England the solution

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Green Room.  Today we’re going to have a chat about a matter close to all our hearts. This is a topic that’s been discussed more times than many other equally baffling mysteries. The meaning of life. The Bermuda Triangle.  Life on Mars. Is there a God? Does her bum really does look big in that? Perhaps the latter not so much a matter of mystery more honesty over silence. In today’s get together we discuss the greatest of them all. The enigma that is the England football team. They promise so much and raise our hopes only to deliver nothing and leave them dashed.

Is there a solution to end this eternal cycle of lost dreams, and disappointment? This (now) 45 years of hurt, and counting. I believe there is. There is only one way the England team can salvage some respect, and perhaps even win something for the first time since before decimalisation. A way for the England team to qualify for a tournament and still represent a nation that has her nerves and hopes in tact. It doesn’t involve “getting stuck in”. It doesn’t involve a “battle in midfield” It doesn’t involve a bandaged head or “hitting one long for Rooney to chase” or tears when all of this has failed.

The only solution to England’s woes is to embrace all that’s good in the beautiful game and to adopt a new style of play. A patient style. A technical style. An intelligent style. A style which will see the team take more care of possession, be more imaginative in attack and more resolute in defence. Simple. Or is it? “We don’t have the players for that” I always hear. “That’s not our mentality”, we drone. Well it’s time we faced some cold hard facts.

We don’t have the players for that? Well, get rid of the ones we have and find the players for “that”. It’s not our mentality? Well it’s time to change the mentality we currently have and get our heads in the right place. I am astonished that from a country of over 60 million people we are unable to find 25 players with some mental strength, some intelligence, and some patience to play decent football to a level that doesn’t mean long high balls, inaccurate passes and often comedic defending. It’s time to go back to basics and start again.

This is something we’ve tried to do over recent years and it is beginning to bear fruit with the likes of Jack Willeshire, Henri Lansbury and Kieran Gibbs at Arsenal. Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck at Manchester United, Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey from Liverpool and Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea. These are all technically capable players and it pleases me to be able to name these guys and leave out five or six more who would also fit the bill. If I’d have done the same thing 10 years ago, I think I’d only be able to name Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Joe Cole, give or take a couple of others. Slightly early for Wayne Rooney at that time.

The lads mentioned along with the pick of the current team Rooney, of course, Ashley Young, Steward Downing and Theo Walcott, Jermaine Defoe and Cleverley. This leads me to believe that England definitely has the talent to give any team in the world a good game and the fact there are so many good youngsters is pleasing to see. I believe they certainly are the players for “that”. Mentality? Perhaps this comes with time and coaching which leads me onto the next part of the solution.

Seeing as we have what seems like an abundance of young talent, some of which are ready for the senior stage, why do we not seem particularly overjoyed and confident? It has to be down to the coaching. I never thought Fabio Capello would be the man to move our game forward. In fairness to him, he has improved the mentality of the players in terms of their application, and all-round general behaviour. Well done Fabio, or perhaps ben fatto Fabio whichever, I digress. But this is not enough.

Stuart Pearce for all of the criticism he faced at the U-21 championship in Denmark actually got the side playing some kind of possession football but overall he was undone by his own tactical blunder(s). Is he ready for the step up? I’d say not, but he certainly has the right idea. I don’t think he gave the players the courage to be more expressive until it was too late in my view. They were too safe in too many games. The team played so well against Switzerland but ultimately lost out through no fault of their own. There were definitely glimpses of what could be achieved.

Where are we now? Well Capello is going to leave us after the next tournament – that’s assuming we qualify of course. The search begins for a new lamb to slaughter. For once, however, it seems that there may be a glimmer of hope for us. Step forward Harry Redknapp. I wouldn’t exactly describe him as the messiah or saviour but I would describe him as someone who could get the team playing a more suitable game to benefit from the talent we undoubtedly have and the talent that is waiting in the wings. My only concern about Redknapp would be the disciplinary side, which is one thing I believe we need to keep in check. The last thing we need is what was described as the “holiday camp” mentality coming back.

Redknapp is the best we currently have and I believe he’s got the experience to take the team forward. At least he won’t be relying on “Bosmans” and bargains in the transfer window when looking for players and who knows? In time with a bit of luck and some decent football, we can answer another big mystery. There may actually be a god after all.

Ben Green @Mrbengreen

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