By TomTom – Your SatNav around Football
“You’ll never win anything with kids”. Hapless Hansen was wrong. Fergie’s babes combined to bake a large humble pie for Hansen to digest by winning the title that very same year.
However, Hansen’s comment leads into a much wider point. In the wake of England’s unseemly exit from Euro 2012 there is very little to discuss that is either particularly interesting or thought provoking. Yet the one thing clear is that we have never been further away from winning a major international tournament as we are at this moment. We are at least a generation away from bridging the gap between our current set of ‘bulldogs’ and the elegant demi-Gods of the continent. The truth is that if England are going to end 46 years of hurt, it has to be down to the kids.
Let’s face facts – Sunday evening made for excruciating viewing. A depressing statistic is that the most common sequence in England’s play across the 120 minutes was Joe Hart to Andy Carroll, a combination which occurred 15 times. Bearing in mind Carroll only played half of those 120 minutes, that is primitive stuff. We are the Stoke of international football. Our aim is survival not style, resistance not renaissance. This cannot be the case. No longer can the adjective ‘gritty’ be used in a positive sense to describe our national football team. The term workmanlike needs to be thrown out as well. Investing in a new national centre of excellence in the mould of Barcelona, France and Germany is one thing, changing the culture and mindset of English football is another step altogether.
The happy aside of creating a training camp such as Barcelona’s La Masia is that players are removed from the microscope of their parent’s eyes. The only football related experience more disturbing that watching England senior team play is venturing out to a local park on a Sunday morning to watch a youth match. Players as young as Under 8’s are subjected to the verbal diarrhoea of their vicarious fathers shamelessly transferring their own stunted ambitions on to their sons. Bulldog fathers, creating bulldog sons. I’m sorry, but we don’t care who wins the Under 8 Sunday league. The bigger picture needs to be considered. Ten completed passes in a row should constitute a goal. An irate Dad screaming ‘get it out’ any time the ball crosses the half way line should face a touchline ban. These are the people that need to be converted.
The question is, do we as a footballing nation have the maturity and patience to allow this necessary process of rebuilding to take place? In the same way that parents on the side of park pitches have to alter their psyche, the media have to allow the senior team room to manoeuvre. Could we face the idea of potentially sacrificing a major tournament for the greater good? It is true, this year was not the time for that. Fans needed to be won round and players re-energised by the idea of representing their country. That first step has now been completed and with the benefit of slightly more margin for error, Hodgson needs to be the catalyst for further change. The F.A’s selection of Hodgson over Redknapp was largely due to his superior tactical brain and commitment to the science of football. It is now time for Hodgson to repay that faith.
The man who has been portrayed as the father figure throughout this tournament now needs to bring up the kids.« Football’s greatest grudge takes fresh twist Wayne Rooney: a Scrub-Jay defence »
“Having studied English at university and always been a keen footballer and fan, combining the two has always appealed to me.” - Tom Lytton-Dickie. -"I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket." Tom Allnutt
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