Wednesday, April 09, 2008

All-English Final - Sweet F.A

Yesterday was the first night of the quarter-finals of the European Cup, or as it is now rebranded the Champions League. Even though, the old name seems to encapsulate the reality of the participants better than the new one. However that is a different path and the purpose of this posting is once more to hammer on the bolted door of the F.A.’s insane reasoning. Last night 3 English teams played, and can you guess how many players participated? Go on, it’s easy take 60 (4x15 names on the team sheet) and then subtract 8 because that is the sum total of English involvement, eight from sixty! Further add on the number of English coaches involved in this years’ competition - zero, and no wonder we didn’t qualify for Euro 2008.

There were seven Turks from only one Turkish team - half the night’s squad, eight from France even though there are no French sides left – five from Arsenal alone, or a third of their players and once more even though the only Spanish team plays tonight, there was still four players that can don the red national jersey.

It is a ludicrous situation that England continues to not grasp. The F.A. outs more into winning the right to host the world cup than grooming the players to actually win one! Wembley stadium accepts plaudits for its design, but not location, whilst the proposed English National School of Excellence remains nothing more than a fantasy on paper.

We are turning into Scotland, a third-rate international nation who are happy to accept qualification as the limit of their ambition, albeit that at the moment that is even beyond England. England have systematically failed, since well forever, so surely, even the most money-driven myopic Premier League accountant and smug big four fan must get that the current status does nothing for the advancement of the game. To continue to beat the drum about the genius of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, or the Champions League knack of Rafa Benetiz only helps to further drown what’s left of the national team. When a manager of an English team has more Ivoirians playing than English, something is rotten.

The top teams argue that they have to purchase from abroad because the skills are lacking amongst young English players, really? Well that is not helped when the big clubs recruit 16 year olds from just about anywhere, to join their academies. Combined with the laughable leadership from the Premier League (who continue to allow patently dangerous purchases by suspect businessmen, politicians and arms-dealers) and the ineptitude of the F.A. to control its out of control offspring, no wonder we have reached the nadir of not having two decent English strikers.

What seems to be forgotten in all of the back-slapping of a possible all English Champions League final, is viewing figures for big European nights or indeed league games are time and again thumped by numbers watching England struggle in European / World Championships. Doesn’t that give the game away the F.A.? More people regularly watch an uncompetitive England than excellent domestic teams, what does that indicate? Go on, it really is an easy answer…but please let’s get away from this notion of an all-English final, because it isn’t and until changes, real changes not cosmetic ones, are made an all-English final is nothing but a grossly mis-leading advertisement.

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