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Why England Are Doomed To Failure

Now normally I would not consider wasting my time or energy writing an article about the England national team. This is because the English language cannot furnish me with sufficient vocabulary to properly articluate my apathy regarding the useless shower. But over the last few days, us Gooners have had to once again refute tired arguments regarding the patriation of our squad, as the whole world goes on the defensive about the notion that Arsenal are the only English owned club in the top four.

Once again, knuckle dragging xenophobes recycle tabloid absurdities about how we are apparently destroying the future of the grass roots game in the country. Of course, none of these people have offered a convincing argument beyond tabloid buzz terms about 'English identity' blah, blah, blah etc. of course the first thing the eejits do not care to realise (probably because their copies of the Daily Mail have not told them), is that there were three Arsenal educated players in the England U-21 side on Tuesday night. Hoyte and Bentley, products of our academy, and Walcott, a teenager that is being educated in the Arsenal way (albeit a product of Southampton's conveyor belt of young talent). Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea did not produce a single player between them, while the high and mighty Spuds had one player in the U-21 ranks- Tom Huddlestone, a product of Derby County's academy. So I ask you, who actually is safeguarding the future of English players? But I digress.

With these arguments once again being rehashed in our direction, I decided to forego the France v Argentina game and actually watch the England match. My position on the whole sordid argument has been very clear for some time, but a wise man once said, 'the mark of an intelligent man is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.' As you are all aware, I am a very intelligent man. Maybe I have been missing something? I thought. Maybe there is some mileage in Englsih players? Maybe they CAN fit into our fluid style of aesthetically liquid football? (Of course, there are the prohibitive prices to negotiate, but we'll put that on the backburner).

Well of course, I think the game confirmed what has been wrong with coaching in this country for some time in a most perfunctory manner. England's play was so directionless, so tactically inept and so techincally naive it was embarassing. The approach play had that real under tens park football mentality about it. As soon as England got the ball one of two things would happen. On the rare occasions that England did try and build an attack from the back, it was very much a case of getting the ball as enar to the goal as quickly as is humanly possible and we'll figure something out when we get there. Of course, as players such as Lampard, Gerrard, Crouch and Dyer (his name achingly apt) propelled with longing into blind alleys and cul-de-sacs, attacks would peter out. There was no patience, passes were not elected with any consideration beyond, 'he's close to the goal, I'll pass to him.' There was no patience, it was the footballing equivalent of watching a dog try to hump a stranger's leg.

Once Plan A ran its course with inevitable results, England opted for good old Plan B. Ferdinand gets the ball and hoofs it to Crouch, who, like a wasp constantly flying into a clear glass window, reptitively fouled the Spanish centre half. The monotonous procedure elucidating his complete lack of a football brain. (Remember the goal he had disallowed at the Grove? He was three yards offside, inside the six yard box, and still wheeled away in celebration. That look of half witted stupour spread across his features when he saw the erect flag). Now compare Spain's approach play. Nobody could argue that Spain were incandescant in purely aesthetic terms, they did not blow you away Brazil 1970 style, but their approach was far more measured and considered. Every pass a deliberate process, like a snooker player thinking three shots ahead. Nothing on upfront? O.k, we'll pass it backwards until opportunity presents itself. If England was the stray dog dry humping your leg, Spain were the casual, suave man at the bar, overlooking the dancefloor with composed poise. Knowing he would get his end away eventually, carrying that air of detachment and aloof that makes him so irresistable to the swaying throng of single females. (I'm starting to sound a bit like Swiss Tony here aren't I?)

The point is, the kick and run style of 'up and at 'em' football is just not suited to Arsenal's style of play. Which player in the England side has the technical ability to play for Arsenal? I would say Micah Richards looks to have the readies, but being so hyped so young, one cannot rule out the possibility of him catching a touch of the Ashley's. Carrick is a decent enough player, but he has absolutely nothing on Cesc in terms of vision and guile. The mark of a truly class player is one that makes the game look simple, slow. Observe, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane and our own young upstart Francesc Fabregas. All blessed with that rarest of gifts, players who find time in the most chaotic midfield minefield, Zidane in particular seemed to visibly halt the hands of time. I cannot think of a single player in the current England set up, save possibly Rooney, who has anything approaching this sartorial calm that shocks you to your nebular core.

Now Arsenal's game relies on comfort with the ball, from the goalkeeper forwards, all players must feel at peace with the ball at their feet, show grace under fire. It is clear that, at grass roots level, English kids just are not coached in this way. Coaches prize size and physical power over finesse, and as a result, a causal effect can be seen on the national team. The technical ability does not even nearly match the inflated wages and supersize egoes and consequently, England will always flounder on the international stage. They will always be outthought and outmanouvered by teams who can perform the basics at a rudimentary level. If you want to win a game of football, keeping possession of the ball is such a simple factor that it does not even bare mention. Yet nations such as France, Brazil, Holland etc, etc, etc continue to leave England chugging over the finishing tape long after the rest- like Lampard in an egg and spoon race. England's player of the year is a Canadian who was raised in the Bundesliga. Having learned a continental style of play, he consummately outshone all of England's wasters last summer.

Philosophical inertia is not only restricted to football in this country, the pioneers of post Industrial Revolution England saw the inception of the tube train, of rugby, of football. Industrially as well as in the sporting arena, the British Empire were the trailblazers of the world. Yet a Century on, as other countries take the underground/metro system and take it to new heights of comfort and efficiency, as other European, South American and now African nations facilitate the evolution of the beautiful game, the English refuse to join in. The aloof, 'we invented it, so you cannot tell us what to do with it' attitude permeates our culture. In football, it has been blindingly obvious for something approaching forty years that other nations have taken 'our' product and embelished it with new ideas that we refuse to undertake. In the last twelve months, the Football Association, so paralysed by complicity with the xenophobic media, forewent the considerable footballing genius Guus Hiidink as manager and instead placated their overlords by appointing an inept Englishman.

This month the Football Association appointed Stuart Pearce as PART TIME manager of the U-21s. How can England really expect to be taken seriously on the world stage with a part timer nurturing the grass roots of the national side? Of course, Wenger knows this and has done for some time. But while we are chided for destroying English talent in a fit of prejudiced pique, Wenger is the only manager I can think of remedying this problem at grass roots level. While shunning the inflated price tags and technical hubris's of players like Lampard, Gerrard, Crouch etc, he is nurturing young English talent that is beginning to bear fruit in the academy. Players such as Matthew Connolly, Mark Randall, Jay Simpson, Paul Rodgers are tipped for big futures and have a technical ability and nonchalance with the ball. On Tuesday night, David Bentley, Justin Hoyte and Theo Walcott represented the U-21s, while other big clubs who dodge the nationalist bullet provided nothing. Wenger likes to mould players into his own style of play, observe the effects this had on Thuram, Trezeguet, WEah, Henry and Fabregas. Until the Football Association casts free from the media shackles and acknowledges the coaching inadequacies in this country, they will have to rely on a batch of one off talents like Rooney before they can ever become competitive. Bob Dylan notoriously sang 'The Times They Are A Changin', a call to arms for 1960s counter culture and revolution. The governing bodies timewarp has apparently yet to catch up, while the nationalistic media is setting the agenda, don't expect them to cross the finishing line any time soon. LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 8 2007

Time: 2:46PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
quite simply mcclaren aint up to the job he was the easy and cheap option for the fa.
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08/02/2007 15:00:00

'Cos they're s***, end of. Over hyped, over rated *******s. I saw you ask about Bow Bells yesterday mate. They are in Bow Churchyard, in Bow Lane, just off Cheapside in EC2. I'm not a map writer FYG I work a stone's throw away.
Report Abuse
08/02/2007 15:08:00

LD, you're just being silly with this article. We all know it was the refs fault because Mark Lawrenson spent the whole evening telling us so. Crouch is english so he should be allowed to jump with his arm on the defenders shoulder without a decision going against him. Joey Barton is also english so again he should also be allowed to kick the oppositions legs from behind with no attempt for the ball without a free kick going against him. The spanish players made a meal of every challenge put on them & I know thats true because Mr Lawrenson told us. I did have to laugh at one slip of the tongue though, when he thought he was watching Liverpool & not England, does he not know the difference between England & the USA or has Blair clouded his judgement on that one aswell!!!!
Ashburton Gooner
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08/02/2007 15:17:00

The lack of thought that accompanies an England performance is embarrasing. Also the over hyping of players leads them into a false sense of how good they actually are, Ferdinand for example is nowhere near as good a ball playing defender as Lucio. A proper manager was required to sort out the ego's i.e Hiddink or Scolari but the FA cocked up one appointment and bottled the other (It Was David Dein who wanted both incidently). The way England play is so rigid compared to most Top sides and the lack of pace yesterday was alarming. The FA in another astounding move actually gave Svenclaren a 4 year deal so it looks like were either stuck with him or a massive payout will be required whilst they are still paying Sven!
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08/02/2007 15:25:00

best article i've read on the england team in ages, a fantastic read Tim, nice one! makes me wonder why I took out 90 mins of my life to watch that utter b0llox last night! did enjoy seeing mcclaren get the well deserved abuse at the end though
Report Abuse
08/02/2007 15:40:00

The thing is not even Mclarens fault. He was not ready for the job so he should not have been employed. As us Arsenal fans are always telling people being English is not enough to get you into our team, you actually have to merit your place. Is Mclaren better qualified than Hiddink, Scolari or O'neill, no but he got the job because he was English. End of argument.
Report Abuse
08/02/2007 15:44:00

and cheaper....
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08/02/2007 15:48:00

You can't really blame McLaren, inept as he is, it's a problem with the F.A and their complete reluctance to do anything about it. They're the laziest, most pointless association in the whole world. Having a manager as bad as McLaren just exacerbates the problem. Apologies to Gooners, I know these are points that most of you appreciate and have been through many times, but I'm trying to get at the Spuds and other ignorant fans who constantly jibe at us with their ill informed *****e.
Little Dutch
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08/02/2007 15:53:00

It is our job as gooners to educate the unfortunate!
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08/02/2007 15:59:00

pennant is a prime example of why england will never be good, he had all the tools to make it in the arsenal side but he plateu'd (sp?) before he had even achieved anything - choosing to be out partying, driving (and crashing) expensive cars and being a 'baller' instead of enjoying the game itself
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08/02/2007 16:19:00

Its the poor unfortunates who turned out in the freezing cold having paid the bumbling FA their hard earned cash for tickets and the ultimate insult was for the team to play like that, you have to feel sorry for them. I havent been to an England match in 5 years, until things change why should I or anyone else, its performances like that that reinforce my reasons. Its an absolute disgrace, its little wonder the team / mcclaren got the reaction they did, but I totally agree the FA are the root of the problem.
Report Abuse
08/02/2007 16:24:00

lol iceman. Nice one LD. Go canada!!!
Youngest in Charge
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08/02/2007 16:27:00

The last England game I went to Rene Higuita produced the scorpion kick. It is still the highlight of my England supporting days!
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08/02/2007 16:30:00

It's the same people bangin on at us about having more English players that ensured England were landed with this substandard lump of a manager . The pressure was put on the FA by media and pundits alike to put an Englishman in charge, as only they will have the passion to fulfil the role. I have had it personally from friends and colleagues when I laughed at the idea of Maclaren - 'yeah but you're a gooner so obviously you would'nt want an Englishman'. 'Noooooo you wazzocks!' was my reply 'As an Englishman I want the best available person for the job and unfortunately at this moment in time I can't see any Englishman that's up to the task' Hearing afterwards O'Neill stating that he was'nt even approached and would have taken the post is so frustrating as he would have been a far far better choice, but I guess it's going to take yet another dismal England Euros for this to be resolved. Barwick you are a tool of the highest order.
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08/02/2007 16:59:00

The article is slightly flawed because it is not always the side with the most techinally gifted players that wins tournaments..the key is in organisation and understanding the precise way you want to play and moulding the players into that image, at the moment England look directionless and that is due to inadequate coaching in the short term rather than any longstanding problem..personally I hope international football is scrapped as soon as possible and we can all get back to the real business of club football
Anon 1
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08/02/2007 17:05:00

I doubt England will even make the euro's. We will struggle big time. LD, you didn't mention the fact that Cesc got booed the minute his name was announced as coming on. Absolutely Pathetic!!!
Ashburton Gooner
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08/02/2007 17:06:00

The thing that really gets up my arse is that as poo as they were in the world cup you could see it was Mclaren directing and dictating the play,he was the one on the bench telling what should be done with sven just nodding.if they were that bad then how could anyone with half a kin brain think he is going to make them better afterwards
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08/02/2007 17:25:00

wow, your the man little dutch, seriously, that was an awsome read, thanks ! Watching england the other day, i was not suprised by the performance they put in i mean what do you Expect from a bunch of average players who actually think there class players, and yes im including gerrard in this, just shows how physical power and force is nothing compared to technical players who have the nouse to pass around and be patient waiting for openings to arise instead of charging up and down a nd hitting long balls, i was so bored, but at the same time quite entertained at this insipid display and the nonsense that was too follow from the mouths of the 'experts' in the studio. £18 million for carrick ?? this must make cesc worth £50 mil and xavi the same, eeergh what a horrid display and it will be a while before i put myself through watching another england game !!!!!
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08/02/2007 17:25:00

they were all man u fans of course they booed cesc, they are jealous of him. even the mancs are fed up of watching england, it was a half empty stadium again. you mention Micah Richards who I think is basically an english Eboue. what about dean Ashton. I know he got injured and disappeared off the radar but to me it looks like he wants to play football rather than hoofing it around. but he will no doubt develop bad habits at west ham.
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08/02/2007 17:37:00

good article. i agree with the fact england never tried to pass and keep the ball. instead the played kick and rush. crouch is no good, we need ashton back and soon. carrick should be employed attacking midfield as he cannot defend, hes wasted sitting deep at the back. gerrard must play ahead of lampard when hargreaves is back and lennon on the left, with and rooney on the right. 4-3-3 is the formation that should be employed and 4-5-1 wen defending. Foster Neville Rio Ferdinand John Terry Ashley Cole Owen Hargreaves Steven Gerard Michael Carrick Wayne Rooney Aaron Lennon Dean Ashton and for gods sake try and play patient fotty and the chances will come. trust me.
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08/02/2007 17:38:00

Not all Man Utd fans there was this one GOOONER there gettin strange looks from the rest of the crowd when i began to go crazy as cesc came onto the pitch lol and nor was it a half empty ground there was a little patch in one of the corners free the rest was full
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08/02/2007 18:40:00

Anon1, being well organised and being familiar with your system is a kind of technique. George Graham's Arsenal were a technically gifted European team because they were devoid of ego, the Benfica game taught them a valuable lesson and, though they were boring as f***, they were technically gifted. Chelsea are a technically gifted team, Arsenal lead the field in terms of aesthetics, I don't think England have the players to play that type of game, they won't until the coaching changes. Until that happens, England need to ditch their egos, recognise their limitations and play to their strengths. Unfortunately, the players believ they are superstars and will never go for it, that's why the players run the team. Being aesthetically skilled will add to that spice. In short, England are a long way from world class.
Little Dutch
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08/02/2007 18:51:00

two words sum up the difference between the england side (and thus our 'english heroes') - intelligence and technique. The england players just didnt look to have any, their ineptitude at decision making was staggering. second one, technique - it was a coupel of weeks ago that brady came out and said the first thing arsene asks about one of the academy players is 'what's his technique like?'. Technique is obviously king to arsene. Now think back to last night's debacle. How many times did you see Lampard get the ball in the first half, only to lose it within his first 2 touches. The spanish lads were quicker, more lively, sharper, and nipped in each time to take it off his toes. Lampard's touch was attrocious - and this is supposedly one of the best 3 players in the world, from the other year??? missing one of the most basic requirements of a top top player.each second touch, or first, sure enough, the ball would bobble away from him and possession was lost. Have to disagree about crouch though - that ref gave him absolutely nothign all night, and after a while the spanish defenders realised they could lean in, fall over , feign injury and they'd get the free kick - i felt for crouch. »»Arsene Knows««
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08/02/2007 20:19:00

Cracking read. So we really are doomed then!
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08/02/2007 20:28:00

Arsenal aren't doomed. England are fü©ked though :) »»Arsene Knows««
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08/02/2007 20:52:00

I will tell you the first problem with England apart from the fact McClaren is a Joke, Sven was better in my opinion. Problem one Lampard in the team. I do not know what is the big deal about this player he just get in gerrard way and why their contiune to pick this player i do not know. I can name more than over 10 midfielders in the world who are better than Lampard. Give me time i will name 50 if you want. Lampard reck the balance of the team if Gerrard play in central midfield with a good defence midfielder and two pacing wingers on either side (lennon and dyer) then you would see the different in england. Second problem crouch playing from the start encouraging the team to hit long balls up to him as well as he does not have the ability to get behind the defence like owen, bent, defoe, johnson etc. Playing one of these forwards with rooney once again will make a difference to the pattern of play and you would see the best of rooney. Final point, the sooner McClaren get out of this job the better for england chances because i tell you this anybody who thinks israil will be a pushover are very sadly mistaken because i believe their will get at least a point from next month game. I think England should be appointing the best manager for the job not appointing a manager because their are english for me the player on the pitch are english are if england win anything it will be the name England that wins not any foreign manager country. England need a good foreign manager sooner rather than later.
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08/02/2007 21:55:00

Oh Canada! Hargreaves and Radzinsky making us Canucks proud. Useless thought of the day: It's funny how outside of hockey we can't put together a full team of talent in any sport, yet we somehow pull off MVP's in almost every team sport: Hargreaves, England player of the year (football) - Steve Nash, soon to be third League MVP (NBA), Justin Morneau, American League MVP (Baseball), etc. I'm not sure if the England National Team could even beat our new MLS franchise, Toronto FC! A pretty embarrassing WC performance, and it doesn't look like things are getting any brighter.
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08/02/2007 22:10:00

organisation is gift from the manager in charge to the players rather than something innate..without Graham Anfield '89 wouldn't have happened nor would copenhagen 94..I think with sufficient coaching the players can have such levels engrained within them
Anon 1
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08/02/2007 22:38:00

I’m not English (sorry I will be bit harsh in English football), but I don’t know what’s wrong with English media and the idea of “arsenal must have English players”. Real Madrid is one of the best clubs in the world. Do u know who are the last Spanish player they did produce? Raul in 1995 and the casillas the goal keeper in 2000!! The problem in England that football is inherited!! (Good to keep the kids support their teams) but the wrong mentality keeps moving to the new generation. This mentality is that only English knows football and all other nations watch for us to teach them how to kick the ball. The mentality which tells the players that when you over-played you have to go physical at the other team. in England, they don’t teach you that with tactics you can over play the other team. England needs to change a lot on their mentality and spreading some tactics in their game! I mean the booing of English fans toward C. Ronaldo tells u everything about the reality of English football at the moment. (yes, he does dive loads, and He was NOT the reason of Rooney sent off) I mean u need to encourage World class player to come to England rather than booing them.
Gooner SA
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09/02/2007 00:32:00

one more thing, the attendence at Brazil Vs Portugal higher than England Vs Spain !!
Gooner SA
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09/02/2007 00:35:00

It's sorta sad for me because as well as being an Arsenal fan, I am partially an England fan, too(I root for them more than I did for USA during the WC x_X). And as you have all blatantly put about their performances, I couldn't agree more. The sooner the higher ups realize that McClaren isn't up to the job, the better. I don't believe in terms of talent, England have any less than most countries, so it's really only a matter of bringing in someone who knows how to use each player to the fullest. I hope Foster will be starting for England more, despite the loss, I think he did well for his debut. And I know he was part of the U-21's, but I think Huddlestone deserves a chance with the senior squad. At least I can't see him doing any less than Carrick. And despite the talents Spain had on the bench, it was a shame Fabregas couldn't have come on sooner. The boos were uncalled for! >;3
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09/02/2007 01:09:00

40 years ago,it was more like 50 years ago when that great hungarian team gave england a real footballing lesson
fran merida
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09/02/2007 11:23:00


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