Jenny Leigh puts forth a theory on why England doesn’t produce enough talent...
They say its because of foreigners in the Premier League, they say its because there’s not enough state investment in sport, they say its because English kids have no desire, and they say it’s because English kids are lazy but none of those is the real reason why England don’t produce enough talent of enough quality to genuinely challenge for a World Cup.
Here, on the BBC’s website you can view a three-and-a-half minute video of managers and coaches and FA-affiliated people putting forth their views on why English players are not being developed to the required levels. You can also see Alan Shearer discussing the same thing here.
Firstly, it is not, in my humble opinion, as Sam Allardyce claims, the government’s fault for not spending enough money on sports. Ordinarily, I would be more than agreeable with the fact that everything’s the government’s fault but, hang on, over the last decade more money has been pumped into sports education and the Olympics than ever before.
On the topic of the Olympics still, I find it ridiculous for Harry Redknapp to say that English kids are not working hard enough and don’t have the same desire as previous generations when you look at the superb efforts and achievements of British young people this summer in other sports.
So what is it, then? It might be because English former players, coaches, journalists, pundits and commentators constantly berate English managers, footballers and youngsters about not being good enough.
It might be because English coaches are still very regressive in their tactics and philosophy of the game compared to Germany, Spain, Holland, France and Brazil and, as such, the best English players have tended to develop best under foreign managers like Jack Wilshere under Arsene Wenger, Steven Gerrard under Rafael Benitez, and Wayne Rooney under Sir Alex Ferguson who is Scottish and before you roll your eyes it was a Scotsman who in 1872 came up with the original ideas that lead to the conception of total football and, incidentally, he came up with the idea of the possession game as a way of beating the English.
Who are the best players in the world? Lionel Messi – look at how many exceptionally talented players the current Argentina squad possesses; they don’t give a toss that many of their best assets were not grown predominantly at home. Messi was a graduate of the La Masia academy in Barcelona and here’s where we can begin to see a pattern emerge.
Cristiano Ronaldo is Portuguese – in Portugal the best clubs, the likes of FC Porto, Sporting CP, Sporting Lisbon, and Benfica import some of the best South American talent to their youth academies where the likes of Colombian Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, and Jackson Martinez, and Brazilians Hulk and Bruno Alves have been trained into stars.
The Portuguese do not discuss with such flagrant ignorance the fact that too many foreign players are playing in the Primeira Liga, they embrace it and they, incidentally, tend to export their best Portuguese players abroad to Spain, Italy, Eastern Europe and England.
Wales produced Gareth Bale but he trained at Southampton and then Tottenham in England alongside the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luke Shaw.
The Saints have one of finest youth systems in the country – one that played a huge role in the development of the world’s most expensive player. The Welsh don’t have a problem sending their best players, like Aaron Ramsey, and Ryan Giggs previously, out to English clubs to develop.
Where do English players tend to learn to play football? That’s right, in England. Very few top English players ever leave England and those that do are usually at the peak of their careers when they do so.
Perhaps if English players were sent out to other countries to experience other football cultures, philosophies and ideas they might benefit from the opening of their eyes and minds.
That is, in my humble opinion, the real reason why England doesn’t produce enough talent because, predominantly, English players are grown in England where they are perpetually told they are the best players in the country until they reach the senior team when they are perpetually told they’re rubbish.