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The Way Forward: Solutions to England's Football Failings Paperback – 10 Jul 2013
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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.
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
I don't necessarily agree with everything Matt says in the book, but that doesn't matter. There is so much in the book that it is the general thread that a radical shake up is required if England is ever to succeed again - and win a trophy in my lifetime. We had the "Golden Generation" which won nothing. If we had another golden generation would we again win nothing? Probably, because as Matt suggests they would be stifled of creativity, they would not be allowed to develop game intelligence, they would be encouraged to play long by archaic coaches, and some of them would be too small or born at the wrong time of the year to be "spotted", or their places given to foreign players etc....
All these points are generalisations, but as a coach of youth football and scout all I can do is wholeheartedly agree with Matt on pretty much all the points made in the book based on my own observations. The book looks at the problem area in a holistic way looking at the effects of foreign players, academy player make-up, the EPPP, previous failed attempts to modernise, our history of coaching, current coaching philosophies, jobs for the boys, player recruitment, grassroots, the effects of the premier league...to name a few. Despite being involved in football for years I still learnt a lot from the book.
There is good and bad practice in every village, town and city in England, and Matt's book certainly paints a picture of a way forward that we can only hope Greg Dyke reads and takes heed of.
Read it, it will make you think
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