England’s youth hold the key to success

by Charlie Coffey

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

England has young stars need guiding light to break the darkness

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. With England’s desperate World Cup campaign, the worst since time began and a plague of locusts on the FA and every coach not producing a team of eleven Xavis etc., we can’t get any darker.

I agree as much as anyone that the way football is coached in England needs to change from physical to technical as soon as a young whippersnapper in short trousers dives headfirst into one of those balls of dust and limbs that an Englishman, at that age at least (although apparently it doesn’t get much more sophisticated as we grow older) calls football.

We have to turn this situation around a la Germany in the medium term, with their fresh crop of sprites, hand-plucked from a wealth a glistening new youth academies. Germany have apparently been working on their academy system since 2002, and so as the years pass each new crop will bear juicier fruit.

In the long term the approach of Spain is the ideal, with their six UEFA A coaches per square metre. We have heard since their World Cup victory how they preach only the purest eulogies of the beautiful game to their little scamps from birth, nurturing them from womb to World Cup, locked safely in their Mesias away from the evil ‘kick and rush’ football taught overseas.

If we are to adopt such an approach in England, with the vast debts that most of our clubs operate under, we will need divine intervention. But like Germany eight years ago, we have the seeds of talent amongst our midst to nurture into genuine contenders for the World Cup, looking for a guiding light to show the way to patient, possession football and tactical awareness. We have players who, if given eight years to develop themselves, can be at least as good as Germany’s band of brothers. Hark:

Joe Hart
Gavin Hoyte
Chris Smalling
James Tomkins
Kieron Gibbs
Jack Rodwell
Fabian Delph
Jack Wilshire
Danny Rose
Victor Moses
Daniel Sturridge

The problem for our youngsters is that they play in a premier league in which there are 10 Netherlands to one Spain. Unless superb technique is already possessed they will be kicked and rushed off the park. This is no way to promote the short-passing possession game that international football requires, but managers of Stoke, Bolton and other such sides are playing for Premier League survival.

Unfortunately the answer is unless we can somehow ‘do a Germany’, which seems unlikely for the foreseeable future, some of our young players must move abroad to develop the technical side of their game.  The laws that Germany passed to forcibly stimulate the growth of academies came before the recession. Top British talent is overpriced and unavailable to the sort of foreign sides that can give them first-team experience, and so foreign clubs only ever pay top whack for the finished article.

Stuck in a league full of players from all over the globe playing physical football, the light from our young stars may have burnt out before it reaches a World Cup, however bright it may seem now. Dark days indeed.

So how can we give players like those mentioned above the exposure to continental football and game time that their talent deserve? Exchange schemes with foreign sides might work for us but would a top continental team want to send their youngsters to learn the English way? Would a Spanish-style B team help? Or are we looking into the Spanish system too much on the back of their victory with what happens to just be an extremely good ‘golden generation’?

Read Charlie Coffey’s World Cup every weekday at my11.com.

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  • mickeymarbles

    What upsets me is looking at that list, how many of them will get a full regular season of Prem football with their own club? It might be wise to ship them out them out for a couple of years with players of similar ability to the Bundesliga and Spain. Learning in a culture away from the bright lights and excess of the Premiership. We seem to be the only half decent country that has all its young players playing in England and mostly playing in the championship on loan or warming the bench for big money foreign imports.

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