The last decade in my opinion has highlighted the reasons as to why the nation is falling behind others in the footballing pyramid. With the constant dominance of Spain and in particular Barcelona clubs from England have been outplayed at a level many weren’t expecting. Over the last few weeks I have been attempting to discover the difference between England and Spain.
In just 4 years (2008 -2012)at Barcelona Pep Guardiola won an astonishing 14 trophies but it is the way in which they were won which was more incredible. Guardiola inherited a squad which included foreign stars such as Deco and Ronaldinho however these were the type of players which were quickly shown the door at the Nou Camp!
Instead Guardiola relied on home-grown talent with many including messi, xavi and iniesta from the clubs own academy system and this is the main factor in Barcelona’s world dominance.
The Barcelona academy named La Masia is a slick outfit allowing young players to develop physically (e.g working on passing and work with the ball) but more importantly developing young mature footballers who have the right attitude and are easy to teach. The players are transferred from their housing at the training camp, to the best schools in the capital and later back to the complex where they train from 5 until 6:30. The short extent of training shocks many people and in my experience with coaches from Spain, Germany and the Netherlands training is much more relaxed with an attitude to high quality as opposed to British quick paced sessions.
This year has seen the retirement of many of the so called golden generation which includes the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes. These are players who all have the same quality as the players at Barcelona but what they lacked in their careers was a coach or setup which focused on tactics and a personal take on coaching from a young age, not just when they were eventually signed on professional contracts. David Beckham is a prime example of this, a player who spent every moment of his childhood practicing free-kicks and passing however in big games such as the World Cup he produced moments such as his well known sending off that could have possibly been eliminated if he was coached.
When I think about England’s continued failure since 1966 I can not help but look at local leagues for some kind of an answer! Youth leagues and senior non-league divisions offer the perfect example of un-nurtured players as the majority of clubs are very direct in their playing style, often playing long balls into strikers and centre forwards. This is a problem which is not as common in other European countries such as Spain as mentalities and mind sets among children and young adults are more focused towards player development and more so having fun.
I feel the redeveloping of British football needs to be spearheaded by football league clubs with changes made to the approach to training, the current running of leagues and most importantly the focus financially on young English talent as opposed to splashing millions of pounds on foreign players.
Furthermore scouts from football league clubs must in my opinion not just look for a good player who maybe has rapid pace or is very strong in the tackle but a player who reads and understands the game in terms of tactics and mentality.
The situation is not an impossible one to fix if we look at the turn around of German football. Back on the 1st of September 2001 England travelled to the Olympic Stadium in Munich and stunned Germany fans eventually cruising to a well documented 5-1 win. The win caused outrage amongst Germany at losing so heavily to their closest rivals. Bundesliga clubs including 2013 champions league finalists Bourissia Dortmund and Bayern Munich spent vast amount of money on the clubs academies and the future national stars. These future stars from over 12 years are now some of the most sought after players in world football including the likes of Mario Gotze and Philipp Lahm.
Overall the English football leagues are all still great spectacles but only time will tell if England will return to the height of 1966.