature, they need it immediately.
A few years ago when Abramovich came to Chelsea it reminded me of when I was 14 years old playing Championship Manager and I would add another manager at a good team and buy all my worst players for millions, or alternately I would just edit the database and give myself tens of millions. It was really fun but deep down I knew I had cheated my way to success.
I don’t see any difference in this and how some modern Chairmen act. It’s just a game for them and they don’t care how they cheat their way to success. It has been made apparent that anyone can buy a PL title these days, Man City are a prime example. Football clubs are always going to be bought out and of course rich people are always going to be involved in the purchases but some clubs are totally taking the piss.
Here’s how I imagine a convo between a manager and Chairman..
Manager of Man City
We’ve just purchased Jack Rodwell from Everton who was fantastic last season and looks to be a great talent but unfortunately he’s not world class yet? What should we do?
Just buy another World Class midfielder to take his place until he’s ready, no in fact buy four/five and then we will be fine. I don’t care how much money I spend as long as I win.
3 years later
Unfortunately Jack’s not going to be as good as we first thought. I can’t for the life of me understand why as he was brilliant when we bought him.
No worries just sell him to a mid table club and buy us another midfielder!
Unbelievable! And that’s what happens! Needless to say it is absolutely suicidal for our national team.
It’s a very tricky situation and we are never going to be able to do what Germany did as they have the 50+1 rule which means fans have a controlling stake in the game. This is very important as the fans want the best the club, their national team and the game in general.
I also think it’s not all about the money. We can’t throw millions at grassroots football and it expect it to improve, it also comes down to the training, facilities and also the character of our youth.
Have read the words of Wolfgang Niersbach (the current president of the German FA) speaking about the German players he desired back in 2010…
“In terms of personal qualities, it is vital that players possess willpower, a sense of commitment, self-confidence and the ability to assert themselves, as well as a character beyond reproach.”
Imagine trying to tell our chairmen or overpaid prima donna superstars that. So many of them are on huge amounts of money, even the younger ones! Sterling went from 2k to 40k a week when he was 18 and if they didn’t give him it then someone else would have. Being paid that much at such a young age is obscene and it’s bound to change the mentality of youngsters.
I think the most obvious option is to enforce a rule where x amount of English players must be in the starting 11. Maybe 3/4/5. Multiply that by 20 premier league teams and you have a significant amount of players regularly playing first team football. The FA introduced a “Home Grown Player” rule but it sounds a load of rubbish to me.
I recently read about a Player called Dedryck Boyata who plays for Man City and his managed to acquire a 133% salary increase as City needed him to stay in order to help them meet their “home grown” quota.
For starters the lad is from Belguim and he has played 55mins for Man City this season. The lad is happy to sit on the bench and help them meet their quota as long as he’s paid 40k a week and who can blame him! I would too!
This home grown rule needs to be introduced to the 1st team and it would be far better if it would only apply to those who are actually English.
The German manager Joachim Löw is another person who deserves much credit. He’s tactically astute and picks a team rather than the best players. Not sure about Roy right now.
A salary cap is something that I would like to see introduced. No club should be able to spend more money on transfers than they actually generate in revenue. This would introduce parity between teams so wealthy teams cannot dominate by signing many more top players than their rivals. It would also help teams avoid bankruptcy and debt. I fear it’s now impossible to do this as there is too much money involved and it has gone way too far to try and change.
I imagine there are plenty of issues with the solutions that I have suggested and I’m sure there are other – more suitable – alternatives that could be considered.
At the end of the day it’s only a game but it’s difficult to watch us getting beat by countries we should really be beating!
Thanks for reading.