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A thorough and brutal look at the whole range of areas where England are going wrong
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