I swear we’ve been here before? England eliminated at the first knock out stage of a major Championship and via penalties? If we are to change this from becoming (I appreciate it already is) a regular occurrence then we need to change the way we run our game, starting from the very bottom.
Germany changed their mentality following their Euro 2000 nightmare, and invested heavily in producing a high quality batch of technically good young players, fit to not just challenge at one major tournament, but every! It’s been 12 years since then, and their current squad has just two, yes two, players whom are 30 or older (Miroslav Klose and Tim Wiese, both of whom aren’t regulars.) They have such strength in depth the likes of Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos simply haven’t had a look in at the tournament so far. Of the German Under 21 side that thrashed England 4-0 in the European Championship final, six of them are in the current German squad, in comparison to England, whom have taken just two from that squad (James Milner and Theo Walcott)
The current German coach is Joachim Low, and I’ll lump a lot of money that no ‘one will know who he managed before the German national side, or even how well done. I didn’t, I had to look it up. And as it happens he never did exceptional anywhere he did, with clubs ranging from Adanaspor to Karlsruher. He joined the German national side as part of the coaching set up in 2004 and since then has had incredible success with his country. Don’t get me wrong Low has proven to be tactically good; however does his CV compare to the likes of Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello? It doesn’t come close. But for some obscure reason, the English FA would rather throw £6million a year at a foreign manager, than put it into grass roots football. Eriksson and Capello are very good managers and both have moderate levels of success with England; however they were always going to be a short-term fix. The English FA needs to understand that having a great manager isn't the biggest piece of the puzzle.
The FA has changed something for the better over the recent months, as from next season, such young footballers won’t have to make the quick jump to 11 a side football, which has so often been criticised. Jose Mourinho recently commented that England will never win anything whilst boys play 11-a-side, going on to say “In England you are trained to win, in Spain you are coached to play”. He has a point, for every English Scott Parker there is a Spanish Andres Iniesta.
Maybe I’m being harsh on Parker, he’s a solid defensive midfielder; however there was numerous occasions against Italy were his passing ability and poor technique was on show. Many will say Parker’s game isn’t about passing, but when you play as one of two centre midfielders, you’ve got to a better passer of the ball then he is. All four of the Italian centre midfielders would have got in alongside Steven Gerrard. It’s not just Parker though, our England squad only has a maximum of four world class players (Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart and Gerrard), which when you consider the likes of Fernando Torres, Rafael Van Der Vaart and Kroos all struggled to get into their retrospective sides at the tournament, our lack of brilliant players hindered us.
I’m going to leave the article on a good note however; our Under 21 side of 2009 did make the Under21 finals and we do have numerous young players coming through and in the likes of Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverely and Martin Kelly there is undoubted potential. Will we get anywhere at the 2014 World Cup, no! So why not use that as a platform for Euro 2016, lets field a young side to gain experience at a major tournament and really have a go at a tournament we’ve a, all be it minor, chance in.