What’s Wrong with the English National Team?

By | September 12, 2013

Greg Dyke gave his first speech on Wednesday as chairman of the Football Association, the governing body of English football.  His remarks confirmed what most football fans and pundits already suspected – that England have a poor chance of winning next year’s World Cup in Brazil.  “I asked a bunch of journalists what would be seen as doing well in Brazil. The consensus was if we reach the quarter-finals we’ll do very well. That’s not to say we can’t win. But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pretty hard to win in Latin America anyway for a European side. We’re certainly not going to go there as odds-on favourites, that’s for sure”, he added.  Dyke also began to outline his plan for reforming the English footballing system, as he aims to increase the number of English players in the Premier League, and ultimately help England have a realistic chance of winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

With every poor performance or embarrassing loss in a global tournament by England and its youth teams comes the inevitable flood of criticism and re-evaluation of the country’s footballing structure.  Every level of the game is scrutinized as the cause of the country’s failures, from the senior team all the way to the academies and youth sides.  This statement from Greg Dyke has provoked a similar reaction.  While English arrogance, conflicts between youth and senior teams, and poor coaching structure have all been pinpointed as clear areas of concern in the last week, the problems with English football are clearly complicated and multi-faceted.

Or maybe they just need to practice their penalties more? (Don’t watch this video if you’re an England fan.  It might ruin your day).

One thought on “What’s Wrong with the English National Team?

  1. Jarrett Link

    Problems with the English national team are indeed multi-faceted and complex. Despite its status as arguably the most competitive club league in the world, the structure of the Barclays Premier League (BPL) are in part responsible for England’s failure at the international level.

    The BPL is a cash cow. It rakes in more revenue than any other professional soccer league, which is of course ideal for both the league and its associated teams. On the flip side, however, the glut of the Premier League leaves little room for fostering the national team. Clubs, with few exceptions, tend to focus on importing talent from outside of the British Isles rather than developing homegrown players. A comparison between Chelsea, which ascribes to the philosophy that money wins championships, and current Bundesliga stalwarts Bayern München allows for more tangible insight into this phenomenon. Starting XI’s for the Blues often include no more than 2 players from England, with the rest coming from all over the world. Bayern, while still somewhat reliant on foreign imports, has a core of talented, relatively young German players (Schweinsteiger, Müller, Neuer, Lahm, Kroos, etc.) who were developed by Bayern, continue to succeed with Bayern, and shine for their national team. One underlying cause of this discrepancy is the fond relationship that exists between German clubs and the German Football Association (FA). Obviously, it is in the best interest of the German national team–governed by the German FA–to develop and nurture young players. Conversely, in-fighting reigns supreme in England. The Premier League, the English FA, and the Football League seem in one way or another to identify the best possible manner in which to cooperate the least. England would surely benefit from a revision of their homegrown player rule. As of now, the text reads: “Clubs cannot name more than 17 non home grown players aged over 21.” No more than 17?! How will that manage to, “sustain the development of home-grown talent,” as the Premier League suggests it is designed to do? Simply put, it won’t. Until the Premier League has more incentive to play and develop home-grown youths, England will continue to play second fiddle in Europe to the likes of Spain and Germany while toiling in the doldrums of underachievement.


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