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The Way Forward: Solutions to England's Football Failings
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2014
This summer saw the expectations of an England team at the World Cup at an all time low, and even then the team still managed to disappoint. The club game in England may be one of Europe’s most dominant but that isn’t built on English foundations any more. The money buys in foreign talent in key coaching and playing positions and the English game suffers. Even youth academies are being filled with many a foreign lad, as allowed by the ambiguous “homegrown” rule.

Originally published in 2013, ahead of the World Cup woe, this study of England’s football failings and suggestions for a way forward makes for even more pertinent reading in the wake of the 2014 World Cup disappointment. It also mirrors the fact that the English FA set up a task force in 2013 to look at this very subject and suggest plans for the future. A very topical publication indeed.

Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of where Whitehouse, a professional football coach, feels England are going wrong. From the Premier League and its effects, the flawed methods of Allen Wade and Charles Hughes, the lack of facilities and qualified coaches as compared to other European countries, errors in talent identification and skewed priorities, and everything in between. This is a thorough and brutal look at the whole range of areas where England are going wrong.

Some chapters go into a fair level of depth; notably the one looking at the reasons for and the impact of Charles Hughes’ blueprint for English coaching and playing methods. Some other chapters are rather briefer reaching their conclusion and statements of intent a bit early, but given the wide ranging view being taken here it would be overkill to have delved too deeply into each aspect, so a happy balance has been found by Whitehouse.

As each chapter progressed I found myself nodding my head in agreement and despairing that the patently obvious (in some cases) is so consistently ignored by those in a position to do something about it. It felt at times like listening to one of Chris Waddle’s radio rants at England’s many failings after another World Cup exit. He ranted on many of these points in 2014, just as he had in 2010. The same things were said, but nothing changes, as Whitehouse notes in paraphrasing Einstein no less: “Coaches, players and the FA have been guilty of doing the same things each time and expecting different results.”

Will it ever be thus? We can only hope not, and as Whitehouse reflects there are signs of possible hope for the future, with the junior game focusing on smaller teams on smaller pitches and less of a need for results above anything else. He finishes off with a chapter outlining his own 17 point plan for the future, some of which is fairly unarguable (grassroots and schools investment, coaching investment and so on) and some which would provoke as much discussion as the FA’s B team league proposal such as a switch to a summer season.

Agree or not, Whitehouse sets out his reasons, and if only some of the suggestions made here were fully and effectively implemented there would surely be a greater hope for the future of English football.

This review is from my website thesportsbookreview.com
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2013
Euro '96 was the last time I got excited about England. There was also, a brief moment, after Sol Campbell's `winner' against Argentina under Hoddle in 1998. Not a big return for a country that plays host to "The World's Greatest League', produced the "Golden Generation" and saw fit to ignore Brian Clough - the winner of two consecutive European Cups - when he applied for the national job. What has been the problem? And crucially, what are the solutions? Thankfully, Matthew Whitehouse has written a comprehensive analysis in this book, `The Way Forward - Solutions to England's Football Failings'.

I was a little sceptical and apprehensive when I first read it. Every time England fail to win a tournament (or reach the semi-final), the written press gloss over the detail of the failure, usually by mocking the manager, and then demand `root and branch' action. The action, usually, is a review of procedure or infrastructure and the resulting report outlines the future; then, we ignore it, because the next tournament arrives and we pretend to have a chance.

Matthew's book is different though; although like Greg Dyke and every other FA boss in recent history, there is a chapter looking at the impact of foreign imports and the lack of English players in the Premier League, it is by no means the sole focus. Instead, he delves down into the evidence, looking at a manager's remit, the transfer premium for the `better' English players and even the failings of the `home grown' quota system. Therefore, while the football press focus on cliché after cliché, this book digs deeper and looks at why managers prefer the overseas import; why England ignored or mistreated Hoddle and Scholes; the key ages for footballing development; the lack of practice and street football that would allow children to develop and `learn their trade' away from angry parents and agenda-driven coaches. Furthermore, that is, still, just the tip of the iceberg.

If anything is to change, everyone who cares about football needs to get involved, in whatever way possible. It's not as bad as some would suggest, especially with coaches like Matthew Whitehouse about, with the passion to study, research and put together a book that embarrasses any report ever published by the English FA.

So, I'll say it again: buy it, read it, take notes if you're interested in coaching, learn from it, then give it to someone else who cares about football. Please. This isn't about England winning a World Cup; it's about all the children who want to play - and enjoy - football, getting the right environment from which to learn and excel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2013
Matt Whitehouse has observed, researched and witnessed first hand the problems facing English football.
He is one of the few to offer a viable solution that touches everyone from the grassroots under six player
taking their first steps in the game to the men in charge at the FA.

The book begins by looking at what is going wrong with English football, why there is a lack of talented
players coming through the ranks. But instead of offering the same knee jerk solutions and the
same old platitudes about what should be done, Whitehouse offers clarity and insight.

Changes have to be made at the top of the FA structure, with the archaic FA Council, that will
trickle down the coaching system. Changes have to be made at the bottom of the pyramid that
will see a greater base of talented English players produced.

What separates this book from the morass is that the solutions Whitehouse proposes
could be implemented very quickly, make complete sense and would be welcomed
by the vast majority of people working within the game, and volunteering at grass roots.

This is a thought provoking, system challenging, ground breaking read.

If you are interested in the game of football in England, buy it.

If you are not, buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2013
"The Way Forward - Solutions To England's Football Failings" by Matthew Whitehouse is a must read for any football enthusiast.

Whether you are an armchair fan, a season ticket holder at your local club or a grassroots coach, this book will make you reflect on all aspects of our national game.

Matthew Whitehouse is a prolific writer and analyser about the game which can be seen from his famous blog The Whitehouse Address [...]

However, Matthew is no mere pundit. His analysis and thoughts come from key knowledge as a holder of the prestigious UEFA A Coaching Licence and a Master's Degree in Sports Coaching coupled with practical coaching and youth development experience.

Whilst the book contains no `drills' with which to enhance your coaching practices, it will make you review your personal and our collective national philosophies on how we play and develop the game from the 6 year old novice to the professional and national team levels.

It's an absolute page turner. I recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2014
A clear and concise account of where English football is going wrong in comparison with our European neighbours. Especially relevant with regard to the recent German World Cup success. Matthew Whitehouse shows the way we could quite easily take lessons from the German model and, if so, it could be England who are World Champions in the not too distant future.
Basically, the Germans have exploited their two strongest characteristics: discipline and organisation, to streamline and reinvigorate their youth development. These also used to be English characteristics but they have gradually disappeared over the years. If we could recover them then there is no reason why we could not emulate the German football achievements.
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on 3 July 2014
Sent: 22 October 2013 15:46:35
Premier League Custom Services
Dear Foster ,
Thanks for your email. Extracted from the communication.
We read your email with interest and note that your suggestions have been put together with much consideration.
Your ideas are certainly interesting, and we understand that you are passionate about safeguarding the future of the English game, but unfortunately we are unable to change the system used in the Premier League at present.
Nonetheless it is important to retain our English character by improving our efforts to produce home grown talent, deepening our commitment to community engagement and continuing our investment in grass roots.
Contact Us
The following comment was recently submitted: Name: Foster Doyle
The aims of the FA COMMISSION are two-fold.
The first is to try and strengthen the England team going forward.
The SECOND is to ensure that talented English kids, whatever their ethnicity or creed, are able to fulfill their potential to play at the highest level in English football, something which currently we are not sure is happening.
My grassroots proposal for SECOND objective. Primary school football gives every ethnic group’s children the same opportunity.The teams will reflect the ethnic diversity of the school’s community.Former students to sponsor their old Primary school. www.supportprimaryschoolfootball.co.uk
Regards,

Premier League Customer Services

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on 19 October 2013
This book is a must read for football coaches & indeed any one who really wants to understand the bigger picture
with regard to English football. Matt Whitehouse has done his research and diagnosed a number of key weaknesses
within the game here. He's then put together a number of solutions both short & long term that I think any sentient
coach with half a brain cell would largely agree with. Astonishingly, the reality is, the powers-that-be are still potentially
decades behind in their thinking. Hopefully they'll hear of Matt Whitehouse's book and read it and resolve to implement
a lot of the suggestions. RE solution 2 "Investment in facilities", all of which is good, I would perhaps go further : from
November to February when the weather goes mental in this country and all the games are cancelled -week after week -
we should all go INSIDE and play futsal.

From foundation (8-11) to youth development level (12-16), be it grass-roots to academy level, we should convert to
indoor futsal leagues. The FA should fund properly qualified futsal coaches who actually know what they're doing -eg
understand the technical and tactical complexity of this format- and start a revolution here that's taken for granted in
countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Italy (er... arn't these the nations that tend to win the World Cup & produce many
of the top players?) Wake up FA !!!!!!!!! Convert existing facilities and offer them at inexpensive / subsidized prices
as Matt Whitehouse suggests, but why not be even more ambitious with a massive nationwide investment in futsal facilities replete with top futsal
coaches across the country. I'd put this as THE NO 1 SOLUTION full stop. A 1% "talent development levy" on the grossly inflated wages
of premiership players (mostly "foreign") would help pay for it.
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on 27 September 2013
Having been a keen reader of Matthew's blog whitehouseaddress.blogspot.com for some time I was keen to see how his thoughts and opinions would transfer into something more substantial than a blog post.

I'm pleased to say that as with his blog, Matthew's book is well researched and well written with strong points made and plenty of supporting evidence to back them up. This isn't just some sort of opinionated rant as is so often with these so called "solutions bibles". It is a well constructed, logical and thoughtful piece that considers the failings of the national team from multiple angles.

A lot of what Matthew discusses in his book is not new to those of us who share his passion for wanting to make things better. Better coaches, better facilities, an updated curriculum, a national strategy etc are all things that we hear about almost every day. The difference here is not just talking about what we need, Matthew presents ways of actually doing this, citing examples from respected authorities within sport and within the game itself.

Considering the clear amount of effort and research that has gone into this I think it is good value and what makes it more appealing is that it's actually written by someone who has experienced these failings first hand from his time working in professional academies and grass roots programmes.

I've already recommended Matthew's book to a number of my fellow academy coaches and it has provoked discussion and debate on some of the issues that Matthew talks about. For me that is proof enough that Matthew's efforts in putting together this book have been a success.

If you want to see how to make the game beautiful once more, buy it. Now.
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on 24 August 2013
I was skeptical at first that this would be a sensationalist book laying the blame of all football failure at the feet of the FA. I often read Matts very good blog and regular tweets and this collection of his thoughts is well considered and presented. Criticism is fairly appropriated around including the FA, Premier League, Schools, Academies and the protective nature of modern parents and distractions to the modern child.

All the points are made fairly and researched. This holistic approach is delivered with common sense. It's not sensational or dramatic, it offers fairly simple prompts about changes that would make the difference to ALL players in this country, whatever level they wind up playing at. Granted this will frighten the life out of a large portion if the football community but with all things it has to start somewhere.

I agree with large portions of the book and already deliver in a "development" manner (after all, not all will be players but ALL will be adults!) but a number of points I'll be making with my own delivery and that of my coaches. It's like all things in football. Take what you need and interests you and ignore what you don't.

Read this book. Think about what you do as a coach (or football teacher) and make some changes. Matt, me or you won't change football overnight but we can leave it in a better state than we found it.
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on 13 August 2014
For anyone who has concerns over the state of English football this is a must read. For years now I have been banging on about the issues we have in English football and it is uplifting to come across an author who feels the same and has managed to publish a book on it. Meticulously written, the book addresses all the issues we have in our game and then provides solutions on what needs to be done if we are to again see England crowned champions of the world. Whilst to have every solution implemented may be a fantasy, the key ones regarding the standard of coaching and the relationship between the FA and the premier league are a must. Whilst I sit here in a buoyant mood after completing the book my emotion quickly returns to one of pessimism as the realisation that seeing these solutions come to fruition is a fairy tale. Whilst the premier league remains such a powerful body and a dictator of our game then I see a very dark future for English players. I will continue to cling to the hope that the PL will eventually listen and implement quotas and fan majority ownership but whilst the people at the top continue to make millions of pounds I doubt another England world cup victory is something I will see in my lifetime.
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