Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No style in English Football

Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas has highlighted exactly what is wrong with English football. Fabregas’ interview with Telegraph should no doubt turn some heads in the FA as to what kind of an approach is needed in England. He explains how constant demand to win neglects what the primary purpose of football is.

“In Spain, we believe in one style of football. The way we play is the most important. It’s about how you do it. You will never play the ball longer or do some things you are not used to. We want to win playing football. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen but we want to be the best this way. We did it last summer and we want to keep doing it”

Footballistically, the culture and expectation around Europe is staggering compared what we witness in England. Bert van Marwijk, the Dutch manager that led them to the World Cup finals was constantly slaughtered in the Dutch media for his style of football throughout the World Cup as was Dunga, though as much as I despise them for reasons unknown, I must admit watching Brazil in the World Cup I thought was fantastic.

The approach we in England take to football has given us no recognition of any sort for years and although the country can boast having the best league in the world, the fact of the matter is that it is the foreign players that light up the league.

Teams can play with defensive long ball tactics against tougher opposition. That is understandable when so much is at stake in the game. Whereas a game watching Stoke play Blackburn can be interesting to see how many players leave unscathed, we can be assured that the rest of the world would be sitting there having a good old laugh at us.

“Here in England it is passion and the fans love it when there are hard tackles and you play long balls and counter-attack. If you do that in Spain they will boo you.”

“…because they are used to another kind of football. Here [in England] if you play good football, good football, good football and you don’t win then they can boo you for the opposite. You have to believe in your style and go for it”

Football is an entertainment business and that is the truth of the matter. In recent days however, we have seen the word “entertainment” removed from the phrase. And it is exactly the reason why England always fail at the major international stage. There is a lack of discipline among the players mixed with a complete disregard for what the game stands for.

Over the past 6 or 7 years, other than Wayne Rooney at Everton/Manchester United and Steven Gerrard, there hasn’t been any English players that would turn a head in World football like Iniesta, Ronaldo, Fabregas and Messi would.

“In Spain they make you study and have discipline,”

“You can be a good footballer, but if you don’t study, if you don’t behave, if you don’t have the discipline to get to training on time and eat well then they don’t care if you’re the best."

“Discipline and humility is very important. If you think you’re better than the others they’ll put you on the bench straight away. "

“They want the kids to be good but they want it to be that when they get into the first team, they behave the same way they did at 16."

"And that’s the most important thing because now it is very easy at 17 to become a first-team player, get some money and to go back down again because you think you have made it. But in Spain they would never let you do that. If that happened you would be out of the team straight away.”

It is hard to imagine how a player like Kevin Davies with some 120 goals and some 112 yellow cards can go home on a Saturday evening sit down and think, “I enjoyed my football today”. How do you enjoy playing football when all you’re doing through a game is watching out for when the long ball comes in and then bask in the glory of beating it past a defender by wrestling him to the ground?

“Sometimes my family couldn’t find me. You are out on the street. you came back at 12 o’clock at night and rested and then got up on Sunday morning and did it again. It was like this. One of the things you see in Spain a lot is that when you go, especially in small towns, on the street you play street football with your friends.”

"You cut your knees badly but you still stand up and play and it’s important to do that at this age. From there, players progress in a certain way."

“You fall on the floor, you stand up, you hit a wall, you sometimes break some windows. That is the beauty of football in Spain.”

There are no technically gifted players in the England team as there is of the robust energy powerhouse players which is useful to have, but causes an imbalance.

Rest assured, the new generation of players coming through to the English team have promising abilities. Jack Wilshere, Rodwell of Everton and Adam Johnson from Manchester City look the part in what is needed start undertaking a new philosophy in football

“I’m sure you have the players, but you have to find your own style. We were not born like it but we were taught to play like it.”


  1. For all of my life following english football, i've hardly read a master piece as this. If english football were to be dominated by english players, nobody would pay £2 to watch a match. This is more the reason outside england, at the world stage, england is no better than nigeria despite the millions put into football. Little wonder a chelsea team would be celebrated for been physical than an arsenal team that has a philosophy of playing football with a style known with the team. English football, wake up. Foreign players make u thick. Enough of the leg-breaking scenes. Gunners 4life!

  2. Chelsea are probably the only team in this world that can make a 6-0 look boring. Agree 100% with this!

  3. Regarding England neither do they have the players, Manager who understands the ethos to not just pass and move, but to get English players to run with the ball and for them to lose the fear in losing the ball from time to time.

    Players are robust and strong in England team , but there are few who are calm on the ball like Xavi, Alonso, Fab, Arteta, Martinez and Iniesta.

    There is no rhythm in Englands play as I have been saying for 25 years they win games as opportunists not by beautiful football.

    There are kids coming through like Jack, Gibbs,Sterling, Shelvey, Coady, Rodwell,Wickham, Johnson, Rooney and Carrol still young, but will still fail as you need a manager to set that style of play and follow a blue print which England do not understand and it is a Myopic route they always follow.

  4. I agree with they win games as opportunist. The national team is lucky that they have a famous league which makes international opposition fear them.

    The problem is that there are no technically gifted players in England. Players like Rooney and Lampard work hard but are not technically very good compared to a Fabregas, Iniesta or Villa.

    The new generation coming through will hopefully better the previous.

  5. I disagree with Shrek, he is technically gifted and not because of his lucky Shin against City (kidding).

    I agree England have not the technical players of Spain, but because Spain are en Vogue currently people talk about the 3 midfielders above.

    In fact lesser teams have won the World Cup (with less technical players), but as I said above they do not have the Ethos, Squad (there was no attacking depth) and Manager (Fabio excellent manager, but not for a national team).

    Example, look at the Utd team who I loathe they have a rubbish squad, but know how to win unfortunately.

    Look at the poor Liverpool team according to Hodgson, as soon as he went a Manager came in who understands them and they have/will improve and will challenge next season for the top 4.

    Managers play a big part, I don't care what that twitcher Redknapp says, 'that the best squads will win you the league', the manager provides the tactics, the will/hunger to win and acquires the coaches which play his brand of football.

    England should be going further, no doubt, but they are just arrogant and they have absolute no pattern of play.

    You can not drum 21-32 year olds to be technically gifted, but you can make them into one unit and ensure a team mentality to win games alas Mourinho and Fergie.