Why England aren’t as bad as the media are keen to make out

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It is a simple case of revolution. Every two years, we experience it with the same anxious, extravagantly excessive media build up and the seemingly inevitable crushing sensation of defeat. Oh what a departure it is to be host of the most exciting league in the world yet fall short massively as a national team. It has been examined and explored in every way possible and still where there should be answers are instead lukewarm blanks and more questions. The lack of success of the English national team is a football conundrum that backdates to 1966.

Naturally, the media play a dramatic part in this. Every fantastic performance by a young, upcoming English talent is lauded beyond belief and every mistake is shot down and trampled on without remorse. With the press that we have in England, it’s hard not to understand why the job of the English national coach is regarded as being the hardest in football. The comparisons with Barcelona are, even with all factors considered, excessive and the reason is not that our players aren’t gifted, but the fact that the Catalan club is far superior, both technically and tactically. Then the transition from club to national team is seamless since the Spanish 1st XI are in majority Barcelona players with the rest of the team filled with, rather usefully, Real Madrid talent.

The two national teams to reach the final of the European Championships 2008 were Spain and Germany, of whom both only had one player out of the starting XI who didn’t play club football domestically: Fernando Torres of Liverpool and Michael Ballack of Chelsea. The fact that they both played for top English clubs epitomizes the ongoing reliance on record breaking transfer fees and the scouting of foreign players rather than our own.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup opened the eyes of the FA and swiftly pointed them in the direction of our youth system. The team’s performance appeared to not be the driving factor, instead it appeared to be the fact that we were emphatically beaten by the Germans in a game where goal line technology would have been handy, but would not have changed the end result massively, and Germany then making it to the semi-finals only to be beaten by Spain, all with a squad carrying an average age of 25.

What appears more shocking is the rift that is now present between English team selection and that of competing nations. The trust that is placed on young players seems to be counter balanced by the pressures of national expectations. This point is further reinforced by the fact that errors often manifest themselves in older, more experienced players as well. Robert Green’s fumbling of Clint Dempsey’s long range drive in England’s opening game in South Africa tells the tale. Many arguments proceeded, mostly berating Green for not being good enough in general, but the same fingers can be pointed at veterans of the game.

Taking a recent game into account, the two goals conceded against the Swiss, Ferdinand missing a dubious header and James Milner abandoning a two man wall. Adding insult to injury, both were the result of free kicks, which just goes to show that even a centre half who helped his team to the final of the Champion’s League and the most capped English player at U21 level can still be prone to mistakes.

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