WHY ENGLAND ‘FAILED’ IN THIS WORLD CUP by Nicholas Oyoo
Before you start roasting me, I’m not English and I’m providing a very non-expert simplistic view from across the globe. It will be brief, brutal and precise. Whomever can pick a good thing to use out of it, please do so. It may be also incoherent – so those who want to critique me of that, look for something more productive from this article to talk about.
England did not deserve going past the second round of the World Cup and only the ingenuity and inspirational appeal of their manager got them there. Why do I say so? England had a relatively workable group with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. They played with their inspired minds and the result was that set pieces were their saving grace, and of course penalties. They also managed to avoid the route which was potentially more fearful by losing to Belgium in their last group match. This must have been Southgate calculating and asking the boys over the last one year to reach above their capabilities and pull something out of the hat.
Again, England have broken lots of records to be where they are right now. They last played in the World Cup Semi-Finals in 1990. But one thing I will clearly state – I cannot compare the class of 1990 and the class of 2018. Class of 1990 was way superior, talented and capable. Class of 2018 was… very inadequate and somewhat lucky – and this is why.
1) Physicality – The English Premier League is one of those leagues every player in the planet wants to be given a chance to shine in. But many seriously talented players avoid it and those who come to it come to it because of the riches it offers relatively to other leagues. The English prefer a brutal ‘force the game’ mentality. Often this is associated with lots of set-pieces and challenges. For a player to make it big in EPL one must have a quality called physicality. What this has done to the English squad is quickly removed from the top leagues technically sound players who have the super football brains and brought up players who have more muscles. Players like Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain who were built up as technically predisposed were not fully delivering in the league and therefore ended up being overlooked. But what this created was also that the English can defend tough and brutally. But they can rarely get those brilliant worked out open play football goals associated with talent based players.
2) Home based – English players of nowadays will never make it in foreign leagues. This is because those with talent are never given a chance to shine in a league so full of push and brutality, where they will be pushed off the ball and coaches and managers feel that they do not deliver. The ones that are the heroes of the leagues will be assessed by potentially foreign bosses and be seen to be wanting and therefore go elsewhere to recruit.
3) Foreign Home Teams – The top clubs in EPL are full of foreign players with very few locals making the cut. This is because when the managers (mostly foreign) look at the footballers they need in their squad, there are not many English players who can make the cut. As a result, those that will make the English squad will have to be few and far between who have questionable technical abilities.
4) What are the Solutions? – Perhaps I’m not the one to help with this but the refereeing crack downs are important. In a team like Arsenal for instance, we had two horrific broken legs with Ramsey and Eduardo to prove the league is very brutal. Arsenal which had a technical foundation as its play philosophy often ended up at the top of the injury tables.
Secondly, maybe requirements such as at least two English players in every starting XI, though controversial, might help.
Thirdly, English clubs to have more players in the youth system sent abroad on loans could also help. Not sure how the FA can implement such requirements but if young players develop their technical abilities better rather than brutalize their way through the league, they would be better placed to help the English squad.
5) HOPE – This is always there. With the top teams in the EPL predominantly foreign, there are younger English players who are developing their technical abilities to fit in these teams and soon that will show.
What do you think, gunners?