English Football: Where do we go from here?

Taken from The White House Address

Where do we go from here? What is wrong with English football? Too many foreign players many say, and we have to overhaul the FA guidelines  to create the next Pirlo, Xavi or Iniesta. Yet, I believe that many have missed the point completely. 


We aren’t creating the next Xavi, Iniesta or Pirlo for no other reason than that has never been the British mentality. To change that mentality isn’t to just overhaul the FA guidelines based upon the style of booting the ball up to a target man and having hard tackling midfielders. Many of the current coaches now and always will have that mentality. 


It is to change the mentality is  to bring in more foreign players and more foreign coaches. It’s counter-productive in the sense that the English players don’t get the limelight, or may have restricted opportunities to eventually reach the first team, but if you look at it the other way, it can change the British mentality.


In countries like Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina and Italy. They all play football with flair. In Britain we base our game on long ball football, with hard tackling midfielders and the likes. However, this type of game has slowly progressed to become lower league football. 


Now in the Premier League, alot of the best players (disregarding Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere) are foreign. These players play towards the mentality of the foreign managers, therefore young English players aren’t coming through at the top teams. They have the wrong mentality, they’ve been taught the wrong mentality and so many promising young players are eventually sold to lower league teams.  


Playing with foreign players allows the young English players to develop as players. The styles and mentality that they bring with them benefits young players around them. Case in point, Jack Wilshere.


Jack Wilshere is the only real exception to the rule, for no other reason than, he has always been playing in an Arsene Wenger stylised academy. Wenger’s teams have always been based on flair and creativity and naturally, that has been brought down to the lower levels of Arsenal’s academy. 


Wenger has always bought young foreign players too, of which Wilshere has been playing with ever since he joined Arsenal. This changes Wilshere’s mentality and allows him to develop differently as a player compared to many other British talents.

Jack Wilshere- The only real exception (Taken from The Telegraph)

Manchester City have just let go of Joan Roman to Barcelona B. Joan Roman was seen as a promising youngster and he still is, but he has moved to Barca B to further his career. Where does that leave Manchester City’s young players then?


The English players in Manchester City’s youth system will undoubtedly have improved with players with the flair and creativity of Joan Roman and so in essence his 3 year stay in English football (despite not playing one first team game) will have benefited his English City team mates such as Harry Bunn and Jordi Hiwula. 


Unfortunately, City’s youth team fails with the coaches. Andy Welsh is not good enough nor has the right mentality to develop alot of these players into the quality that Manchester City now require. Therefore, alot of players aren’t good enough for Manchester City to promote to the first team. 


City’s best young talents? Denis Suarez, Abdul Razak, Karim Rekik and John Guidetti. All now train with the first team rather than in Welsh’s youth set up. In the last year, Guidetti has improved hugely, not by staying at City but being nurtured elsewhere. Expect Welsh to be replaced with a foreign coach in the next few years.


Bringing in foreign coaches to the academies also changes the mentality and playing style of the players. From a young age, these players are playing in a style that can benefit the English game. Therefore these players would develop differently and eventually England will have their Pirlo, Xavi and Iniesta to compete at the top. 


These English coaches will offer 4-4-2, the tactic often chosen by the English coaches is seen as too old-fashioned in countries like Spain. Spanish teams give players license to roam and often 4-2-3-1 is their formation of choice, to allow players to play with flair. 4-4-2 is far too restrictive, and therefore it isn’t successful. 


There is only one top team to utilise the formation. Tottenham. Last season coached by English manager, Harry Redknapp. What does Redknapp’s CV boast in English football? One FA Cup, won with Portsmouth. 


Tottenham may have reached the Champions League places under Redknapp, but to compete with the best, they needed to change their mentality and so Andre Villas-Boas, a man who developed his mentality under guidance from Jose Mourinho – largely named the best manager in football – is set to replace him. 


How many English managers have won a major trophy in the last 10 years? Two. Steve McClaren won the Carling Cup with Middlesbrough in 2004 and Harry Redknapp won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008.

McClaren and Redknapp- The only two English manager, in the past decade, to have won a major trophy                  (Taken from Sport Reviews)

Clearly, English coaches need to change – and while FA guideline changes will help that – foreign coaches leading the way in England will help English coaches change their mentality too.


These all have long term effects, bringing in these coaches to coach kids from a young age to develop the right mentality. Eventually, we’ll have our Xavi, Iniesta or Pirlo. 


Eventually, the whole mentality of English football will change, and so English coaches with these sorts of mentalities will develop too and eventually, maybe an English manager can win the Premier League. 




Written by Henry Francis
Follow me on Twitter @TheHenryFrancis


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