In the long run Liverpool and Manchester United’s rivalry makes no difference:

Image for In the long run Liverpool and Manchester United’s rivalry makes no difference:

The failure of England’s so called ‘golden generation’ has been put down to several things in the past – inflated ego’s, uninspired coaching and a lacklustre attempt to keep the ball in games of consequence. However, courtesy of Man Utd legend and former England midfielder Paul Scholes, a new theory for our country’s horrendous underachievement has emerged – the bitter rivalries at club level make it difficult to create a team spirit at international level.

Here is verbatim what Scholes said on the matter:“There is a big rivalry between clubs in this country and it isn’t healthy when you go away on international duty. When I was with England, there was always a lot of United players and Liverpool players in the squad and it was plainly obvious that some of our lads didn’t like some of their boys and some of their lads didn’t like some of us.”

We weren’t just footballers, we actually loved the clubs we played for and the rivalry was always there. As Mancs and Scousers we were always a bit suspicious of each other and you can’t have that kind of thing if you want to be successful at international level. You can’t build a team or a spirit when that rivalry is always close to the surface. It was always too big to get over.” Daily Telegraph

While it would be hard to deny that there is certainly an intenses rivalry between players of Liverpool and Man Utd, would it really have an impact on results on the pitch for the national side as Scholes alludes to?

Well, the huge white elephant in the room is most definitely the recent success of the Spanish national side, a team which is neatly divided between Real Madrid and Barcelona camps of players – two sets of players which hardly have the most harmonious of relationships recently.

Spain won the World Cup final in 2010 with 10 players from both Real Madrid and Barcelona in their starting line-up, with only Villarreal’s Joan Capdevilla from elsewhere.

The Spanish national side, prior to the all-conquering force of a side that they have become, has always been a collection of immensely talented players hampered by irreparable divisions within the squad.

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The myriad of social, political and geographical factors within the country has meant that historically, it has proved almost impossible at times to unite everyone under one banner; something, which to their credit, firstly Luis Aragones and then his successor Vicente Del Bosque have somehow managed to achieve.

Current Spain manager Del Bosque even went as far as voicing concern last season about the bad-tempered nature of the Classico clashes, with a real worry developing in the back of many people’s minds that the matches were treading a very fine line between competitiveness and contempt.

Del Bosque stated: “I am worried about the quarrels between my players during these Classico’s, which I hope don’t find my way into the dressing room. Good relations inside the dressing room are the basis of our future success.”

Of course, nothing breeds good relations inside the dressing room like success out on the pitch and over the years it‘s fair to say that this is one thing that has eluded the English national side.

Were the sides that Scholes played in for the national side so beset with petty squabbles over club rivalries that they failed to put them aside for the greater good?

It seems a simplistic way of explaining away years of underachievement. The reasoning behind England’s failures have been well documented. Predominantly it all comes down to a matter of technique, or rather lack thereof.

You can have as much passion and bluster as you like, but if you’re unable to be disciplined, keep the ball and take your opportunities when they present themselves, then it doesn’t really matter whether you’re playing alongside friend or foe, you’ll get found out eventually.

Paul Scholes made his England debut in 1997 against South Africa and retired from international duty after Euro 2004. Let’s take a look at the squads that Scholes was involed in at international tournaments. Were there that many Manc’s and Scouser’s in the squad that divisions in the camp were inevitable? Or is it just another feeble excuse? Let’s take a look.

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