There’s been time for a period of reflection after Greg Dyke’s introspective narrative on the trials and tribulations of the English game, and what needs to change in order to get the national team back in the higher rankings of the world game from our currently lowly status of seventeenth, tucked in behind Chile and the USA.
I’ve heard and read many ideas of how to change the scenario to give young English players a better chance of playing first team football and developing the potential that they have. Some, such as Everton manager Roberto Martinez have declared that there isn’t so much wrong with the ability of players at the early stages of their careers, but unlike in Spain, there isn’t the chance for them to play in many competitive matches, to case-harden their techniques with real game time experience. Continue reading →
From pictures of Barack Obama watching in apparent rapt attention on Air Force One, to videos of him publicly telephoning the squad and telling them “You did us proud!” it seems like America has finally ‘got’ football – and got it bad! On the day after the American team was eliminated from the World Cup by Belgium, ‘USA Today’ reported that despite the defeat, “soccer in America…got nothing but a big win!”
Cossetted in his penthouse in Brazil, such comments must warm the cockles of Sepp Blatter’s heart. If the 78 year-old danced a little Swiss jig of joy that his sport has finally broken into the most lucrative market in the world however, he probably should temper his exaltation and read on a little. The article goes on the say that “Did everyone understand the rules? Most certainly not. Will a lot of the people who watched the game stop caring about soccer tomorrow morning? Absolutely.” Hmm, perhaps not so much on the big breakthrough then, eh Sepp? So, USA. All that ‘soccer’ thing. How’s that working out for you?
Yes, I know a lot of people will say things like ‘You say that now…’ but you’re going to have to either believe me or not, I guess. It is true however that Louis van Gaal’s goalkeeper substitution shenanigans in the World Cup quarter final over the weekend brought back memories of another penalty shoot-out some twenty-four years ago, and an outlandish suggestion I made at the time. Continue reading →