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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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The Journalist

Writer: Vital Arsenal member Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday September 27 2007

Time: 2:00PM

Your Comments

Niece piece Amos. Very thought provoking, it will be interesting to see the thoughts of rival supporters.
Rocky7
I think the thoughts of rival supporters will be all too predictable. But I live in hope.
Amos.
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««
Wingston75
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.
michael105uk
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
afri-gooner
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).
iceman10
Amos, top bombing son. i really enjoyed that. I couldn't give a flying toss what rival supporters think personally.
hatespur
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
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
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.
Andy-bayor
Ozi you must have seen a different Porto team to me if you think they played "free-flowing" football. They were the most boring team ever to win the C.L. Benitez' Valencia were all long ball too.
hatespur
Ozi and HS, I dunno about the Valencia but Porto must have been the most organised team to win(read boring) CL. JMs style has always been short terms as Mgrs where he motivates the team with Us vs them mentality and have a very rigid game of not allowing the opponents to score. (except for the final ofcourse)
questforavalon
Sorry but did any of you ever watch Porto under Mourinho or Valencia under Benitez play in their domestic leagues? Both teams did play attacking football. Once you get to the knock out stages of the CL wether you are Porto, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barca or Milan there will always be a certain degree of 'boring' football played as ther is so much at stake, does anybody remember our away games against Villareal and Juventus or the home leg against Madrid? We tried to cancel each team out and hold on to our first leg leads but it made for a more interesting game than when Chelsea or Pool do it cos quite honestly we are horrible at containment.
Ozi Gooner
in the Champions Youth Cup that took place in M'sia recently, the Arsenal team played exactly the same system that we see at Ashburton Grove. more enjoyabel than watching England B team or U21 team play.
fcdematthew
Well written Amos, I've been banging on about this for ages, mainly in countenance to the jilted opinions of jealous spuds. The FA should really be given a collective slap due to the criminal neglect of our youngsters and lack of quality coaching. What is most enlightening is the quotes attributed to the young Arsenal lads, who state themselves that they love to pass the ball about while the rest of the guys just lump it upfield. This is the English disease in football, we are STILL lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to freedom of expression, tight, technical passing, and creative play. There is nothing but the systematic churning out of athletes, not players, from most youth structures at the grass roots level. Yes this makes for big strong fast athletic chaps, but with trailing technical skills, what’s the point? To be able Lump another ball forward? Please, give me a break. As has been said many times on here before, look through the young squads in the England set up and you get to see the real picture, loads of young Arsenal lads permeate all the youth squads from the under 20’s downwards. And your point has real validity:- If we are providing the highest possible level of technical coaching, shouldn’t the national team be at least on par if not better? Because if it’s not, it is only serving to stifle the natural development of our future talent. Not just from an Arsenal perspective, but also a National. It really grinds my gears to the point of apoplectic rage when we get accused of being bad for the English game, when the English game has been killing itself for years.
Gunnerman
long balls + Pace + physical = english football! It is just kill the creativity of any good player! Player like fabregas control the pace of the game , make it slow and bring it back fast ! but in normal english teams the pace is high all the game which is so naive! to see carrick the best english passer and can't make it to the starting 11 of england does tell much about english football!
Gooner SA
Ozi... Valencia were known for winning games 1-0 when Benitez was in charge and Porto were awful to watch just like Chelsea. Both Rafa and Jose believe in a very rigid and structured style of play its effective but awful to watch. Did anyone watch the Barca game last night? The football they play is top notch + Messi is a dream to watch.
gunner1981
Don't know about Valencia but i have to agree with Ozi that Porto under mourihno actually played some good football.
AB_Arsenal
In the article I referred to Lansbury talks about the tournament win over Brazil "When we roughed them up they didn't like it. When we put in a few hard tackles they didn't want to know.." So our boys are being coached in the dark arts of british grit. What English football fails to understand is that Brazil will gain more form their defeat than we will from the victory. They will learn to cope with the rough stuff we will only have learned how to stop others playing and not how to play ourselves. Who would your money be on to come back and kick whose arses in 5 to 10 years time?
Amos.
Excellent piece, Amos. Offers an interesting insight, and the thought of these kids being influenced by English coaching isnt pleasant. But I will take small comfort from the fact that this influence on the youngsters cannot and will not drastically change the Arsenal style of play of these kids, since they spend relatively less time on national duty.
prits
Superb piece Amos, well thought out and bang on the money IMO. I've always had a bit of a problem for a number of reasons (supporting players you spend most of your time hating for example, never mind the ott patriotism and fervour that inevitably follow ingerland to every tournament) But one of my main problems is I'm half Dutch and as such grew up watching the major tournaments with my eye on both national teams... I just can't abide the English "passion and grit" style of football and can't for the life of me understand why the FA aren't addressing what is clearly a huge problem. Why is it England very rarely produces players of a caliber that are actively pursued by top clubs in other leagues? Why is it England consistantly disappoint in every major tournament, normally going out to a -wait for it- technically better team? If I had my way, I'd not alow our English lads to play for the national side until the FA pulled their finger out and provided decent coaching from grass roots up, I don't want any Arsenal player tarnished by the utter $h!te that passes for coaching in the national set up.
KaoTeK
*waits for sir gromit and the like to start spouting of what a disgrace we are for holding such views*
KaoTeK
KaoTek I hope you aint saying that SirHarry and Gromit are the same person...LOL
gunner1981
talking abt sirharry its been a long time sice we saw that geezer eh....shud we file a missing report?
karley
say his name five times into the mirror karley, I dare ya!
kenny lunt
gunner1981 call me an old cynic but the similarities seem more than coincidental to me.....
KaoTeK
Karley: Methinks he waited until he thought everyone had forgotten his shameful attack on LD then re-invented himself as this gromit character, foolishly forgetting to also re-invent his oh-so boring and predictable opinions... LOL @ Kenny, nice one mate....
KaoTeK
lol guys i'm missing Sir Harry the most. had quite a few interesting battles with him, and also that cusop fellow. he was here giving me big time before we smashed them at the lane, and now he's no where to be seen even on his own site..
luckys_10
It is so interesting that this discussion came up today, because I just saw this article in newsnow's Arsenal feed. http://www.teamtalk.com/football/story/0,16368,1766_2759778,00.html .The director of Football development for the children praises Arsenal Academy for producing footballers like Lansbury who have been in Arsenal System since he was 9.
questforavalon
Luckys you probably won't see cusop until next pre-season, when I'm sure he'll be telling all and sundry how this really IS gonna be totteringham's year and haha Arsenal are in decline...... PS Saw you mention you're based in the East.....where-abouts?
KaoTeK
Hats off to you Amos - an article like this has been LONG overdue in my book. I'm getting sick to death of having to keep putting the record straight with regard to this issue. Spot on with the 'qualifications' dig - I'm lucky enough to be involved in youth football first hand, managing one of our local towns youth squads, and think that the coaching qualifications are worth nothing when it comes to improving the technical ability of our young players.........a good example being our local rivals - flying high, played quality football and had a team full of talented youngsters. The manager, who had previously been letting them train in (what I'd call) a more free-flowing vein, then got sent off to do his level 1 coaching badge (an FA requirement these days). He's now lost his edge, the team are struggling, training has become more rigid and is now nothing more than the conveyor-belt style that the FA churn out (makes me SO MAD!). Anyone can be sent for their badge at this level, regardless of whether they have ANY knowledge of the game or not - some of the people I have seen going for their badge shouldn't have any involvement in kids football - they're more interested in playing the 'I'm a football manager' part to their mates then actually being genuinely interested in bringing our kids on. (Although, I would like to point out that there are still some very genuine people out there that ARE trying, giving up their time and money simply for the love of the game) I believe that the FA are directly responsible for stifling/diluting our kids natural development. (We are lucky enough to have a coach that allows our kids to develop naturally, and has enough foresight to go abroad to broaden his knowledge, using methods from South America, Spain, Italy and not just the FA standard - hence our excellent pre-season results of 10-1, 10-0 and 10-9, the latter being against a team 2 years our senior!) English youth football at grass roots level is IN A STATE!! It's about time the FA did something beyond this red-tape/beurocratic approach that they have now! .......Really well put Amos - I notice that the sp*ds fans have steered clear of this one :-)
BergkampsBoot
KaoTek that is if the spuddies remain in the premier league next season :d, and i'm from bombay, india. and our club is huge here. you won't believe it, but if yu are watching the game at a sports cafe or something, you'll get the feeling yu're in england. the rivalry between arsenal and united supporters is huge here. and chelsea are the most hated club here too ;)..
luckys_10
Right on the money Amos... This is like the 33rd comment on this article and not ONE from a non-arsenal fan... I wonder why...
Spartan Gooner
yeah, but the likes of west ham and man city are doing awesome job with their youth teams, producng very creative players. lets hope the rest of epl follow and learn from the masters-us!enal
korodon
To concur with others a good article with food for thought, but rather than jump on the bandwagon and condemn everything British(English) I perhaps wonder if we might take another look at the problem. In the 50's a team from Hungary descended on our shores; this little known team had the cheek to play beautiful football the world stood in wonder. During the 50's a team known as the Busby Babes had English stars such as Duncan Edwards, Bobby Charlton etc who would even today hold their own with the best on display(IMO). Bertie Mee, George Graham etc had a style of of producing teams that gave us success; why? The English brand of football has always been a very strong defense; and robust footballers. Our present manage the Boss is a freak he is without doubt (IMO) one of the finest managers I have ever witnessed. Can anyone say the England team with Bobby Moore as Captain and Banks(IMO) the greatest goal keeper ever where rubbish? Brazil were lucky to beat them (IMO) and if Banks had not had a serious injury we may have won a further world cup. The European style (that includes all the famous Italian teams) during those years was one goal up close the shop down. Throughout the years various areas of the world have produced a different brand, which has managed to change the way the beautiful game is played. Our coaching stocks are down, we don't appear to have much coming through, why? I believe we do have the Young English players around,but the way to combine them into an elite football forces seems to be amiss. The answer, don't know; suspect the silly 90 rule could be one lack of FA funds another.
alwaysgunner
“It has a number of interesting points including the fact no club provided more players for the squad than Arsenal” – very true but also very convenient of you to pick just one of the England youth teams. Could you not also mention the Under 16’s where THFC and Man Utd have the most players (3 each) and AFC has one? ….http://www.thefa.com/England/U16s/Players/…..I am sure that you will want to forget about the Under 21’s and the Senior team. I do have to agree that the overall coaching in this Country is far from perfect but as alwayasagunner pointed out, there have been some excellent English teams that have played football the way that all fans love to see the game played – however, as expected, he forgot to mention the famous “push and run” Arthur Rowe teams (many independent and knowledgeable football pundits called the “push and run” system the precursor to “total football”) of THFC as well as the free flowing teams of the Bill Nicholson era – both of those eras showed the world how football should be played. Even as a rival, it would only be a fool to say that Wenger does not have the same philosophy and he has turned your club from the boring time of George Graham et al to a team that plays exciting and open football – any Manager/Coach to implement that philosophy, into players, needs applauding – it is a shame that the FA does not implement the same at grass root level but if you have people like Howard Wilkinson at the FA, what possible chance does English football have?
GilzeanIsKing
I will stand corrected - I see that the latest Under 16's does have more AFC players. My aplogies.
GilzeanIsKing
The kids grow up so quick as you will now see that the latest Under 17's squad does not have any AFC players and nor does the Under 18's or Under 19's.
GilzeanIsKing
Jerome Thomas - 20 striker / winger Sanchez Watt – 17 striker/winger Ryan Smith - 16 striker Jay Simpson – 21 striker Theo Walcott - 18 striker Rhys Murphy –17 striker John Spicer - 20 midfielder Henri Lansbury – 18 midfielder James Dunne – 18 Midfielder Jay Emmanuel-Thomas- 17 midfielder Thomas Cruise –16 – midfielder Gavin Hoyte – 18 defender Paul Rodgers – 18 defender Rene Steer – 18 defender Abu Ogogo – 18 defender Justin Hoyte - 18 defender Kieran Gibbs – 18 defender Anton Blackwood – 17 defender Kyle Bartley – 16 defender Luke Ayling – 17 defender Craig Eastwood – 18 defender The future is bright, for us and the national team, these English boys make up 85% of our youth/reserve teams. We will see them come through, play astonishingly good football, and laugh at the xenophobic fools who derided Arsenals policy.
Gunnerman
I was right the first time; Andros Townsend, Adam Smith, Ryan Mason, Saulo Asajile, Kyle Fraser Allen are all current England Under 16 internationals and are in the THFC Academy. According to FA website, AFC has 3. How many of these players makes the grade at top level is debatable because these days if you are going to be a star then you are in the first team at 18 and you will go right into U21 England squad or even the Senior squad (a la Rooney, Owen or Lennon). Therefore, I see no value in Under 19 or Under 20 teams - I don't see much value in the Under 21 squads as I think more youth should be brought into an England "B" set up - let the youngsters play against, and with, experience at international level.
GilzeanIsKing
But isn't that the problem GIK? You bring up Bill Nicholson, but that was nearly half a century ago and England has done nothing toprogress it's coaching since then. Howard Wilkinson was actually the matermind of the academy that was set to rival Clarefontaine, which the F.A refused to fund, it strikes me that he and Brooking are the ones trying to make the moves to imrpove, but the F.A are happy to tighten the pursestrings and just blame Johnny Foreigner.
Little Dutch
That's entirely the problem. We can all feel smug, from time to time, about how many players we have at whatever level in the national squads but if the level of coaching is not at the very least as good as that at club level then what benefit do we get from it at club, player or national level? Playing the blame game which the FA and it's more blinkered supporters are prone to do simply masks the lack of investment in creative coaching programs which results in a shortage of quality english coaches for the national sides and ultimately the deficit in player technique and quality that we have compared to our international competitors.
Amos.
Little Dutch - I totally agree with you. It pains me deeply that the FA is so inept and short sighted (I will stand corrected if you say that Wilkinson was pushing for an Academy to rival the best in Europe but I am very sceptical of that person and feel that he is just another "yes man" with no drive). It also pains me that we cannot find an English Coach (for the England team) to match the likes of Wenger - I am not a racist or xenophobic but I am patriotic and a traditionalist and feel that England should be managed by an Englishman ( I know McClaren is but he is also useless). It has been like it for most of my lifetime (exceptions being Sir Alf and El Tel) - it is also the same for the players - you get a gifted player years ahead of anybody else (according to Wenger) and yet Hoddle was always a "bit part player" for England - other flair players have suffered the same. The article is correct in that English Coaches seem to want a "Vinnie Jones" type player as opposed to a "Liam Brady" type of player. Very sad.
GilzeanIsKing
GIK I did not forget Arthur Rowe or Bill Nicholson, (failed to mention Reeves of Leeds and Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker and Kevin Keagan etc) I wanted to make a point that there had been very good English players in the past and that there were still good young British(English) players around capable of making the grade. However the lack of coaching various rules etc seems to be the main culprit hindering the England team to once take its place as a powerhouse of football. We have the material but lack the ability to develop and produce a good team. I still believe there is a place for the Tony Adams, Roy Keane type of defenders in the England set up; which supporters on this site sometimes say we lack. Nevertheless we are missing the funds that the FA should be putting into Football, and perhaps need to follow examples from overseas.
alwaysgunner
Bang on GIK, I think Matt Le Tissier is the best recent example I can think of with regards to your Hoddle example. He was one of the most technically gifted players I've ever seen (ironically, raised in the channel islands) and yet he was totally ignored by all, except, ironically, Hoddle.
Little Dutch
Luckys... last time i was in india (99) everyone thought my away shirt was a brazil shirt ahaha... good to hear things have changed although everywhere i went i could catch matches...
KaoTeK
Totally agree with some of the comments made regarding coaching stocks ... it does seem that coaching at younger levels in the FA set up. is very focused on the long ball. Not saying its always a bad idea but not as game long strategy. British football has always been faster and more physical than on the continent, yet England has always tried to play to our opposition, not stick to natural elements of our games which led to so many European cups in previous years. Surely there is place for a blended approach. A very interesting piece by Amos spoiled by some idiot comments made by a clown called KaoTeK ... have you ever had an original thought of your own?
Gromit
lol KaoTek, tats funny, where were yu in in India? and things have changed big time here. cricket is still the sport of the masses here, but in the big cities, football has taken over, and the new generation is taking more to football than cricket. and btw spuds are the most hated club in india too :d..
luckys_10
 

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