england: kicking the ball or kicking themselves?

by Marcus Jones

Brazil is set to stage one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world in just over 7 months time, when international teams from all over the globe make their way to South America to be a part of World Cup 2014.

The Brazilians’ home advantage is sure to make them favourites, even over current champions Spain, to go all the way and lift the trophy in the Maracana on 17th July, and although they will have to overcome a lot of challenges along the way, one team that shouldn’t be much of a threat to them, unfortunately, is England.

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England’s fans go into every competition with a sense of hope – a belief that they can overcome the odds to win their first trophy since 1996. Yet the expectation that comes with this leaves English football fans constantly feeling disappointed.

It is not hard to see that there is a huge problem with English football at the current time. We often hear that this is to do with how we are currently developing young players in the country.

Spanish players are so good at playing football the simple way because that is drilled in to them from an early age. Players such as Barcelona’s Xavi and Iniesta are better passers of the ball at the age of 21 than the majority of our players are at 28.

Likewise, the Brazilians showboat because they are allowed to express themselves as youngsters. An up-and-coming Brazilian talent wouldn’t be criticised for an unsuccessful attempt at a new, outrageous piece of skill. The sense of freedom and trust that coaches have in their players allow them to learn from their mistakes, and as a result teach them to make better decisions at the start of their careers.

Now the English Premier League is, in my opinion quite rightly regarded as one of the best leagues in the world, but a huge part of that comes with the players that come from abroad. We are seeing less and less English talent every season, simply because they just aren’t good enough.

As well as this, alarmingly there is a huge absence of good English players currently playing elsewhere in Europe. Celtic’s Fraser Forster, Hamburg’s Michael Mancienne and Sporting Lisbon’s Eric Dier are the only real exceptions, only one of which has a realistic chance of making the final cut.

Foreign teams do not want English players because the majority of them would probably not be able to compete in their very different leagues. This is the problem we have, and until there is a drastic change, the quality gap between us and the best is going to keep increasing.

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