How it used to be…..

It’s 8pm on a Sunday night. It’s been a weekend without live football, and yet I feel compelled to type this up. I’d kinda promised myself this wouldn’t become a regular gig, I’ve got enough on conjuring up 500 to 600 words every week for Seasiders Review, the matchday programme for Bridlington Town ( 3 x award winning, as Twitter followers are regularly reminded ! ) But due to some kind comments, and 119 views of the last effort, and a busy Christmas period around the corner, I thought I’d give it another go. Besides, the wife’s put the X-Factor final on, so I’ve the thick end of 2 hours to kill. Not that I can complain, as I’ve spent a large part of the afternoon watching Sky’s Super Sunday football. Yes, you read that right, something I often vent my anger at, armchair supporters, I’ve become, for this afternoon atleast. Not that I’ll be making a regular feature of it. But that 4 hours gave me the inspiration for this, if that’s the right word to use.

First up were Aston Villa and Arsenal, followed by Spurs and Newcastle. Now I’m old enough to remember the great Villa side of the early 80’s, names such as Withe, Morley, Shaw. European Cup wins thanks to a young keeper called Nigel Spink. This Villa side is a shadow of that team. I know they say you should never compare era’s, but there wouldn’t be a single player in today’s line-up that would grace the team from 1982 that defeated Bayern Munich. And this in part is the reason for tonight’s piece ( bear with me on this one, I’m getting to the point ). Today’s Villa side is full of names I barely recognise. Arsenals side has for a long time lacked English talent. Spurs have the prodigious talent that is Harry Kane and Deli Alli but few more, and Newcastle, a team that less than 25 years ago called on the talents of Gascoigne, Waddle and Beardsley , today had Jack Colback as it’s only England qualified starter. It’s not just these four teams that have a lack of English talent, the Premier League is a United Nation’s of footballing mercenaries.

So where is all the English talent ? Does it even exist ? In a week when Jose Mourinho questioned Chelsea’s Academy, and even called for it to be scrapped due to it’s lack of unearthing English talent, to a whole raft of fixtures being called off at grassroots level due to the bad weather. Certainly there are more questions than answers. Where is the funding for grassroots community clubs ? How can we expect youngsters to pick up skills when they’re ankle deep in mud. What about funding for 4G pitches at clubs ? Surfaces that can be used 365 days of the year, giving more opportunity for kids to play. Where are the qualified coaches ? In England we have one tenth the number compared to Germany. Why aren’t we pushing cheaper UEFA licences to current players at the lower levels, so they can go into coaching at schools and Colleges ? Are we coaching the talent out of kids at an early age ? Are they too robotic to think on their own, to make decisions in games, to be mavericks ? What happened to players taking people on ? Too much is made of possession today. Possession looks good in stats, but stats don’t beat fullbacks and whip crosses in. No wonder we rave about talent like Barkley at Everton, and big them up long before they have even played 50 league games, such is the dearth of exciting talent coming through.

As I said, too many questions and not enough answers. The whole thing needs looking at, from the local non-league side all the way to the top of Government. How we approach the game, and how we get and keep kids involved, at a time when they have so many other distractions. Why would they leave the comfort of their bedroom and X-Box playing FIFA 15 to stand on a muddy pitch in the depths of Winter ? It’s one of the many issues that need addressing before we can even think of having our Premier League sides full of English talent, never mind an International side that has any hope of ending nearly 50 years of hurt.


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