Date: 27th September 2007 at 2:01pm
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Having just read an interesting article in the current Arsenal magazine which featured three of the Arsenal contingent who played for England in the recent FIFA U17 World Cup I turned back to the piece I read earlier in Paul Mersons regular column in the same magazine.

Merse reflects on Trevor Brookings recent call for better coaching to meet the need to improve the technical ability of young English players. In his article Merse agrees with this and says the English system didn`t improve his technical ability. He regrets the fact that we lag behind in technical ability and depth of quality and puts the responsibility for this partly in the hands of English coaches “?.my faith in these coaches is also not good. I`ve seen them first hand and they don`t instil confidence. They pick up their coaching ‘qualifications` easily enough but there is no creativity as far as I can see. No innovative training and very little emphasis on technical skills.”

I have for sometime thought that part of the failure of English national teams at all levels is due to a culture in the English game that doesn`t appreciate the need to coach in a way that enhances natural ability instead of stifling it to conform to rigid coaching conventions. It surely can`t be a coincidence that many flair players originate from third world countries and the freedom of south american beaches and open spaces. There players develop ability naturally before being taught the demands of team play. English football has never taken coaching seriously enough. It surely can`t be entirely coincidental that no english coach/manager has been able to win the PL. There is a laziness in football that has lead the FA to over commit resources to the unnecessary ‘cathedral` of Wembley at the cost of an academy to improve the level of both coaches and players. The same laziness that Nick Hornby, in considering the value of being able to pass the ball, once decided makes English managers, coaches and players favour “alternative methods of moving the ball from one part of the field to another, the chief of which is a wall of muscle strung across the half way line in order to deflect the ball in the general direction of the forwards”

The item in the magazine on our three U17 players that prompted this reflection on my part interviews Rhys Murphy, Henri Lansbury and Gavin Hoyte about their experiences in the tournament. It has a number of interesting points including the fact no club provided more players for the squad than Arsenal and that over 5 and 15 metres Gavin Hoyte is the fastest player at the club. But the parts that gave me pause for thought concerns the coaching that our boys received while with the England set up. Rhys Murphy says ” It`s a different type of service, more long balls. Arsenal have their own style, which we are used to, it`s the way we are taught?different from any other club. In a way that works against us when we play for England.” In talking about the difference between Arsenal and other players in the England team Henri Lansbury says “?us three pass the ball around a lot, and the others prefer to smash it!”

On this and other gooner forums we often find ourselves robustly defending the argument, borne out of naked envy, that Arsenal is bad for English football. But for me there is now a flip side to this question. If the coaching is as poor as it appears to be – Is English football any good for Arsenal?


47 Replies to “Is England Bad For Arsenal?”

  • ditto, good piece amos. It’s clear that there is an Arsenal way – pass and move, comfortable on the ball whilst looking up – Cesc and Ronaldo are great exponents of this – they can run with the ball without needing to look at it – those little looks up before/after the ball arrives gives the illusion that they have more time than other players who don’t possess this skill. The young English players we put through the system also have this ability – Sidwell, Pennant, Bentley are three now plying their trade elsewhere who also show this.

  • Most rival supporters don’t actually show themselves when they know we are right and better than them, so I’m afraid you won’t find out what they think, with a few exceptions

  • yes, i echo that – superb, Amos. Let’s sit back and wait for the usual suspects to come along and offer insightfullness like ‘well, why don’t you **** off to france then’ and similar utterances of ****e. At Arsenal we teach our youngsters to play the game the right way, not the hoof and hack policy much favoured by so many in england… »»Arsene Knows««

  • For me there is no argument. The youth system we had in place pre Wenger had to be completely scrapped and a new one formed, Arsenal and England will reap the benefits in the future. There should be no cutting corners and no quick fixes when it comes to Youth development and Wenger knew it would take a minimum 10-15 years until English players of the correct quality where developed through our own system. Others will ask why we dont buy as many English players as some other teams? Well if you’ve been trained in the Mcdonalds/Burger King youth system then your hardly gonna be ready to cook and prepare food in a michelin starred restraunt are you? I think even young Theo is struggling to adapt to a completley different style of coaching (although im very confident he will make the grade with us).

  • Amos, top bombing son. i really enjoyed that. I couldn’t give a flying toss what rival supporters think personally.

  • I think this is what they call taking a horse to the water. Not for the first time in my life, I would like to see some hardcore drinking.

  • Well as you all know I’m not even English so I dont give a flying ***** about that over paid and over hyped bunch of egomaniac ‘individuals’ that call themselves the English national team. Without the bias of being a supporter of England I would say that yes, it probably is bad for Arsenal, but not just for Arsenal but for the English game as a whole. For one example look at two of the best foreign coaches to have come to England in Mourinho and Benitez whose previous teams played free-flowing attacking football in Europe and Portugal and Spain respectively, yet when they manage here the style of football they are up against week in week out forced them to create boring sides that are really nothing more than more succesful and expensive versions of Bolton under Allardyce, relying on cattenacio and longball styles with a flash of individual brilliance form a Drogba or a Gerrard to win games – Sam could look a lot better to if he could afford Stevie G. Even Jol is a good example, a manager who has tried to bring his Dutch style of football to a club while trying to keep the English back bone of the team and the players just dont fit the system so although they are at times attractive they leak goals like a broken faucet. It is no surprise England fail to succeed on the big stage time and again with the lack of managerial creativity and courage, continually playing Gerrard and lampard in the same side is a perfect example of this, it is sacrificing a good system and style of play for egos and a possible 30 yard goal, but hey they will allblame Arsenal as they need someone to blame.

  • Point well-made Amos – and without fanfare or ridicule, which is more than can be said about some of our bitterest opponents. I’d agree that the culture needs improving. I see it every time I go to play at my local footy centre – whether it’s on neighbouring pitches or even our opponents. The teams that take the game more seriously have a coach of some sort and they always focus on strength, organisation, and grit. They just bark at the players military-style. Getting out-passed or out-run to the ball? Simple – close ’em down, push them off, elbows up! It’s the same grassroots and Sunday league upwards. While football needs a certain amount of ‘warrior’ characteristics, it shouldn’t be at the expense of teaching the more technical stuff.

  • Ozi you must have seen a different Porto team to me if you think they played “free-flowing” football. They were the most boring team ever to win the C.L. Benitez’ Valencia were all long ball too.

  • Ozi and HS, I dunno about the Valencia but Porto must have been the most organised team to win(read boring) CL. JMs style has always been short terms as Mgrs where he motivates the team with Us vs them mentality and have a very rigid game of not allowing the opponents to score. (except for the final ofcourse)

  • Sorry but did any of you ever watch Porto under Mourinho or Valencia under Benitez play in their domestic leagues? Both teams did play attacking football. Once you get to the knock out stages of the CL wether you are Porto, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barca or Milan there will always be a certain degree of ‘boring’ football played as ther is so much at stake, does anybody remember our away games against Villareal and Juventus or the home leg against Madrid? We tried to cancel each team out and hold on to our first leg leads but it made for a more interesting game than when Chelsea or Pool do it cos quite honestly we are horrible at containment.

  • in the Champions Youth Cup that took place in M’sia recently, the Arsenal team played exactly the same system that we see at Ashburton Grove. more enjoyabel than watching England B team or U21 team play.

  • Well written Amos,

    I’ve been banging on about this for ages, mainly in countenance to the jilted opinions of jealous spuds.

    The FA should really be given a collective slap due to the criminal neglect of our youngsters and lack of quality coaching.

    What is most enlightening is the quotes attributed to the young Arsenal lads, who state themselves that they love to pass the ball about while the rest of the guys just lump it upfield.

    This is the English disease in football, we are STILL lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to freedom of expression, tight, technical passing, and creative play. There is nothing but the systematic churning out of athletes, not players, from most youth structures at the grass roots level. Yes this makes for big strong fast athletic chaps, but with trailing technical skills, what?s the point? To be able Lump another ball forward? Please, give me a break.

    As has been said many times on here before, look through the young squads in the England set up and you get to see the real picture, loads of young Arsenal lads permeate all the youth squads from the under 20?s downwards. And your point has real validity:-

    If we are providing the highest possible level of technical coaching, shouldn?t the national team be at least on par if not better? Because if it?s not, it is only serving to stifle the natural development of our future talent. Not just from an Arsenal perspective, but also a National.

    It really grinds my gears to the point of apoplectic rage when we get accused of being bad for the English game, when the English game has been killing itself for years.

  • long balls + Pace + physical = english football! It is just kill the creativity of any good player! Player like fabregas control the pace of the game , make it slow and bring it back fast ! but in normal english teams the pace is high all the game which is so naive! to see carrick the best english passer and can’t make it to the starting 11 of england does tell much about english football!

  • Ozi… Valencia were known for winning games 1-0 when Benitez was in charge and Porto were awful to watch just like Chelsea. Both Rafa and Jose believe in a very rigid and structured style of play its effective but awful to watch. Did anyone watch the Barca game last night? The football they play is top notch + Messi is a dream to watch.

  • Don’t know about Valencia but i have to agree with Ozi that Porto under mourihno actually played some good football.

  • In the article I referred to Lansbury talks about the tournament win over Brazil “When we roughed them up they didn’t like it. When we put in a few hard tackles they didn’t want to know..” So our boys are being coached in the dark arts of british grit. What English football fails to understand is that Brazil will gain more form their defeat than we will from the victory. They will learn to cope with the rough stuff we will only have learned how to stop others playing and not how to play ourselves. Who would your money be on to come back and kick whose arses in 5 to 10 years time?

  • Excellent piece, Amos. Offers an interesting insight, and the thought of these kids being influenced by English coaching isnt pleasant. But I will take small comfort from the fact that this influence on the youngsters cannot and will not drastically change the Arsenal style of play of these kids, since they spend relatively less time on national duty.

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