Another major tournament and another embarrassing exit for England, this time at the hands of footballing minnows Iceland.
Many England fans expectations of their country proving their worth at a major international tournament has disintegrated as the years go by. At least half of the English fans didn’t think they would qualify out of their group at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and so it proved. Meanwhile, the reigning European and World champions were dramatically knocked out of the group stage after suffering humiliating defeats to Holland and Spain.
However, every English fan will tell you how much better the Premier League is compared to the Spanish equivalent, La Liga. The truth is, England are falling miles behind not only on the national front but also on a domestic side too. Real Madrid and Barcelona are rampant in Spain and the likes of Atletico Madrid are now starting to come through. The same Atletico Madrid side that comfortably dismantled a Chelsea side in the Champions League knockout stages last year at Stamford Bridge. A Chelsea side that are now cruising at the Premier League title, miles clear of their title rivals.
Our country has always been known to be fearless and warriors on the pitch but we always come undone against a technically and tactically superior team. Our academies right from a lower level seem content on becoming physically stronger than our opponent which is a motive completely oblivious to me. A lot of younger players who are technically very good are often released from clubs because they’re ‘too short’. I doubt Barcelona would’ve casted aside Andres Iniesta and Xavi when they came through the academy for not being built like the Hulk.
The Premier League is also becoming much more of a business as opposed to a sport enjoyed by the country. The money being thrown from side to side is crippling the beautiful game many hard working fans are loyal enough to still commit to. Clubs are splashing out record amounts on overseas players instead of looking to nurture one of their own from the academy and taking satisfaction from producing their own. The quick and easy method however is the one the English clubs go to. Spend millions on a foreign player and hope they adapt. Then we go to the first problem when a youngster IS actually given that chance, he isn’t technically up to the standard to compete in the Premier League because his years of training as a kid were more specified to being physically stronger than our opponents.
The money is largely down to the new owners that will eventually see every Premier League club owned by a foreign chairman. Americans seem to be looking to the Premier League due to the popularity of the sport worldwide. This is where the money stems from and the pressure they put on managers to succeed so quickly means the manager is reluctant to field youngsters as time is not on their side.
The majority of the English players are also very poor under pressure and with the fitness levels of the game constantly on the rise; this enables our opponents to pressure us high up the pitch for prolonged periods of the match which increases the likeliness of mistakes. The Spanish are one of the best for keeping possession of the ball in tight spaces and our natural reaction to being closed down is just simply to clear the ball as far as you can and out of danger. In contrast the Spanish have the composure to think with their head and their feet to keep hold of the ball and not gift possession to the other side.
These are just a few reasons why England are in a completely different world to the standard the Spanish have set. If we are to get anywhere near Spain in footballing terms, we must address these issues over the next decade which may stand us in good stead to win our first major trophy since 1966.
Can the current young England team rebound to challenge for the 2018 World Cup?
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