Today I am in a rant mood so thought it best to get a couple of things out of my system and also see what you think?
First moan concerns the number of experienced and talented coaches that are sitting twiddling their thumbs at home or working in various football in the community schemes. This talent is going unused in the development of young footballers at many clubs. Having played the game at the highest level they can help young footballers prepare to the step up from academy/development football to the real thing and the difference between the two is massive.
I was hosting a football Q & A with former Villa and Blues defender Noel Blake a few days ago while I had former Villa, Baggies and England defender Kenny Swain on my Friday night Goalzone programme on Made in Birmingham TV a couple of weeks ago and their knowledge of youth development is as good as anyone’s and they can combine it with great playing careers-both playing over 600 league games.
These two guys were part of the England youth set up until both were replaced by Dan Ashworth. Now I don’t know why but can only assume it was because they were “old school” or getting older and yet both had a good reputation within the game and, as I understand it, also with the players.
Swain, Blake and John Peacock were in charge of the England U16’s, U17s, U18s and U19s and were responsible for finding and developing players that would eventually play for the full England team. Their success or failure was in how many players they coached that eventually went on to win caps for the full national squad. That list is quite impressive and includes Butland, Lingard, Rashford, Sterling, Barclay, Townsend, Welbeck, Sturridge, Mason and Shelvey to name a few. Victor Moses and Nathan Redmond also came through the “system” although Moses elected to play for Nigeria while Redmond looks certain to get a call up from Gareth Southgate anytime soon.
The guy who currently runs the England U16s is Dan Micciche who I believe has never played the game at professional league level. Now I confess I don’t know him and have never met him so he may be a nice guy and a good coach however I had my doubts when I saw a quote attributed to him about the U16s playing his way with freedom, expression and style- he said "Playing this way doesn't guarantee results, but it guarantees players enjoy being with England”
Along the same lines I read recently where a head Coach said that “the fans wanted to watch a well-coached team”. Have I got it wrong when I say in my opinion the fans want, and have always wanted, to see a winning team?
Surely the game is and always has been about winning at any level? And that winning must be the target/goal for every single game.
I am amazed that there is no role in the FA England set up for Swain and Blake considering their experience and the number of players they have developed through to the full squad?
While at academies at club level surely there is room for the experience and talent of former players such as Gordon Cowans, Kevan Broadhurst and many others. Because of the lack of opportunity at club level many experienced players have set up their own academies.
In my opinion academies should be run by ex-players as I believe is the case at the big clubs in Germany, while, without doubt, every academy team should have an ex-player involved in the coaching on a day to day basis.
Lots of fans complain to me about the lack of visibility of numbers on the backs of shirts. Now this is not a problem for your own team as invariably you know most of the players but for away supporters it can be a nightmare. Newcastle used to be dreadful with black numbers on a black and white striped shirt- you would have no idea who the number 11 was until, after many complaints, they put a white patch on the back with the black number clearly visible. Two that definitely cause problems for fans are Blackburn Rovers and Reading. Forget fashion and sort it out.
Last week I wrote about safe standing and it not surprisingly received amazingly high response because it’s a subject that many fans feel passionate about. Before writing the column as part of my research I contacted the Football Supporters Federation for some information and quotes as well as someone to do an interview to use in my Goalzone show last Friday. I was promised that someone would be back to me as soon as possible. I am still waiting!
They had a great opportunity to get their views across about an emotive subject but were sadly found wanting.