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England, England, England, or actually should that be Inger-land, Inger-land, Inger-land?

Either way, we are once again left shaking our heads as fortress Wembley once more crumbled like a sand castle facing the foot of the beach bully trying to woo the bikini clad babe.

Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere after Chile's early goal

Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere after Chile’s early goal

This time it is the might of Chile leaving us shaking in our boots. No disrespect to Chile, who, at time of writing find themselves ranked 12th in the world and rightly looking forward to a South American World Cup tournament, but the old adage in football is that you should win your home games.

Surprisingly it is not the defeat alone, nor the nature of the defeat that has led to the penning of this piece, rather it is yet another round of pundits, ex-pro’s and the like taking aim and firing both barrels at what they perceive to be the reason behind the Three Lions continued struggles on the international stage. Martin Keown this time regurgitating the need for fewer foreigners in the English game! Yes that’s why we struggle, too many foreign players in our league!! Hmmmmmm, I suppose if you compare the league in 1966 when we were good, to now, there may well be proof to the pudding as it were, yet in my mind it masks what truly is the problem in our National game, but I will get to that.

Lets explore this claim that foreigners have ruined our international chances. Well it is fair to say that the real influx of foreign stars (obviously discounting the Irish, Scots and Welsh who have obviously never really populated the English game!!) was the introduction of the Premier League. So clearly this is where our International success faltered right? Bar Italia 90 and Mexico 86, how did our national team fair since 1966 before the foreign invasion? Well? Middling? Not so good? I know what I think. Is there a significant change in performance levels of the national side since the introduction of the Premier League? I don’t think so.

Perhaps foreigners (obviously discounting the Irish, Scots and Welsh) have had a negative impact on a more personal level? Yet I find it hard to believe that Gerrard took nothing from his time with Alonso and Hamann, Scholes and Beckham taking nothing from the likes of Cantona, Rooney from Ronaldo and so on and so on. Personally I’m very much of the opinion that the cream will rise the to the top. The influx of foreigners (obviously discounting the Irish, Scots and Welsh) may have restricted the ‘slow-burners’ as it were, like the Lamberts and Parkers of this world, but of our top talent, Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Hart etc it hasn’t.

Taking a quick look at the Chile side that comprehensively beat us and we see in their starting 11, Jean Beausejour who doesn’t start each week for Wigan in the Championship and Aranguiz who plays for Universidad de Chile for example. Yes Sanchez is a world class, but looking at the England starting line up we had 3 Champions League winners, with the rest all playing top flight football in one of the most competitive leagues in the world and winning titles.

Perhaps rather than the influx of foreigners (obviously discounting the Irish, Scots and Welsh) into the league isn’t the problem, perhaps it’s the lack of movement the other way. The top national teams, Spain, Italy, Germany (time of writing we haven’t played them yet) and emerging nations such as Belgium, their squads are formed from players in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga. Experiencing different footballing cultures surely makes for a better player. Is it not fair to say Beckham was a more rounded player following his time at Madrid? Would Rooney be better for a stint with Barcelona? For me this is an issue within the English game, so few of a stars experience life outside of the English game, but for me the real problem lies squarely at the feet of the FA and perhaps this is why nobody is prepared to question.

In my mind it is the FA that is to blame for our failure on the international stage. Lets look first and foremost at the management of the senior team. In recent years we have had two decent managers, Sven and Fabio.

FA's 150th anniversary: Hodgson with Capello, Eriksson, Venables and Taylor

FA’s 150th anniversary: Hodgson with Capello, Eriksson, Venables and Taylor

Now Sven had his opportunity and as can happen in knock-out football cruel twists of fate conspired against us perhaps denying us reaching our potential, and the fact is that Sven stayed beyond his sell by date and the side suffered. Eventually the FA released him and had the opportunity to freshen things up that so badly needed freshening….what did they do? Hired his assistant Steve McClaren! That went well. Fabio comes in, with his undeniable record at club level, and produced a win ratio of nearly 67% before the gloriously mishandled Terry and Ferdinand affair undermining him, the negative press and unrealistic expectations for a team that is never as good as it is made out to be. In comes Roy.

Now Hodgson is a decent manager, no denying that, his success at Fulham, West Brom, Switzerland and Malmo are testament to that, yet he failed spectacularly with Blackburn Rovers, Inter Milan and Liverpool. What is the link here? The success was achieved at clubs where there was no pressure on him, but when he stepped up to the plate at a top side that demands success he strikes out! A proven record, yet the FA award him the position that perhaps carries the most pressure and expectation in world football. Makes sense.

In a modern game where our top stars are playing fluid football, pass and move progressive football in varying styles at clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal under some of the best young coaches (Fergie aside) in the world, they join up at international level with a manager not renowned for his progressive style and then wonder why the players don’t respond, then struggle to qualify.

It doesn’t end with Roy either, look at the U21’s, the last two managers have been Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate, with all their renowned coaching successes! This country has top youth coaches, I’m a Liverpool fan and can personally vouch for Alex Inglethorpe, Aston Villa were NextGen champions, yet it seems you have to be in with the boys and a perfect yes man to get a look in.

If England are to improve on the pitch then by heck they need to improve off it. The talent is there!

Post written by Tim Williams
Twitter: @timdibs

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

Image Credits
Rooney, Jones and Wilshere v Chile © Telegraph/REUTERS
Hodgson, Capello, Eriksson, Venables and Taylor © The FA

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