Modern football is evolving more than ever. Where does this leaves present England national team and the expectation of proud nation? This is t trillion dollar question for all those who want more than ever for their country to succeed.
The demand for success on the biggest stage of world football in England is an obsession, which in return has made all of us blind towards more practical facts which need to be realised and worked upon.
There are three key points which require much more attention than other things.
A. Stop comparing to other systems.
B. Sort out the strength and weakness of England's system.
C. Implement what they have and then connect it to next version of ideas and philosophy.
Everybody wants to try and emulate the best. But what route do you take in order to surpass them? This is the issue that we have to understand thoroughly.
Since 2008, everybody has tried to amirror the way Barcelona play and execute; under Guardiola they won 14 trophies in a four year period. Not only that Spain also won three major tournaments with a golden core of Barcelona players.
All people would like their teams to play the way they do. But you have to realise that their way of playing has been there since Johan Cruyff joined them. That is a lot of years under the belt of Total Football idea.
Now the real question is "Is this (Barcelona) system the ultimate way of playing football?" The answer might be: no.
The main reason would be looking back to 2010 when Inter Milan (counter attacked) contained Barcelona. Philosophy is everything but in football, tactics can be changed in order to achieve results.
Remember how Chelsea became European champions last year with the same formula against Barcelona and Bayern Munich. So the Barcelona formula is not perfect but it is the best thing at the moment.
The Germans and the Dutch are the next best but if you realise the way Germans play their football, they function similarly to their top domestic teams such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
The majority of their spine comes from these two teams. Whereas with the Dutch, their players play in different nations and leagues so they have to play according to their strengths - that means playing according to what players they have and in which positions they have.
This resulted anger toward former Oranje coach Bert van Marwijk, who played according to player needs and not playing their traditional way.
South American teams such as Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay play to their strengths, which is attack, but they also have adapted to Europe. Historically, South Americans never had organisation in their philosophy.
Fore organisation I mea defending, their focus was always flamboyant attacking play.
Now they play with four upfront and six behind the half line, that’s why South American national sides have good attacking quality players such as Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Leandro Damiao and Oscar who can hold the ball and take on as many players as they can.
This brings us to England. How have their team, or how have their past teams been playing/played?
England have traitionally always played with two key points; strength and pace, and what have they achieved so far? one World Cup on home soil.
So this makes us question their football ideas. Is this a wrong way of thinking or right? Let’s go more deeply into this.
England’s famous formation 4-4-2 shows that they play basic football, neither flamboyant nor contained (counter attack).
They go blasting through the first 60 minutes attacking and next 30 minutes defending due to their energy levels.
The other team who are much better technically and have maintained their energy levels barrel down the English half, hence resulting in English despair. For example England vs. Brazil 2002, England vs. France 2004, England vs. Portugal 2006, England vs. Germany 2010 and England vs. Italy 2012.
Playing at high tempo for 70-80 minutes, your stamina level naturally comes down. Even with three substitutes you still can’t match high quality technical play from the opposition.
This whole scenario has resulted in most people believing that England need to change and get better, which is true but it will take 15 years to produce a batch of players who will function better technically and systematically.
So that means you have about eight tournaments (2028) until you get your promised team. So what do you do until then? Do you just make up your mind that they have to go through so many tournaments without achieving?
What the FA should do is come up with a plan, one that is not hard but achievable. They need to approach the top seven clubs (Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton) and propose two basic things.
1. Promote the idea of playing two to three home grown players together in one area.
Let’s look at the German team. They have eight players from Bayern Munich (Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Badstuber, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos, Gomez) and eight from Borussia Dortmund (Kehl, Bender, Leitner, Gundogan, Gotze, Reus, Hummels, Schmelzer). With the likes of Ozil, Podolski, Mertesacker, Khedira and Schurrle, this team might need two more goalkeepers and the squad is complete.
Look at the familiarity. Step in the shoes of Roy Hodgson, who must envy German coach Joachim Low.
So they should get three home players playing together in same area because it brings familiarity in each other’s play. If someone gets injured you have another player from your club team and you still know each other's game.
Sir Bobby Charlton was asked about his preferences as a international or domestic player. His answer was, with a national side every top player from all over the country comes and plays together occasionally, whereas in your domestic team you train and play with your team mates daily, so it’s like second nature.
The wise know what system works perfect. This idea currently fits well in both Spanish and German teams.
2. Ask coaching staff from these top seven English clubs who have been with them all these years to join the England coaching staff and prepare them for friendlies, qualifiers and tournaments.
Have you ever seen Manchester United in last 15 to 10 minutes when they are down or drawing? They need to install that in to the DNA of the English national team.
They need to put that penetration in to their game. They don’t have to change that much or wait for 15 years to get mighty technical players and compete with other top teams.
They just have to do simple steps. But for all this it requires cooperation between the FA and England’s top clubs. The reason you want to have club coaches also helping you is because they bring that competitive factor from the domestic game into the international set-up.
This can be possible, most of clubs and national association these days have programmes where their coaches are given placements to work and learn from each other clubs and associations. So a domestic club helping out their national association shouldn’t be an issue.
Clubs are the foundation of English football and they should lead the nation with the solution to this national dilemma.
With St. George’s Park open, the vision of a new generation with technical abilities looks to be in place. Hopefully that bridge between past failures and the future will be connected if England and English clubs do more than they have done already.
Let’s hope that FA get assisted by the big clubs in this quest for glory.
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