Jan Kruger – The FA
New FA chairman Greg Dyke has issued a stark warning that England faces becoming a minor footballing nation unless there is radical change.
which put the onus on the Premier League and the leading clubs to show their commitment to the national cause, Dyke spelled out his fears – and expectations.
That would come after a run to the semi-finals of the European Championship in 2020.
Dyke insisted he was not “going to war” with the Premier League, but by pointing out that the number of English players starting for top flight clubs was at an all-time low, he laid bare the problem.
“English football needs a strong England team,” he said. “Success in the Champions League with teams largely, but not exclusively, made up of foreign players is all well and good but it is not a replacement for a successful national team.
“We already have a very small talent pool and it’s getting smaller. In the future it’s quite possible we won’t have enough players qualified to play for England who are playing regularly at the highest level in this country or elsewhere in the world.
“As a result, it could well mean England’s teams are unable to compete seriously on the world stage.
“We have to do something.
“If not, it’s hard to see England even challenging for the World Cup or the European Championship in the years ahead, let alone meeting the targets I’ve set.”
He announced the setting up of a commission, including the Premier League, Football League and Professional Footballers’ Association, to report on bringing through more home-grown players, foreign quotas, stricter work-permit criteria, the loan system and a winter break.
How other major nations changed
FRANCE French football went through a 1970s crisis at club and international level, prompting the French Football Federation to set up Clairefontaine near Paris as one of 11 national centres.
By the 1990s, the clubs were sending their best young talent to Clairefontaine during the week for education and training, before they were allowed home to play at weekends.
The weakness of French clubs allowed the Federation to focus on the national team. After the years of failure, France 98 sparked a golden era of success led by Clairefontaine graduates such as Thierry Henry, William Gallas and Nicolas Anelka.
GERMANY Shocked by the disastrous Euro 2000 campaign (a draw with Romania and defeats by England and Portugal), the DFB (German FA), backed by the clubs who recognised the importance of the national side, went for an overhaul of coaching at all levels.
Some 366 youth training centres were built for 11 to 14-year-olds, with referees ordered to inform the DFB of any young prospects and even the national schoolboy side assigned a dedicated psychologist. The results: Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller, Mario Goetze, Marco Reus.
SPAIN Once England’s biggest rivals for the title as Europe’s great under-achievers, all changed after the 2003 opening of the Ciudad del Futbol at Las Rozas on the outskirts of Madrid, a magnificent footballing university.
It was, though, the tika-taka style of play developed at Barcelona, coupled with the scale of Real Madrid’s scouting policy, that allowed first Luis Aragones and then Vicente del Bosque to hone arguably the finest and most dominant side international football has ever known.
The bitter rivalries between the two clubs were forgotten when the red shirts went on. Result? Xavi, Iniesta, Cazorla, Mata, Fabregas. Take your pick.