Are these men qualified to safeguard English football?

Nepotism is endemic throughout the world – football is no exception. As much as we like to believe that we live in a meritocracy it isn’t always the case. Whilst this writer may stop short of suggesting that certain members of English football’s hierarchy acquired their posts though such means you do have to question whether those deciding the fate of English football are in possession of the qualities that their posts require.

Take, for example, Sir Trevor Brooking and Gareth Southgate. Prominent members of the FA charged with developing the next generation of this country’s footballers, charged with bridging the undeniable gap between ourselves and our continental rivals.

The two men work in cahoots as the heads of ‘elite’ development for the FA. In essence their role is to oversee a change in the way young footballers are coached in this country. Clearly they do not make decisions based solely on their own judgements and some of the initiatives being introduced do appear to be promising, if for no other reason than they are loosely based on the Spanish and German systems.

However, can England really expect to create a culture of coaching that allows us to catch these nations with Southgate and Brooking in charge?

Can we really expect two men, whose combined medal tally amounts to two FA Cups, two League Cups and the InterToto Cup, to be the ones to take on such a monumental task. In Germany they have men like Beckenbauer addressing such issues, in England we have Southgate.

However, their lack of any real status as players could be forgiven had they been exceptional managers, which is, after all, clearly the most important quality for such a job. How can the FA appoint two former managers to such positions considering they have never demonstrated the requisite level of expertise when it comes to developing young players themselves?

Yes, research can be done by Brooking and Southgate, but without ever having either received or given world class coaching they are not in a position to decide whether or not we should adopting different coaching styles. As a pair, it is understandable that the FA tried to match up two men from different generations in an attempt to create perspective within the job, but that counts for little if the men themselves are not up to the task.

The gulf in class between England and the eventual winners of the European Championships, Spain, is perturbing to say the least. A player such as Juan Mata, who would have been a key figure had he been English, was limited to less than ten minutes for the entire tournament. The same could be said of Llorente, Cazorla and a host of others in the Spanish team alone.

I spoke to Teddy Sheringham before the Euros and asked him if he agreed that this was one of the poorest England squads for a decade, he said he didn’t but I can’t quite understand his reasoning. We may have had similar squads but in comparison to the top European nations we are slipping ever further behind our rivals. We can hype our players as much as we want in England, we can fool ourselves in to believing that, on their day, our players are as good as anyone’s, but they’re not.

When Germany were knocked out of Euro 2000 without winning a game they completely redeveloped their coaching strategy. We might not have had as bad a tournament but our prospects are far from bright.

As England and the FA embark on the initiatives that will determine the next crop of English football, and subsequently our tournament hopes for the next two decades, we need to ask ourselves: are Brooking and Southgate really the most qualified men for the job?

Follow Hamish on Twitter @H_Mackay

 


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