There are no Premier League matches, due to the International Break so this week, I want to focus on something which I am so, so passionate about, which is the way in which the game of football is played.
First of all, I want to touch on what Gareth Southgate said to the media, which to be honest, was music to my ears – I thought he had a blinding press conference.
He said that the players he’s brought in are boys who can handle the style of football he wants to play and let me tell you: fans have got to get a grip of this quickly.
I’ll always remember what Xavi said a few years ago when he spoke about playing at Barcelona, where he emphasised the fact that they WERE NOT RESULTS BASED. They were a team of players who constantly wanted to receive the ball and wanted to own and dominate possession.
This is something Gareth touched on in his own words, where for him, it’s not about having a bloke that’s 6ft2, built like a brick sh*t house and can run up and down all day. It’s about lads that can manipulate the ball, know what to do with it in the right areas of the pitch and do well in tight spaces.
I know he’s injured for the games against Germany and Brazil, but the prime example of this would be young Harry Winks at Tottenham. I can GUARENTEE you that when he was coming up through the ranks and trying to make it in the youth set up, they would always ask the same thing: HAS HE GOT THE STATURE? They’d question whether he’s big enough, whether he can mix it with the bigger lads in the team… what a load of b***cks!!
Did they look at Iniesta, Xavi and Messi when they were coming through the ranks and question their size?! OF COURSE THEY DIDN’T!!
I don’t care what anyone says, Pep Guardiola is the best manager in world football and he doesn’t give a monkeys about what fans, chairmen, players or colleagues say about the way his sides play. He’s got his playing style: LIKE IT OR LUMP IT. From what I heard from Southgate, he’s got the same mentality.
Let me tell you something right now: if you’ve got eleven technically gifted players who are all on the same page (which I believe England have), they’re coached right, they’re brave and take no notice of the crowd when it’s 0-0 and you’re still owning the game, THAT IS A BIG KEY TO ENGLISH FOOTBALL.
England have to teach the fans how it’s done, not the other way round. I’m the biggest England fan you’ll find – but players have to forget about us and own what Southgate believes in, which is possession based football.
This is the way I was taught to play and this is the reason why I really back people like Southgate, Guardiola and even the likes of Glenn Hoddle. Throughout my WHOLE career, I had people commenting on my size, but technically, I know I was good enough to play for a TOP TEAM in the Premier League – I’m certain.
The trouble is, and with all due respect, I’d be playing with another seven players who couldn’t play possession football. It was just lumped up by the centre half and played in the opposition’s third – that’s a crap way of being taught!! I want to play on every third of the pitch!! Hopefully that’s what Southgate will bring to England.
I’m not being funny, but I used to have foreign players come up to me all the time commenting on how bad the coaching is in England and this is from players who’d come from around the world, not just continental Europe.
We’re so far behind in terms of coaching young players how to play the game, it’s a bloody joke. England are in a transition period now where I think the FA have realised we need to change things, but we need to do it quickly!!
You watch; when the World Cup comes around, we’ll be sitting there, seeing the likes of Uruguay, Columbia and Mexico (to name a few) and we’ll be saying “wow, aren’t they exciting to watch”, “don’t they play some nice football”, “how brave are they on the ball?!”. They might not end up winning the tournament, but they play the right way!!
People used to come up to me, semi-joking, asking whether coaches in non-league used to shout “turn ‘em”, “let him know you’re there” and all that rubbish… the sad thing is I had managers in the Premier League that would say the same thing – honestly, it was an absolute joke!!!
I got called up to the England squad by Fabio Capello four times which was an unbelievable experience. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get an England cap and although it was disappointing, I’m not bitter about it – if you ask me, caps shouldn’t be thrown around like confetti and you’ve got to earn the right to play for your country, so the young lads like Loftus-Cheek, Abraham, Maguire and Co. need to really make the most of these experience.
A lot of people have been getting on Danny Drinkwater’s back for not accepting his England call up. Don’t get me wrong, an England call up is something that most boys dream of, but we’ve got to be careful not to slate him. For all we know, he might have all sorts going on in his personal life, he could be struggling to settle in West London with his family, or he simply might just feel that he’s not fit enough to put a performance in which meets those expected for England – we just don’t know, so I’d be wary of giving him stick about that.
The two fixtures coming up will be an unbelievable experience for the young lads. England’s history against Germany speaks for itself: from winning the World Cup at Wembley in ’66, Lampard’s goal that never was, England’s 5-1 win in 2001, Southgate’s penalty miss, and so much more, this is a special fixture and will be a real test for the lads.
As for Brazil, you don’t see them hoofing it up the pitch. I can guarantee you that they’ll be playing it out from the back, and actually, it will be at a slow pace: but when the time is right, they’ll know when and how to speed things up and be clinical on the ball.
Anyway, that’s my England rant over for this week. I’m just like any other fan: I’m so passionate about my country and I’m desperate for us to succeed on the big stage, but if we’re going to, we need to do it properly. I have a lot of confidence in Southgate from what he said during the week and hopefully these young lads can do us proud against Germany and Brazil.
Have a good weekend boys and girls,
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