Writer: Robin May
Date:Tuesday June 29 2010
With England's latest World Cup disaster still fresh, Vital Wednesday's Robin May has his say on why the Three Lions' failure reminds him of something a lot closer to come.
A grassroots problem - England are out, dignity stripped, performances lacking.
Over the next few days the waves of accusations and the usual finger pointing will begin and let`s not forget the pundits will have their own inspired tactical view of how they would do it and why but there was something far more serious I saw in this England team, something that cannot be fixed by simple substitutions or managerial changes.
Watching the England / Germany game this afternoon made me feel sick to the stomach and for good reason because, well they reminded me of Wednesday.
Cast your mind back to the season just gone (if you can bear it) and think back to the first Steel City derby.
Despite clawing two goals back Wednesday were abysmal and lacked a lot of invention and really just seemed to have no idea what they were doing for large parts of the game.
It sounds pessimistic but this was a real wake up call for me during the season and the first real alarm bell where I thought, well this might really be our last season in the championship for a while if we play like this, which is exactly my point.
If England continues to play in this way, whenever we come up against the more creative teams they will continue to dismantle us and make it look easy to push England aside.
Everyone will have an opinion on why this is but I believe it`s in the very way we play the English game and if we do not start changing the way we play the game from the ground up we could be disappointed on the big stage for many years to come.
To begin to explain what worried me lets think about the most basic elements of football, one we are most familiar with is the good old 4-4-2 formation. Now I don`t know about you but at school 4-4-2 was the norm and we wouldn`t think of playing anything other than that.
There was no invention or innovation in the style of football we played because week in week out in the top division 4-4-2 is what we got, nothing which I would even begin to compare with any of the continental styles of play.
If we take the Dutch for example they are raised in a completely different game with most teams preferring to use the 4-3-3 formation.
Going back to England one of the main points of frustration I found was the lack of movement and spark of creative genius.
Lots of England fans were baying for Capello`s blood after the Algeria game because he did not use Joe Cole who does give that bit of extra spark at times.
Going back to my point about the Dutch the 4-3-3 formation does not lend its self to a rigid style of play because there is more space in the mid field and more options for attack up front.
There for it is usually not as static and thus raises young players in a game environment where creativity and creative flair can be utilized in a more effective manner, which in my opinion does change the style of play the Dutch players use making them very different to their English counterparts, hence the large amounts of money the premier league pays for the likes of Van Persie and Robben.
Before anyone puts their hand up and points out that Holland has never won a world cup with their 4-3-3, wouldn`t it be good to just try it?
Think of the 'Lampard Gerrard` dilemma that gets brought up far too often, if Gerrard were made to play on the left he would have so much more room to cut inside and would even be encouraged to do so which would result in Gerrard actually being able to be part of a functioning mid field or attack without compromising his position and the team structure.
So why if this is the case do we persist with old tactics for the modern game and I am not just saying we should simply change to 4-3-3 and it will solve everything but I think we should be more adventurous especially with our developing players to inspire their creativity and mold our game accordingly suited to their strengths rather than thinking how can we fit this player best into our current plan.
This way of using talent in an inspired way to make out own brand of football away from the established 4-4-2 could make something even the likes of Spain and Brazil would envy because let`s face it, we do have the talent.
I don`t believe it`s as black and white as just teaching a different style of play and I would be naive to suggest that it`s the answer to our problems but let`s think about our mentality as a nation.
Even with our economic blight we are still one of the influential and powerful nations of the world. We generally do not settle of a 'that`ll do` mentality, we want to win. This is why I think we are very quick to put all our hopes too quickly into something that may be a long way of maturity.
Think back to Euro 2008, we didn`t turn up in that tournament - Literally. So why should a team that two years ago failed to qualify for a major international tournament now be expected to topple the best the world has to offer?
Let`s look at this a different way. France / Italy 2006 in the world cup final, two years later in the Euros both teams were lackluster and dropped out with little more than a whimper, yet people were surprised to see them perform so badly in this world cup.
Just by believing that you are a big nation in terms of football does not make you immune to defeat. Unfortunately most Wednesday fans will know this all too well as we all believe and hope we will regain our place in the premier league where we belong and this goes for England too.
Over the years too much pressure on England has often built up our hopes so high only to have them taken away from us.
This seems to happen every world cup where the nation`s anger is then directed at specific players as if they were the ones that robbed us of the world cup.
The truth is we are not the best at football and the way we play along with the expectation on our shoulders; we set ourselves up for failure. This happens all too often at club level, I`m thinking of Newcastle in particular where especially in their last season in the Premiership they went through managers as if they were on a turnstile.
We can`t keep up this perception that just because our players play in the premiership that they will be good enough to walk home with the world cup, we need to start being more realistic so if anything we do not destroy the progress that has been built at the end of each major tournament.
I do believe the English football system being taught to out hopefuls has to change but I think with a lot of patience and just the right amount of support, England could go a long way.
Date:Tuesday June 29 2010
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