England produces strategy to end trophy drought
WEMBLEY, England – England's Football Association unveiled a new strategy Friday to produce better players to prevent a repeat of the national team's dismal showing at the 2010 World Cup.
England, which was outclassed by Germany during its second-round loss in South Africa, has not won a major title since the 1966 World Cup.
Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of development, believes his 25-point plan of action should help end that title drought, although he has urged fans to be patient and not expect instant success.
Brooking's proposals, which were published Friday, are centered around improving the technical ability of players from the ages of 5 to 16 and putting a stronger coaching system in place throughout the country.
That starts with the hiring of a new elite development coach to work across all age groups. Gareth Southgate, the 40-year-old former Middlesbrough manager, has already been linked to the job.
"I am not saying these changes will make us world champions overnight," Brooking told a briefing at Wembley Stadium. "We need to develop more and better English players and hopefully they will eventually break into the first teams of our elite clubs and into the international team. ... These recommendations will hopefully produce better quality players."
Currently, Brooking sees youngsters struggling to string passes together and goalkeepers lacking basic skills.
"Unless they get an understanding of how to find a bit of space, pass it, and just move around and keep the ball, they'll never be able to get halfway to replicating the game they see on TV at present," Brooking said. "The skill base you do have to have ... a lot of youngsters haven't got anywhere near that."
Brooking has been analyzing how Spain produced the players that have delivered world and European titles in the last three years.
"Every year, they're right there competing," the 62-year-old former England midfielder said. "The people who won the European Championship and the World Cup, they won titles at (under-) 17s, 19s and 21s, and that's what we want to look back on in five or 10 years' time."
The Young Player Development Review, which must be ratified by the Professional Game Board in April, recommends that English clubs should be forced to release players for national duty at all age levels — not just for the senior squad.
"It's about getting tournament experience against some of the best teams in Europe and the clubs will get the benefit of that experience because they will get a better player coming back to them," Brooking said.
England did win the European championship at the under-17 level last year by beating Spain.
And Brooking believes that by producing better players domestically, clubs can avoid paying large transfer fees to lure foreign stars.
"There is going to be a need in the next few years for us to develop our own homegrown talent," he said. "Obviously the clubs have been buying in overseas talent, but with the euro as it has been for the last three or four years, it is probably costing them 30 or 40 percent more to bring the same player in than it did a few years ago."