England playing Concacaf


With all the nose-wrinkling et al; it would be fun to watch this hypothetical thing. Will England win? Of course not. England wins nothing in football.

Super Idea – And commentary.


Guardian Comment: Football: Why Spain, why Germany, why not England

Here was the article, but that’s not important. This comment was by Guardian Online regular MirandaC:

I’ve said this elsewhere, but the issue for England isn’t the failure of the top clubs to make available the young players they nurture for every England game from the under-19s to the senior squad; nor is it primarily the appointment of old-school managers like Eastick and Pearce whose sole qualification is that they can’t find employment at club level, having been revealed to be useless when they were given the chance.

The real problem – or one of them – is the way football is played here in the majority of clubs below the Premiership. This summer Arsenal released 15 kids from its academy, most of whom are reasonably accomplished having been nurtured since they were nine in Spanish-style technical skills. Many of those kids have had loan spells in the Championship and below where, because they aren’t quite of the quality of Wilshere, they were barely given a game. The reason? Winning is what matters to clubs, and the Arsenal kids’ silky skills weren’t of much use. If those kids want careers as footballers in England they’ll have to reeducate themselves sharpish in combative hoof-ball.

No academy, not even Barca’s, will produce ten Iniestas a year. But several in England are producing players of the technical quality of Lansbury or McEachran. What happens to them? Not quite good enough to make the first team at Chelsea or Arsenal, they sink without a trace into the hoof-ball leagues where they’ve forced to abandon the skills they learnt as young kids.

This is where England differs from Spain. Swansea can buy a player in his mid-twenties from the Spanish lower leagues, or Arsenal from the French ones, because that player’s skill and creativity hasn’t been lost. Can you imagine a top Spanish or French club picking a Michu or Koscielny equivalent out of the English League 1?

Many academies here are doing excellent work. Three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen were English Premiership clubs. The problem is that most of the young English players representing those clubs – and the majority were English – aren’t going to progress in their skills: quite the opposite once they become professionals. This isn’t the fault of the clubs’ academies or even of the under-21 manager; the problem lies in the standard of football that’s played by all but a dozen or so of the top Premiership clubs.

Bloody well said!

Guardian: England is rushing in young players to the first XI

Read this article, superbly well said.

Guardian: Rushing young players into the England team does them few favours (England should follow the lead of France and Germany, who let their young players develop in youth teams)

Also, there is this superb comment by MirandaC, which needs re-posting. So here goes.

If England are threadbare at higher level it isn’t the fault of the top Premiership clubs whose academies are providing a footballing education second to none, as shown by the fact that three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen, the under-19s CL, are English: Chelsea, Arsenal and Villa – the first two of which are all to often unthinkingly blamed for depriving young British talent of its rightful chance.

In fact almost a hundred percent of the intake into those clubs’ academies at age 9-10 is local. The question to ask, therefore, is why so many of those local kids who get to enjoy coaching and facilities that are the envy of the world from their earliest years fail to make it. What’s missing, the talent or the ambition and graft?

Don’t know about other clubs, but at Arsenal in recent years two English kids, Wilshere and Gibbs, who entered the academy at age 9 have made it into the first team; the others, many of whom were considered just as talented initially – e.g. Henri Lansbury and Jay Emmanuel Thomas – did not, reportedly because they fooled about and failed to put in the grind. Of Arsenal’s current Next-Gen first-choice team only three (Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden and Nico Yennaris) are English; the remainder are Bulgarian, German, Dutch, Catalan, Swiss … i.e. kids who entered the academy in their mid- teens but who in a couple of years have risen to the top, leaving their English counterparts lagging behind.

It seems unlikely that these foreigners are innately more talented, especially in the case of the Catalans and Germans who, had they clearly been embryo Iniestas and Messis, would surely have been snapped up by Barca and Bayern’s academies rather than exiled to cold, rainy London? It must, then, be the other factor that makes for success: application. Foreign kids are putting in the effort and making better use of the coaching and facilities than the locals who’ve enjoyed them from their earliest years.

Since being lousy at football isn’t built into the English gene pool, and since there’s no lack of opportunities provided by top Premiership clubs, that leaves us with the culture at large. More precisely it leaves us with the football media.

Instead of giving NextGen the coverage it deserves, the Guardian has treated us to a series of space-fillers – e.g. that one about England’s Rio hotel. This epitomizes the problem. Youth development, kids’ stuff, who gives a fuck about that? Which clubs are doing an excellent job and deserve applause for their success – that’s Arsenal, Villa and Chelsea – and which clubs are not and deserve to be shamed – that’s City who failed to make it through their NextGen group – does the Guardian give a toss? No, it does not. What it cares about, or imagines its readers care about, is the waterbeds and shopping and security at England’s Rio hotel. Why are we surprised that 13-14-year-old English kids have absorbed our interests and values? We’ve taught them that their little competitions where they get to pit their skills and graft against their contemporaries at Europe’s top clubs are of no importance or interest; still less important was the work that produced their success. What’s important in England is shopping and waterbeds in a luxury hotel already booked for a tournament that England haven’t yet qualified for. English football doesn’t do football, not as such; it just does footballing bling.

The Guardian is quasi-left-lib, and sometimes does not remain my cup of tea; but the comments are often amazing! Here’s one.

Taking the time – thankfully.

“English football is facing a constitutional crisis. The Football Association seems to have once again forgotten that their role is to open their morning papers, search for a consensus among the chief correspondents’ views, and act accordingly. Failure to adhere to their wishes has led in the past to such disasters as England reaching three quarter-finals in a row. Sticking with the wisdom of Fleet Street yielded such riches as going out in the group stage at Euro 2000 followed by Kevin Keegan’s merciful resignation in the dressing room after the loss of one game in a qualifying campaign, and Steve McClaren getting to work for Radio 5 Live in June 2008.”

This is from F365. This article. Well said.

Winners’ Luck? Naah…

You want to see ridiculous? Here’s ridiculous. At the Times, what’s more.

(Click here)

In the seven World Cup Finals England have played in since 1966 they have never gone out by more than a single goal. In 1982 they were unbeaten. In 1990, 1998 and 2006 they went out on penalties. Of the rest Sir Alf Ramsey made a bad substitution, Maradona cheated and Ronaldinho scored a freak-cum-wonder goal.

The margin between success and failure is clearly very small when you are one of the best eight sides in the world, as England routinely are, and so it stands to reason that the role of luck will be amplified. So forget the debates about Walcott and Lennon and 4-5-1, the question Fabio Capello needs to ask himself is does he feel lucky.

Of course, any sane individual would know that the writer is over-reaching. One cannot say with a straight face that England had been unlucky for 44 years. Nobody is unlucky for 44 years. In most cases, they had not been good enough. I believe what the writer is really complaining about, is that for the last 44 years England has not fluked a win.

Here’s something most sports fans know. Nobody ever flukes a win in the world cup. One of the top two or three teams invariably win the WC/ Euro cup (and I agree that it might not be the best team every time, but definitely one of the best).

Here’s the easy parallel, if the third seed wins Wimbledon, it’s not a fluke. If an unseeded Boris Becker wins in ’85, it’s not a fluke because he was a soon-to-be-great, and if an unseeded Ivanisevic wins Wimbledon, it was a well-deserved (and a long time coming) win for a perennial runner-up.

England was one of the top three teams in ’66, so they had a streak of luck with the phantom 3rd goal in the final, and won. Fair enough for me (not for the Germans maybe). England were probably one of the top three teams in the ’70 WC, but did not win. Indeed, two better teams played in the finals. That’s okay, it happens. Nobody would have said that they have fluked it, even if they would have beaten that Brazil team. For all the brouhaha about the Maradona handball at the ’86 World Cup, there were many better teams than England that year.

Italy were not an excellent, exciting, swashbuckling team, but they still were one of the top three teams in the last world cup. In a very average Euro’04, Greece shaded as one of the top three teams that year, primarily because they were the most organized defensively and gave it all for each other.

England is probably not one of the top three teams in the world cup. But you only get to know this once the tournament starts. But I hope they are not, because for them to be, Argentina will have to implode. And I support Argentina in World Cups.

Greatest night in their history?

Roy Hodgson.

It’s moments like these, events like these that reconfirm my faith in the beautiful game.

Also, please do note, folks, that the game Hodgson’s Fulham play is the real English-style football. Tough, organized, industrious, but not cynical. Please do note, that Tony Pulis’ Stoke does not represent British football, Stoke does not represent football at all. The British football that I admire, the British football that I grew up admiring, is precisely the football Hodgson’s Fulham play.
It’s not the most skillful, but it, more often than not is indeed great to watch for a football connoisseur. Organized, disciplined, quick-passing, passionate, tough, hard-working, holding-its-shape football…. this is the football I was taught to play by the Irish and Goanese missionary-teachers at my old school. This is the football I understand the most. I might prefer the La Liga and its profusion of skills, but real British football is equally admirable.

And well, Fulham’s been having ‘greatest nights in their history’ for a while now. What are the chances of one more?

Jaxx view 1 – Owen


…This is the second time I am writing something similar, so sorry there. But this is for Dave (no I have nothing better to do…)

Many ManUnited fans (and others too) tend to mention that they would like Owen in the World Cup because they will ‘back him to score against Brazil in the last minute’ (and not, say, Defoe). That reminds me that an injury-ravaged, slowed down old goal-poacher (indeed, arguably the best goal-poacher the world seen in the last 10-20 years, possibly ever) is banging them in for fun at Corinthians in Brazil (something Owen isn’t doing, incidentally; not yet at least)…And he does not have a whiff of a chance for a place in the World Cup for Brazil.

Lesson – Form and fitness over luck. So many makeshifts fitted into the team, just to ensure the last-minute thing against Brazil? Think of it, you have Argentina in the second round, and Messi is running at Barry/ Lescott…You can lose it all there. And carrying Owen to the finals for that last-minute miracle might come up three rounds short.

Jaxx [{()}] B