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The Jamie Forrester Column: Is Fabio Capello to Blame for England Failures?

We welcome aboard the good ship COS the former Leeds and Scunthorpe United striker Jamie Forrester who will be giving us his thoughts on the Beautiful Game.

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Another occasion passes where we see England second best. This time it was the French who had our number. Although the score line looks close I believe that there was quite a large gulf between the two sides. We even finished the game stronger in the last twenty minutes or so which could delude us in to thinking that we are not that far away. For me, we were outclassed on our own turf by a country that has had more recent problems than us. Their own World Cup showing was worse than ours, they have had to discipline many of their players, have a new manager too. All the excuses are there for the French if they want them.

As always, the manager takes all of the blame almost single headedly. I think that you must look beyond the criticism that Capello receives and look at the bigger picture when we see our national team failing as it does, and maybe this is the time to be doing so. We weren’t just beaten at home to France. I think that they were comfortable for the majority of the match, in second or third gear even. They kept the ball for long spells and closed us high up the pitch. We never manage to do this often enough or well enough against the top teams in the world.

As it was a friendly I think Capello was correct to give opportunities to some of our youngsters. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t expect to win every match but not risk blooding new players when the time arises. Although nobody covered themselves in glory it would be wrong to judge the debutants on this one appearance.

For me far too much is expected of our national football team. As a nation we almost feel that it is our right to win World Cups and European Championships. I am really not sure why that is. Apart from 1966 and 1990 we have never really threatened. So why do we believe that we will now? This expectation certainly has a negative response to those that play. Body language suggests that they don’t feel completely comfortable in an England shirt.

Now we have a decreasing pool to choose from. This is only going to get smaller as the amount of foreign players here shows no signs of letting up. Even the youth teams of the top clubs are full of foreign players these days.

Technically and tactically we lack the top teams too. This is not Capello’s fault, nor the current players. We need to make our youngsters more technically and tactically aware from a younger age. I have coached young players and have seen it first hand. The majority of kids just want to play a match. They are not interested in actually learning how to play. They just want to play. For me this is where one of the biggest factors in our decline as a top footballing nation lies. I’m not blaming children for any of our failures but the mentality that surrounds playing football at an early age. We need to install a new mentality that young players want to be educated on the finer points of the game. It happens abroad. I have done it myself whilst a player at AJ Auxerre at age 16. We had weekly tactical lessons in the classroom. I also saw it in Holland at FC Utrecht. Those players always know the weaknesses of the opposition system for example, where the spare man is and how to use him.

So how can we change it? I believe that we need ex players within the game promoting this type of mentality. That would be a start anyway. It is such a big job that it wont be done overnight and I do not have all of the answers.

Hopefully The FA will at least do something.

You can read more from Jamie on his insightful blog by CLICKING HERE


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