Myths are more common in folklore than reality but the notion that the Premier League is ruining the national team’s excursions is frankly nothing more than fiction. Yes the British players are outnumbered and yes there should be more home grown players in the twenty teams that make up the top league. However it is the overpricing of British players that is killing the Premier League and the home nations squads.
The FAW opened a £5 million development centre in 2013, aimed at unearthing and honing the future of Welsh football. Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford delivered an upbeat statement at the time by stating, ”For the first time we have our own centre of excellence, our own national development centre and a facility which will be home to all the best coaches and payers”. To say that this is a coo for Chris Coleman would be stating the obvious, as the facility will be used as a base for the national team also. Just like St George’s Park, the facility will be a boost for youngsters across Wales, that now have a top facility to be coached at. All the while, this will only bear fruits that can play international football if they are playing at a high standard at club level.
There is one Chelsea player that is going against my critique of British players and that is Josh McEachren, who has also joined Vitesse Arnhem. If there was ever an example of a player that is suited to continental football, it is the diminutive play maker. He is the type of player that pundits bemoan that England cannot produce, that many managers have disregarded in favour of better athletes as opposed to footballers.
Take Mark Noble for example. He is West Ham personified and is the player that sparks the Hammers build up play and engineers their attacking fluency. He rarely loses possession and can track back as a result of playing for an unfashionable club. This in itself rubbishes the preconception that football is stuck in the past and bereft of British talent.
Add to this the likes of Nick Powell and Tom Lawrence and we see a promising Premier League with opportunities for youngsters. The duo have left Manchester United to join Leicester City, which shows the hunger to play football and in turn, help England and Wales internationally.
For what it’s worth the coaching and love of football in Brazil and Spain is overriding of other sports and makes both generally superior. Kids play football with socks on street corners in Brazil while Spain puts all it’s resources into coaching youngsters in tiki-taka football. Beaches are adorned with people kicking footballs and practising tricks.
Here the culture is one where football, rugby, cricket, tennis, swimming and other sports are played in spades. Football may lead the way by some margin although this is counter productive when up and coming players are shunned and left to rot in the reserves, playing matches in empty stadiums.
Management Style in British Football
Upheaval is a regular occurrence at most football clubs and change will inevitably happen from time to time. When it does happen, the incoming manager will bring in his own players-this goes without question. That said, should managers not look to play a certain way or should football clubs try and promote an ethos in the way Barcelona do? Everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet and the pyramid of power from top to bottom is all arrowing in the same direction.
That is to play a free flowing, expansive brand of football. Spanish teams in particular try to patiently pass and probe their way up the field whereas it is often the case that in Britain the crowd will become irate in the absence of excitement. They value organisation, grit and heart. They enjoy the physicality of seeing their centre forward harry a ball playing centre half. They urge their team forward at every opportunity and can hound players that play a stray pass.
This is not a criticism but a fact and one that sees many teams play passing football, incorporated with a focal figure upfront. Stoke do this with Peter Crouch, Arsenal with Olivier Giroud, Chelsea with Diego Costa, Man City with Dzeko, Everton with Lukaku. The latter is perhaps the most adequate reference in that Everton are like a subuteo team, whereby every pass is pinpoint to a blue shirt. Despite this they still use the burly Belgian as a figure of prominence in pressing higher up the pitch.
What I am trying to convey is that the Premier League and British football will remain frenetic, physical and fast paced. It is not in our nature to be patient, nor is it in our nature to roll around as if we have been party to a Western stand off. Our teams pass the ball, they punt it forward, they lunge in to tackles wholeheartedly, they are less concerned with possession statistics. All of this will take time to change and many parts needn’t be changed. On the international stage, keeping the ball is everything in the main. Having said this it shouldn’t be exhausted and the target man provides a fully functional British alternative.