The (awful) state of the England football national team

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“They showed desire, commitment, enthusiasm to the cause…

…He had a poor performance because he was outpaced and outmuscled by the man he was marking!”

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Haven’t we all heard those clichés before?

Of course we have because that’s the stereotypical Anglo-Saxon ideas on how to kick an (increasingly-lightweight) synthetic material filled with air are being pumped again!

The BBC and their Match of the Day programme has succeeded worsening such expressions, with Humpty-Dumpty type losers in Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer spouting the same recycled nonsense week-in, week-out. They are backed by the completely fucking unbearable twat that is Mark Lawrenson, who appears to hold a grudge with nearly everyone in football, along with Robbie Savage. Unfortunately, Robbie has the IQ of a donkey, so expanding my opinion of him is a waste of time.

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Ethnicity

As a British born Chinese (BBC), I could have turned my back on England, but being unable identity with those of my ethnic origin has meant I have seen this as worthless.

Sadly, the archetypal East Asian male cannot be described being suited to the aggressive brand of football the English like to play. Short (5’5″- 5’9″), usually thin and slender means that few English coaches could consider a lad of such origin to be suitable.

Even those of East Asian origin who compete in the Premier League such as Ki Sueng-Yueng of Swansea are tall, powerful, paceful men (although Shinji Kagawa could prove the exception).

Why am I talking about this? Unfortunately, other than the obvious presence of black/mixed players, men of other ethnic origins really lack an opportunity to break into football within these shores.

Leon-Osman

Some may say Leon Osman has broken down this barrier (due to a Turkish-Cypriot father). However his mother is English, so he was most likely integrated into the white British community due to being born and bred in Lancashire.

This is contrast to many top European countries such as France, Sweden and Germany, all of whom all selected players from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. Some may point to Spain, Italy and eastern European countries and state the lack of diversity in their teams have proven no barrier to success.

In case of England, however, the isolation of certain ethnic minorities may prove decisive in harming their success and closing the opportunity to bring a much-needed variation to the high tempo English style.

Coaching and development

In addition, England has a long history of bring foreign coaches in order to improve the standard of football. Why has this not improved English development and coaching? Surely by having the finances to attract the best coaches should bring an improvement, but a rigid lack of willingness to move away from pre-historic styles in grassroots is still prevalent.

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To worsen this issue, managers such as Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and Jose Mourinho have been successful with a heavily-pragmatic style within the Premier League. The pressure to win is more than in other countries due to financial mismanagement of clubs and the clauses in the players’ contracts, but managers should realise a more passing way would be better than compounding injuries suffered from abrasive styles of football.

I could argue referees should protect star players more, but that could have a domino effect of reducing the decision-making ability of star players who would no longer be pressed in tight situations. You only have to remember Neymar’s lack of ability to make quick, sharp judgement in Brazil’s friendly against England to grasp the dangers of going ‘soft’.

Arsene Wenger himself spoke a house building analogy to describe the process of developing a player.

  1. Basement(relates to the feet- what type of technical skills does he have? Is his first touch good? Can he play first-touch and second-touch passes well?)
  2. Ground floor(relates to the physical condition of the player- pace, strength, agile movements, height, vision)
  3. First floor(relates to the tactical footballing brain of the player, their communication skills and ability to adapt with a plan B)
  4. Roof (relates to the mental attributes- how far would they go to win a football match at any level?) 

Sadly, many have concluded English players are built as big and fast bungalows and a tough roof, but without a basement.

wenger boys

Wenger, Neymar, Wilshere, Scholes, Balotelli, Cassano

Spanish success

Others have commented there are a lack of English players with a concept of the Spanish call ‘La Pausa’. This is the ability to slow a game down whilst in possession of the ball and stopping your opponents winning the ball in a phase where your team-mates are taking a breather in order judge how to launch an attack into your opponent’s box.

The Spanish national team are masters of this concept, with their German, Italian, Dutch, Belgian and maybe French counterparts not too far behind. South American countries such as Colombia, Venezuela and Chile have too caught up, but the combination of wonderful tricky feet from Juan Mata, David Silva and Jesus Navas have added towards the heavily-improved desire of the Spanish collective to win tournaments.

English failure

In terms of availability, only Paul Scholes and Jack Wilshere have shown mastery of ‘La Pausa’. Stars such as Gerrard and Beckham have done well with long, well aimed passes but managing the tempo of a game has been their weakness. Others such as Lampard and Carrick have probably shown themselves to be fairly adequate at controlling possession, but often have struggled with the poor movement of team-mates.

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O’Hara, Navas, Vieri

Not only has the coaching development has let down young Englishmen, but the decadent culture they are sucked into is a factor. This is not to say the top footballers from other countries are angels; Italy themselves have struggled with prima-donnas such as Cassano, Balotelli and Christian Vieri, but the recent crop of Englishmen have shown themselves to be spoilt brats unwilling to accept responsibility for their misdemeanours. Recent football documentaries have also shown players reacting badly to be called for extra training, refusing to accept that partaking this sort of extra work is vital to improve their mental and tactical attributes. Sadly this enforces the views of the public that their heroes are completely divorced from the struggles of normal society, worsened by tweets from those such as Jamie O’Hara.

It is no surprise then that England have one of the worst penalty shoot-out records in history. With a bunch of players too busy pondering their next electronic gadget purchase, psyching them up to compete with their foreign counterparts is difficult. The constant sense of victim-hood and formation of ‘cliques’ has been problematic, as many players refuse to attempt to catch up on technical, tactical and mental areas has left England in the doldrums. Most are complacent, blaming their inadequate grassroots development as something that has permanently impaired their potential. In addition, it is clear the ridiculous number of competitive schoolboy matches is a problem brought on by parents, who have failed to realise the importance of allowing their little Johnny to fully develop his technique in a relaxed environment.

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(clockwise from top left) hargreaves, gascoigne, ronaldo, terry, baggio)

Manager

Although Roy Hodgson can be seen as a capable manager with attributes many see as “suitable” in terms of managing the young players he needs to bring in, he is essentially a “yes-man” character. Most of success has been achieved with middling clubs such as Fulham (whom he took to the Europa League final); however when in charge of a big club such as Inter Milan he was seen as an overall failure.

The national team is in a state of transition, so it would advisable for the FA to keep Roy until Euro 2016. However, by then the petulant nature of the players will be giving hints of growing dissatisfaction with Roy, but this will be brought by the inevitable growing friction over time. Unfortunately, once Roy leaves, only then will they appreciate his man-management skills as it is likely the next incumbent will be under pressure to achieve better results.

sitts boys

Sitton, Hodgson, Redknapp

I watched a series of interviews with disgraced former manager John Sitton, who was castigated for his tirades at his beleaguered players at Leyton Orient during 1994-95. He stated the England manager’s job has provided a golden chance for Roy to implement a wholly-new structure of management with the FA. Sadly, if the FA knew the man they were employing was capable of that, it is most likely they would have not selected Roy. This could provide reason as to why Harry Redknapp was refused the job; his infamously confrontational nature despite his strong man-management would have sent shockwaves through the FA’s headquarters.

Ultimately, do you feel that such an underwhelming set of players that belong to such an outdated grassroots culture along with a celebrity-obsessed British popular culture deserve true success? True success where the England National team reaches the semi-finals consistently? Therefore making a rotten Football Association feel like they have done their jobs well despite years of preaching the values of pragmatic, high tempo styles?

I personally do not.

Gary admits he was not truly upset when England exited tournaments

Gary Neville admits he was not truly upset when England exited tournaments

Where will England finish at next World Cup?

— Actually, will they even qualify?

As it stands, England are two points behind Montenegro with both having played four games. Thankfully, England’s next game is against San Marino, but after that is (*sigh*) an away game to the mighty Montenegrins. Their success can be seen as even more phenomenal that of the Croatians; they only have a population over 600,000 and have only been in existence (as an FIFA-affiliated side) for six years. Sadly, with the turmoil surrounding the England over the past year especially, the difficult blend of youth and experience with none of the quality players in their mid-twenties will provide many sleepless nights for Roy. Of course, if England do lose against Montenegro, how will Roy deal with the deteriorating morale?

monts

Stevan Yovetic (8)

Sadly, it appears England most likely will face a home-and-way play-off match in November and the UEFA’s blatant hatred towards the English may prove pivotal to forcing England to face Portugal or France. Despicably, if the Spain lose their away match to France and finish second in their group, could UEFA show their true colours and pitch the English against the Spaniards?

However, if England do qualify for the next year’s World Cup, their chances will depend on who they are drawn with for the first group. With the inevitable dramatic drop from the mighty highs of third position (lol) in the FIFA world rankings to possibly eleventh or twelfth, England will be placed in the second-rate European countries’ pot. As a result, they will be forced to play one of the big-guns from Pot A. In addition, they could be drawn up against a heavily-improving Japan, a technically-gifted South American side or an enthusiastic, athletic African set of youngsters. It’s widely-said they are no dummies in international football, but it seems the prospects of being drawn against a stumbling set of veterans from the Caribbean or a tenacious but naive team of newcomers from Africa or Asia appear remote.

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Murray, Rooney, Messi, Hart

—————(NOTE: this report becomes a load of fiction)———————-

If England succeed in progressing from the first round (very unlikely to win the group however), they will probably have a match with their worst enemies Argentina. It will probably prove to be a highly-scoring match where any concept of being able to defensively mark an opponent completely disappears. Whoever England play with (Rooney, Sturridge, Walcott) will rip into the Argie back-four with pace, but the prodigal genius of Messi will keep the Argies in the match. In the dying seconds of injury time, a clumsy Ardie tackle brings sprightly Theo down and the referee (having been biased against England) astonishingly gives a penalty to the Three Lions. Rooney places the ball onto the penalty spot, but then veteran journeyman Glenn Murray shoves him away and subsequently smashes a cracking spotkick into the top corner, out of the keeper’s reach. Murray succeeds in achieving the ultimate rags-to-riches glory moment, soaking up the roar of the jubilant England fans but Rooney is fuming with sheer resentment.

With the game going into extra-time with uncharacteristically high score of 3-3, the players’ tiring legs sees the game slows down to a dribble of poorly-crafted half-chances at goal. With only two minutes remaining of extra-time, Argentina pounce on the counter-attack with substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi taking the ball away from a stumbling Glen Johnson, then produces a wonderful piece to turn Joleon Lescott inside out. With every English defender cleared, Lavezzi spots Messi strolling inside from the left, promptly squares it to the maestro who is greeted with headbutt into his chest by Joe Hart…

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lavezzi, glen johnson, lescott

…but yet despite the ferocity of the headbutt, Messi somehow manages to chip the ball over Hart. No English defender is able to chase and prevent the ball dipping into an empty net.

Whilst Messi receives treatment with his team-mates more concerned with his condition than having progressed to the quarter-finals, Hart is shown a red card for his moment of madness. Incredibly, after Hart turns around to see Messi’s condition and apologise to his team-mates, Rooney punches the referee and then races towards Hart and strikes a fearsome kick into Hart’s backside.

Along with his inevitable red card and respective thirty-match suspension, Rooney is sentenced to a ten-month prison sentence for two counts of GBH and assault. During his stay at a Brazilian prison, Rooney’s ordeal proves so tortuous that after been assaulted, hair-wax attacked (with all his pubes gone) and forced to perform oral sex on a sexually-confused cannabis grower, he escapes prison half-way through his sentence. It is claimed by the people who found him after he escaped prison that he had befriended chimpanzees and rhinos in the Amazon. When they found him, he had allegedly screamed, “Leave me alone in peace cruel world! I am not one of yous (sic) anymore like!”

hazzas

lukaku, hazard, dembele, fellaini, vermaelen

In their quarter match against Belgians, the Argies bow out in an extremely shameful 3-0 defeat, which a bed-ridden Messi is claimed to screamed when the third Belgian goal was scored, “You useless bunch of wankers! How on earth am I one of you twat-faces? I should played for Spain!”

In a subsequent interview after this match, Messi claims even if he had been able to play there would have been no change in the performance or result for Argentina. Consequently, he announces his retirement from international football and that he will mutually agree to end his contract with Barcelona to move to Tranmere Rovers.

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