Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Let's all copy Italy! No, France!! No, Spain!!!

author: Martin Samuel
source: The Daily Mail

date: 10 June 2009

So what happened to France? What happened to the plan to reshape English football along the lines of the French model; to create our own Centre Technique National Fernand Sastre, otherwise known as the Clairefontaine academy?

At the weekend, Sir Trevor Brooking, the director of technical development at the FA, said the game in England had to be more like that in Spain. Brooking spoke glowingly of recent trips there, during which FA officials witnessed the devotion to coaching and technique. He admired the way a small physique is no barrier to success.

And no doubt all of this is true and worthy. But was it only eight years ago when everything we did was going to be based on developments in France that had produced a generation of World Cup-winning stars? Before that, English football was going to be more Italian, with pasta diets and conditioning work. That was after we had to go Dutch, teaching six-year-olds the Johan Cruyff turn before they knew how to trap a ball and coaching them to play in every position until their little heads were spinning.

There are splinter groups, such as the Brazilian Soccer Schools run by Simon Clifford, which advocate Futebol de Salao, and no doubt if Japan won the next World Cup, every promising 14-year-old would be placed on a diet of raw fish and manga comics for inspiration. But, for now, Spain are the best, so we must copy all they do.

Not so long ago, it was impossible to get a club to look at a 12-year-old who was less than 6ft 2in. Now, scouts will be trawling the parks each Sunday on the hunt for highly skilled midgets. Anyone would think we are just a ridiculous country without any original thoughts or ideas and that we merely look at whichever team is winning and think ‘Right, let’s do that’, as if it will compensate for our inadequacies.

Brooking’s focus has been largely on five-to-11-year-old children. In June 2007, he was the public face of an initiative that introduced 66 specialist skills coaches across 12 regions to work with that vital age group. Why such a random number? An FA source explained that 66 is a special figure to English football.

The key to elite development in any sport is to focus on the very best; those with exceptional talent. Instead, English youth coaching is wasted by being spread thinly, rather than honing in on the handful of boys in each year who really benefit from top-quality instruction.

Brooking recalls the worrying gap when Spain’s Under 19 team beat England 3-0 in February, playing in a way that mirrored the senior team’s dismantling of Fabio Capello’s side in Seville the following night. ‘The whole coaching structure has to change,’ said Brooking. ‘It can’t be linked to the old style, the dad who coaches the team and wants to win at the expense of development. That can destroy the whole ethos of passing the ball from the back.’

Something is wrong, because England’s teenage footballers do not experience the success that should flow from being part of the most powerful league in the world, with the funding and opportunity that brings. Could this be because English football confuses education with imitation? We have grafted a system of management from Italy on to our senior team, so we believe Spanish values and culture are as easily absorbed at youth level.

Every successful coach is, to some extent, a magpie (Jose Mourinho’s ideas stem mainly from working with a Dutch management school at Barcelona), but to just pick up and drop thought processes according to whatever nation has the best footballers at the time is ludicrous.

If the French academy was worth copying following their World Cup win in 1998 it remains a good idea now, even if their current crop of footballers are not on a par with Spain. Just because Barcelona’s Cantera school did not produce a European Championship-winning midfield until 2008 does not mean it was previously irrelevant.

Brooking now talks of Spain’s diminutive midfield as if one country has shown the way. But many in England have argued against this growing obsession with the
gargantuan for a number of years, counselling that talent is being disregarded in favour of athletes of limited ability. Players such as Claude Makelele and Javier Mascherano show that even the toughest tackling midfielders do not have to be hewn from a cliff face.

The secret of success for English football will never be found on some fact-finding mission to mainland Europe. At home is where the answer lies, but first we must dispense with the gimmicks and quick fixes. Brooking’s homage to Catalonia, like those 66 skills coaches for schoolchildren, are all sound and no bite.

read the full and original article here

Read more:
Guardiola has restored the philosophy of Cruijff
Are defensive forwards the future?
Let's have a fair fight rather than cynism


SJP said...

stop stealing our players then!

bees said...

this should end the EPL vs liga debate.. :p

Carrer de Corsega said...

This has nothing to do with La Liga vs. EPL.

This is about domestic player development and not league quality. Because EPL has been so good with the flood of foreigners that their national team failed to qualify for Euro '08. That's the problem. He could still make an argument for EPL being a better league than La Liga without contradicting this article's thesis.

Areign said...

so sad netherlands havent won anything yet. it seems besides south america and then spain france and italy they sit next to them with the greatest football identity. that is why england wont win anything for a while. they want to win, not play soccer.

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