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English Football

By Tommy Coleman :  23/11/2007 :  Comments (15) :
A lot of questions have been asked recently about the state of English football and I have come up with a few suggestions I would love Everton to adopt.
  1. Abandon kids leagues until they are 12 years old. There is too much emphasis on winning which is not important at that age, it will get rid of the screaming coach/parents, and allows smaller skilful kids to play instead of the big early developed players. Plus, playing kids at left back for example only puts them in a cage and makes them inflexible. They need to be able express themselves.
  2. 2. Full-time football academies where the kids play 20 hours per week football as well as get their school education. Watford are the only team that are doing this and they only started last summer. This system has been running in Brazil for years.
  3. Additional technique training for current professional players. How many English players really improve once they turn 18? Owen was better when he was 18, Rooney is the same player, why can't Hibbrt still not cross the ball or use his left foot etc. The problem with English players is that once that get that professional contract they stop developing, they think they've made it, loads of money, girls, golf days, flash clothes etc . They forget all about improvement.
  4. This is the most important point, a total change in English football philosophy from every football fan in the country. Ask yourself this, how many times have you heard or said the following, ?get the tackle in", ?close him down", ?don?t try that there", "get forward". All comments from the English style of play, we really do need to start learning to appreciate skill and technique, this combined with the English determination really could make us World beaters.

Reader Comments

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Tim Lloyd
1   Posted 23/11/2007 at 15:16:39

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Very much agree with Tommy Coleman’s comments. I feel it is imperative that we ensure our youngsters acquire the football skills of foreign stars before they get too old to learn.

It seems really odd to me, that players like Phil Neville, Hibbert, Stubbs, Carsley for example cannot pass accurately yet are paid a Kings ransom to entertain us.
Erik Dols
2   Posted 23/11/2007 at 15:18:56

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I really enjoyed playing ’real’ matches when I was a young kid. Why on earth would you want to take that away from kids?
Peter Laing
3   Posted 23/11/2007 at 15:49:35

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I posted a thread similar to this a week or so ago about the positive efforts that Everton have made in developing the youth academy, their football in the community programme aimed at promoting sport / physical exercise to kids of all abilities and gender, and the relocation of the academy from Netherton to Finch Farm. The real problem is the role model that the average premier league footballer now portray’s, bling culture, daft wags and a culture that laps up style without any real substance mentality. Look at a country like Brazil, problems with widespread crime and poverty, football is either a way out for the gifted or just a sheer pleasure for the masses.
Phill Sidney
4   Posted 23/11/2007 at 17:16:02

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Couldn’t agree more. I’m a Level 1 coach with a squad of u11’s. Its all well and good saying what we need but the problem is the parents. I have tried to get the boys to play out from the back, unfortunately when they make the inevitable mistakes that lead to goals, the flack starts flying, I would love to create an atmosphere where there is no fear of failure but the parents are not patient and not forgiving. They want their boys to be in a winning team, and if they are good enough they will go to a club/team that is winning. We need a complete attitude change from the parents and boys themselves, right up and through the clubs, coaches, leagues etc.
Ed Casey
5   Posted 23/11/2007 at 17:07:56

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Agreed - the key to a successful future for English clubs and its national side lies with reforming the youth system from park football through to the academies. I also agree that once players sign their pro contracts they think they don’t have to prove themselves anymore and stop trying. I posted a few days ago (in reply to a mailbag post debating Lescott’s England performance) stating I would happily see wage capping with top players wages being made up through performance related pay - give them an incentive. However, none of us are naive enough to think we can just click our fingers and these things will happen. Great ideas in principle but until the top brass decide that FOOTBALL is more important than shovelling cash into their pockets very little will change. I also happen to agree that the mentality of the average football fan could do with re-adjustment but thats easier said than done.
Tommy I agree with all that you have said but despair that it is nothing more than pipe dreams. I fear the argument we should be having is not ’what should we do?’ but ’how can we do it?’.
Tommy Coleman
6   Posted 23/11/2007 at 17:26:14

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Phil Sidney
That really does sum up English attitudes, winning being vastly more important than progression. I imagine a lot of coaches are under pressure to win matches and play kids in positions that the parents want them to play in.
Its the reason I think we need to abandon leagues at that age, I know Erik Dols disagrees, but kids can surely still enjoy playing football without the prizes and pressure of winning league titles.

Ed Casey, I agree with you, how can we can alter our attitudes ? I think it would take at least 10 years as these attitudes are so ingrained, although having full time acedemies wuold be a huge step in the right direction.
Incidently, Brazil, and I think Holland, do not have leagues until the kids are 12/13.
John Lloyd
7   Posted 23/11/2007 at 18:11:09

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I think the ideas are spot on, I dont agree with taking the games away from kids just less frequent, maybe remove competitions but hte emphasis on kids developing is spot on, kids should be playing with smaller balls perfecting technique and move into competitve games as they grow as adults this will allow the smaller/slighter tecnical players as well as the larger early developers as I still believe that the spirit of british football is the never say die attitude & team spirit, this is what the majority of continentals think of us.

We could debate this for hours, I would love to be involved in some massive national debate with a view to completely overhaul the whole coaching structure of the FA but it should be up to them to organise something not just announce a token funding initiative & new England managers, where the same old issues will remain!!

From Evertons point of view obviously the better technical young players coming through academy means they can concentrate more on the positional, fitness work while continuing the good start made by the youths in schools and coaching clubs.

My only fears with this would be it could possibly face objection or ruin saturday & sunday football for kids which is something I loved growing up as they wouldnt have the funds to implement such radical changes.

Just wish these things would be argued or debated by people in power to make changes, instead of sitting in big offices taking big paychecks for picking poor England managers.......FA, UEFA, FIFA along with most major sports governing bodies (barring Rugby League) are run by old men out of touch with what is genuinly good for thier games. Twats, absolute twats the lot of them
Lee Spargo
8   Posted 23/11/2007 at 18:33:14

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I like points 2, 3, an 4.

However, there’s nothing wrong with instilling a competitive spirit at a young age. Keep the leagues.

Kids should also be encouraged more by parents and scoolteachers to take part in sporting activities. There are too many parents who simply cant be arsed taking their children to football coaching or to a sports centre. Likewise, schools are more geared to scoring points for exam results than trying to help kinds achieve anything in sport. Facilities are often poor. But that’s because the kids dont have much respect - leading us back to the parents!

Dont get me wrong, academic qualifications are imortant, but not the be-all and end-all. If we had half the amount of young people who are wasting time getting pissed and coasting through Uni enrolled in sports academys, we’d probably do a lot better at everything, not just football.
Ajay Gopal
9   Posted 24/11/2007 at 09:15:09

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I am far removed from the English game (except the Everton games), but there is one point that I feel strongly about (which I posted after the refereeing farce of the derby game).

The officials and FA should make the Premier League a more even playing field - forget about capping player salaries, the number of imported players, etc.

Just treat every player and team the same. Don’t give special treatment to the Gerrards, Rooneys, Ferdinands, Lampards, etc of the English league. Treat them as they would any other player from the league.

The stars have got so used to being protected in the league by the officials, that they get found out in the internationals. That is one of the reasonsthat most of the so-called top stars perform poorly on the international stage.
Paul Okell
10   Posted 24/11/2007 at 12:12:37

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I have watched lots of kids matches boys and girls and they are ruined by parents, who fight and argue on the touchline.
When I was a kid we were embarrassed if our parents came to schoolboy games.
I was at an astroturf pitch watching a boys team train and a girls team were on the next pitch last week. The boys played a game only with no coaching by the coach, the girls trained on corner kicks, defence v attack, crosses and shooting and then played a short game. We do need to improve our grass roots coaching. Maybe the girls play for fun and the boys play to become the next Beckham with parental pressure.
John Lloyd
11   Posted 24/11/2007 at 12:54:58

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Having played in junor leagues & now with my lad involved in junior leagues parents on the side are not that big a deal, if they do shout nonsense then its up to the coach to tell the lad to listen to what he says and forget the rest ofthe shouts about him.

As I have mentioned on anearlier post, how do we deal with kids leagues as most of the clubs in Liverpool are ran by people/parents in thier own time and funded by either a local boozer/business or the kids parents, that is where 90% of liverpool/geordie/mancuninan/yorkshire kids learn to play. Suggestions on a postcard
Liam Pender
12   Posted 25/11/2007 at 01:10:41

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You just stole your ideas from the Australian football report released earlier this year
George Brooks
13   Posted 25/11/2007 at 16:56:00

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Liam,what the hell?
john lloyd,yes ok,but english kids are trained too much in giving 100%,we need to harness the likes of;-gascoigne,hoddle,rooney,joe cole,sheringham,le tissier,mckenzie(remember him)marsh(remember him),all other teams around the world have lots of these players,why don?t we?,cos we just don?t think that skillfull players are anygood on the international stage.(bullshit!!)why do they do it and not us?
Duncan McDine
14   Posted 25/11/2007 at 20:39:05

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Great article, I totally agree that the English mentality is detrimental to our football. But when I thought about it I realised these 2 very important things (which rubbishes most of my beliefs about how footy should be coached)...

1. In Holland they coach in a very similar way to your / my ideal method. Certainly at Ajax, all players swap positions from one game to another, and the enphesis is on quality passing football.

2. In Italy, they take winning to a new level, and will teach the kids from an early age that winning is the only thing that matters (often tought how to cheat aswell).

Unfortunately for football purists like you and me, Holland have won very little, and Italy have won a hell of a lot when it comes to titles.

Sorry to go against the grain, because I feel really strongly that we have such ignorance to good football in this country (in general).

Cheers, Dunc
Liam Pender
15   Posted 26/11/2007 at 03:27:49

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Points one and four are almost identical to points in a technical report about australian football in june. point two is also similar to idea expressed in the report.

Though perhaps the problems we face in Australia are similar to you British in these respects.

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