The Champions League is seen as the absolute pinnacle of club football. The best teams around Europe compete each season for the title and its damaging football in this country and the FA don't care, the clubs don't care and more importantly the fans don't care anymore. Oh they may make the right noises but deep down they only care about their clubs and then moan about the way the England team perform at major championships every two years.
I was brought up on skill full players as a kid. I loved watching them, in my humble opinion the Brazil team of 1982 was the best team never to win a World Cup, Zico and Falco were the names I used in the playground, before them Ardiles and Villia of Spurs as well as Hoddle. I coached boys teams many years ago when they all wanted to be Zola's and Bergkamps, or Beckhams and Giggs when they first started.
Where are these type of players now? Where are the next generation of English players coming from? I watched Jack Wilshere today and I could have cried for him. This is an exceptional talent who has to play with players he is far superior too knowing that he faces heartbreak at international level for at least the next ten years.
As a kid I remember my Dad saying it was a shame that Rush, Dalgleish, Giggs, Best, Hughes and Southall were wasted playing for their countries as most of them didn't have a hope in hell of winning a World Cup or European Championship. Do you know what I can see the same thing being said about Jack Wiltshire by other countries in the next few years.
Paul Scholes has just retired this week, the best passer of a ball we've had in years. Respected around the world by some of the greatest players who ever played the game and what did we do with him? Did we build a team around him? No we stuck him on the left wing and were surprised when he retired from International football. Will he be remembered for his passing and his skill? Not in this country he wont be, he will be remembered for not being able to tackle. Says it all really doesn't it.
The problem is the lack of talent being produced in this country, its easier to go and buy cheap imports than it is to take a chance on a young English player who may one day make the grade. There are those of you who will say that the cream will always rise to the top but you show me where that is happening in any of the teams that finished in the top 5 this year?.
The odd player makes it through but not in the quantity that they do in other countries, young players now have to leave their parent clubs and go on loan to clubs lower down the Premier League or the Championship to get a game. Yes they may be playing but where are they getting the European experience from? They aren't are they.
Ask any fan of the top four clubs who is there favourite player and I guarantee that they will say a forgein player. Arsene Wenger is often touted as bringing through young players, this he does do but are they English? No they aren't. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott (who he bought from Southampton by the way) are the exception here aren't they. After watching the England game today, the first time Ive watched England in a long time, it struck me how different and technically weak we are compared to Spain, Germany and Italy.
We cant pass the ball more than three times, take Rooney out of attack and who is there? No one. Spain have eight first teamers that come from the same club, Barcelona, do their players want to play in this country? No. How many German players that play for their country want to play in the Premier League? Hardly any. The same goes for Italy as well. Then we go further afield. How many Brazilians who play for Brazil do we have in the Premier League? Or Argentina's? Dutch? French? I could go on but I wont.
The reason for this is that we play a style of football that suits a certain player, a physical player, a strong player who will run all day and tackle hard but, and this is the really important bit, if you like to pass the ball about then please don't come here as we don't want you. I hear the Arsenal fans talk about Fabregas, yes he is a talented player but would he play regularly for Barcelona? No. Pique was let go by Manchester Utd because he wasn't suited to the Premier League but has now grown into one of the best centre half's in the world.
The problem is the Premier League generates money, more money than most of the owners in this country could spend or need, and what does the FA do about it? Nothing. The fans of these clubs will take success however it comes, if that means that there club is filled with players who's names they would struggle to spell let alone say then that is the price they are prepared to pay. The effect of this is that the England team is 20 years behind everyone else and will stay there until something is done about it.
You will buy into the fact that we should win every tournament that we enter, that we can compete with the likes of Brazil and Spain and then blame the manager when it all goes wrong or turn on the players. Yet the one thing you wont do is look at YOUR club and see the reason why we fail on a regular basis is because they don't harness and treasure the young gifted players that cant get a game in this country.
The game is run by managers who put physical stature above skill, who put technique below the fact a player can run for 90 minutes non stop. Who buy gifted cheap imports instead of developing the talent they have within their own grounds. So how do we change this? What needs to be done? Its not going to be easy and it will be painful but oh the rewards will be enormous, why may even get a team that could win the odd tournament one day.
Ill reveal my blue print of how I think the game needs to be changed in the next part of this blog in a few days time. Thank you for reading and please don't pass judgement until you have heard what I have to say. You never know you may even agree with me. Yes Ricky B that includes you as well.