England’s deterioration at
international level was confirmed when FIFA’s player of the year shortlist of
23 was announced this week. Not one was an Englishman and that’s despite Wayne
Rooney becoming the highest paid player in the world at $375,000 a week,
England being the home of football since it created the official rules and
league structures at the end of the 19th century and the Premiership is the
richest, most entertaining league in the world.
England supporters must be even
more dismayed by the fact that Fabio Capello, who ‘earns’ $9m annually – which
is double what most of the other top coaches are paid – didn’t make the
shortlist as coach of the year.
The English FA has always been
badly run, made poor decisions and ignored the obvious. One that springs to
mind was not giving Brian Clough the England manager’s job even though he
patently deserved it. Another was keeping Sven Goran Eriksson on for too long,
putting his excessive compensation package ahead of the need to get rid.
Handing the reins to the inept Steve McClaren followed. Letting John Terry get
away with all his indiscretions before the inevitable chop was another. Even
now, the feeling is that Capello has lost the plot but it would be too
expensive to sack him rather than let him muddle through for another two years
and see out his contract. Seems like a really weird cost-cutting measure.
Rooney’s manipulation of his
situation at Manchester United to land a king’s ransom set a dangerous
precedence which will definitely be copied by other greedy, self-centred
players in the future, orchestrated by similarly avaricious agents like
Rooney’s Paul Stretford.
England’s 0-0 last dismal showing
against Montenegro a couple of weeks ago was an indication of how far they’ve
sunk. They were deservedly booed off the Wembley pitch. There is little
prospect of improving in the future. Club commitments trump international
success for many England players, agents and directors now and that culture is
unlikely to change for awhile. Yes, England want to do well at international
level but the desire is not matched with common sense tweaking.
Obvious changes would be to have
fewer foreign players in the Premiership so that more Englishmen can play in
the top tier – like world champs Spain ensure in their league. A greater
emphasis on skill and tactical awareness at youth level and not just brawn and
speed is another. Plus fewer club games so that international squads can work
together for longer. Stamping out completely the drinking culture and endless
yob behaviour which Rooney has exemplified repeatedly in recent times wouldn’t