IN case you missed it, Greg Dyke, the new FA Chairman, said this in a speech last week.
“I’ve been planning this speech almost from the day I was offered the job as FA Chairman and I have read with interest recently people arguing that English football needs a 10-year plan. I agree with that. But if we need a plan we also need targets so we can judge whether or not we’ve been successful.
So today I want to set the whole of English Football two targets. The first is for the England team to at least reach the semi finals of the Euro Championships in 2020 and the second is for us to win the World Cup in 2022. Now this doesn’t quite give us ten years – the first tournament is seven years away and the other nine years – but what’s a year here or there.”
Cue a week of English national navel gazing.
No technical ability anywhere in the entire nation.
Technique. Passing. Why is it always “up and at ’em?”
The kids don’t play all the way through each age group to the full squad, and get used to tournament football.
We can’t do anything until we have qualified UEFA badged coaches by the thousand.
Blah blah blah blah.
As a Scottish schadenfreuder looking on, it’s a perennial source of mirth, this stuff. The solution’s staring them right in the face, but they miss it. I mean, look at them all. If Henry Winter spent half as much time actually thinking about the problem at hand rather than crying about his beloved Hodgson being marginalised from the Anfield Directors’ Box, maybe he’d trigger a collective Damascene conversion.
Let’s break it down. (It’s OK fellow Scotsmen, they’ll ignore this.) Greg Dyke set a target. Two of them, in fact.
1. Get to the semi finals of the Euros in 2020.
2. Win the World Cup in 2022.
The squad are going to be permitted to piss about in 2014, 16 and 18. The expectation will kick back in at the Euros in 2020.
Presumably that’s all down to the fact the problem is insoluble unless, ehm, something about 10,000 hours, and quality coaching, and kids playing together through all the age groups, ehm, tournament football experience, and 10,000 hours. And coaches with UEFA badges. There needs to be 6 years of them doing their stuff.
Of course, all that will help improve the standard of football in England – a rising tide lifts all boats and all that. But d’you know what? England already qualify for tournaments. And they tend to qualify out of the group at those tournaments. And after that point, it’s knockout football. Cup football.
England have just had a “Golden Generation” of footballers. People laugh at that tag, but it’s probably fair – the players in question have won all kinds of European honours. They’re genuinely great footballers.
So you have a national set up that gets you to the point that it plays knockout football. And you have a coaching set up and national game that churns out genuinely excellent players. Already, I mean. Some of the players in that side are genuinely excellent. One even has an FA Cup Final named after him.
It’s not that hard, is it? Hire a manager who’s good at cup football, and who’s a solid, resourceful, and sufficiently flexible tactician. Hire a Hiddink or a Benitez.
Then do stuff that helps make the players actually look forward to going away to play with their country – just do some thinking on that. Then buy the media some nitrous oxide balloons and have them get a Coke and a smile about the whole thing, instead of rendering it all such a pompous, tedious ordeal every few months.
It’s pretty simple. Then you’d make your semi finals every time and have a good chance of surprising people once you got there.
Hodgson, your media, the whole shooting match – to a Scotsman it’s a bloody Godsend, d’you know that? See if Spain had Roy Hodgson as their manager? They’d be pish too. Just saying.