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Is England Bad For Arsenal?

Is England Bad For Arsenal?

Having just read an interesting article in the current Arsenal magazine which featured three of the Arsenal contingent who played for England in the recent FIFA U17 World Cup I turned back to the piece I read earlier in Paul Mersons regular column in the same magazine.

Merse reflects on Trevor Brookings recent call for better coaching to meet the need to improve the technical ability of young English players. In his article Merse agrees with this and says the English system didn`t improve his technical ability. He regrets the fact that we lag behind in technical ability and depth of quality and puts the responsibility for this partly in the hands of English coaches "….my faith in these coaches is also not good. I`ve seen them first hand and they don`t instil confidence. They pick up their coaching 'qualifications` easily enough but there is no creativity as far as I can see. No innovative training and very little emphasis on technical skills."

I have for sometime thought that part of the failure of English national teams at all levels is due to a culture in the English game that doesn`t appreciate the need to coach in a way that enhances natural ability instead of stifling it to conform to rigid coaching conventions. It surely can`t be a coincidence that many flair players originate from third world countries and the freedom of south american beaches and open spaces. There players develop ability naturally before being taught the demands of team play. English football has never taken coaching seriously enough. It surely can`t be entirely coincidental that no english coach/manager has been able to win the PL. There is a laziness in football that has lead the FA to over commit resources to the unnecessary 'cathedral` of Wembley at the cost of an academy to improve the level of both coaches and players. The same laziness that Nick Hornby, in considering the value of being able to pass the ball, once decided makes English managers, coaches and players favour "alternative methods of moving the ball from one part of the field to another, the chief of which is a wall of muscle strung across the half way line in order to deflect the ball in the general direction of the forwards"

The item in the magazine on our three U17 players that prompted this reflection on my part interviews Rhys Murphy, Henri Lansbury and Gavin Hoyte about their experiences in the tournament. It has a number of interesting points including the fact no club provided more players for the squad than Arsenal and that over 5 and 15 metres Gavin Hoyte is the fastest player at the club. But the parts that gave me pause for thought concerns the coaching that our boys received while with the England set up. Rhys Murphy says " It`s a different type of service, more long balls. Arsenal have their own style, which we are used to, it`s the way we are taught…different from any other club. In a way that works against us when we play for England." In talking about the difference between Arsenal and other players in the England team Henri Lansbury says "…us three pass the ball around a lot, and the others prefer to smash it!"

On this and other gooner forums we often find ourselves robustly defending the argument, borne out of naked envy, that Arsenal is bad for English football. But for me there is now a flip side to this question. If the coaching is as poor as it appears to be - Is English football any good for Arsenal?

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Writer:Vital Arsenal member Amos
Date:Thursday September 27 2007
Time: 2:00PM


Niece piece Amos. Very thought provoking, it will be interesting to see the thoughts of rival supporters.
27/09/2007 14:08:00
I think the thoughts of rival supporters will be all too predictable. But I live in hope.
27/09/2007 14:19:00
yes, i echo that - superb, Amos. Let's sit back and wait for the usual suspects to come along and offer insightfullness like 'well, why don't you **** off to france then' and similar utterances of ****e. At Arsenal we teach our youngsters to play the game the right way, not the hoof and hack policy much favoured by so many in england... »»Arsene Knows««
27/09/2007 14:29:00
ditto, good piece amos. It's clear that there is an Arsenal way - pass and move, comfortable on the ball whilst looking up - Cesc and Ronaldo are great exponents of this - they can run with the ball without needing to look at it - those little looks up before/after the ball arrives gives the illusion that they have more time than other players who don't possess this skill. The young English players we put through the system also have this ability - Sidwell, Pennant, Bentley are three now plying their trade elsewhere who also show this.
27/09/2007 14:29:00
Most rival supporters don't actually show themselves when they know we are right and better than them, so I'm afraid you won't find out what they think, with a few exceptions
27/09/2007 14:29:00
For me there is no argument. The youth system we had in place pre Wenger had to be completely scrapped and a new one formed, Arsenal and England will reap the benefits in the future. There should be no cutting corners and no quick fixes when it comes to Youth development and Wenger knew it would take a minimum 10-15 years until English players of the correct quality where developed through our own system. Others will ask why we dont buy as many English players as some other teams? Well if you've been trained in the Mcdonalds/Burger King youth system then your hardly gonna be ready to cook and prepare food in a michelin starred restraunt are you? I think even young Theo is struggling to adapt to a completley different style of coaching (although im very confident he will make the grade with us).
27/09/2007 14:29:00
Amos, top bombing son. i really enjoyed that. I couldn't give a flying toss what rival supporters think personally.
27/09/2007 14:29:00
I think this is what they call taking a horse to the water. Not for the first time in my life, I would like to see some hardcore drinking.
Little Dutch
27/09/2007 14:30:00
Well as you all know I'm not even English so I dont give a flying ***** about that over paid and over hyped bunch of egomaniac 'individuals' that call themselves the English national team. Without the bias of being a supporter of England I would say that yes, it probably is bad for Arsenal, but not just for Arsenal but for the English game as a whole. For one example look at two of the best foreign coaches to have come to England in Mourinho and Benitez whose previous teams played free-flowing attacking football in Europe and Portugal and Spain respectively, yet when they manage here the style of football they are up against week in week out forced them to create boring sides that are really nothing more than more succesful and expensive versions of Bolton under Allardyce, relying on cattenacio and longball styles with a flash of individual brilliance form a Drogba or a Gerrard to win games - Sam could look a lot better to if he could afford Stevie G. Even Jol is a good example, a manager who has tried to bring his Dutch style of football to a club while trying to keep the English back bone of the team and the players just dont fit the system so although they are at times attractive they leak goals like a broken faucet. It is no surprise England fail to succeed on the big stage time and again with the lack of managerial creativity and courage, continually playing Gerrard and lampard in the same side is a perfect example of this, it is sacrificing a good system and style of play for egos and a possible 30 yard goal, but hey they will allblame Arsenal as they need someone to blame.
Ozi Gooner
27/09/2007 14:30:00
Point well-made Amos - and without fanfare or ridicule, which is more than can be said about some of our bitterest opponents. I'd agree that the culture needs improving. I see it every time I go to play at my local footy centre - whether it's on neighbouring pitches or even our opponents. The teams that take the game more seriously have a coach of some sort and they always focus on strength, organisation, and grit. They just bark at the players military-style. Getting out-passed or out-run to the ball? Simple - close 'em down, push them off, elbows up! It's the same grassroots and Sunday league upwards. While football needs a certain amount of 'warrior' characteristics, it shouldn't be at the expense of teaching the more technical stuff.
27/09/2007 14:40:00
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