It’s no secret that English football is trapped in a vicious cycle that isn’t doing the country any good right now. They dominate qualification to major tournaments, get over-hyped by the media, then crash out of the tournament in embarrassing fashion and leave the manager with all the blame. This cycle isn’t helping everyone, especially since the problems are usually not the managers fault, but rather from a long list of issues that stem from one simple thought process that’s shared by the entire country.
England think that England are at the center of the football universe.
At one point that thought was true, but that was back when England actually invented the game. These days it’s almost as laughable as saying Rutgers are among the top NCAA football schools because they won the first ever American football game.
The attitude that England are at the center of the universe is preventing the country from actually developing a football team that can compete at the World Cup and European Championships in several different ways.
Right now, as England usually have to do after tournaments, the FA is looking for a new manager. As the FA always do in this situation, they begin looking for that new manager internally. And while this time around they’ve said that they’d gasp consider hiring a foreign manager. It was a sentiment that wasn’t exactly met positively by everyone including skipper Wayne Rooney who said at a press conference that “of course it would be better if the manager was English.”
Rooney’s view is shared by many people in English and it’s time to ask why. Why does the manager need to be English? What is wrong with hiring a foreign manager?
It’s not like English managers have been substantially more successful than England’s foreign managers recently, so shouldn’t the priority be to find someone with a good football mind that can build a successful team rather than whether the man was born in England or not?
Nevertheless whoever becomes the next England manager will still have to deal with the same big problem that all the previous managers have had to deal with. The players that he has to choose from are all… well, English. Very English.
Now before you start laughing about what I just said making no sense think about the other big teams and where their players come from. Germany has players from Poland, Ghana, and Turkey. Their players play in Germany, Spain, and England. France has players that come from all over the place, and hardly any of them actually play in France. Spain’s players come from different regions of the country and play for clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy, and England.
Meanwhile England players all come from England and play in England. That’s a problem.
One of the biggest problems plaguing England right now is all of their players have been playing the same way all their lives. They grow up playing English football, they go to English academies, they get loaned out to English clubs, and if they don’t make it at their parent club they simply move to a smaller English club. No one leaves England.
While the Premier League is trying to create more and more rules to ensure that clubs are still have English players in their squad, that’s not what England need right now. If the players aren’t going to go abroad, England need the clubs to do that for them.
Instead of sending a young player on loan to a team at the bottom of the Premier League, why not send them to a team at the bottom of La Liga or the Bundesliga? Even if there’s a drop in quality of most of the opponents, the player will be exposed to a new culture and a completely different style of play. Those are things he can use to work into his own game, making him a more complete player.
That’s what England need more of. Players that play more than just the English style.
At Euro 2016, England had one player in their team that grew up outside of England, Eric Dier. Dier spent most of his development years in Portugal, coming up through Portuguese systems. His game has a combination of English and Portuguese elements to it. It’s not a coincidence that Dier drew some of the most praise of all the English players at the tournament and is already being called a future captain.
England’s biggest problem right now is that they think the best football minds are in England, and that all their players should be playing in England. In today’s day and age, you want to have a mix of styles in your team. Until England accept that and drop their English-centric attitude, that won’t be a major player on the international stage.