Now call me a cynic or Scrooge, but in preparation for this weekend’s
However, this weekend’s performance was one of the most encouraging in recent memory, albeit against a surprisingly poor
Is that it though, problems all solved? Or will we once more paper over the cracks, fluke past
In the long term, I honestly believe it is best for the
We need a manager who isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers in his team selection, and pick players based on their actual form rather than just reputation. This problem of having the club managers, the FA and the press dictate who plays and who doesn’t has gone on far too long, leading to a relatively uninspired squad whose passion is in question. We need players who want to play for their country, and not just see it as a distraction from club football. Perhaps to restore some much needed pride in the shirt we should remove the pay for international appearances?
Furthermore, something needs to be done in bridging the gap between the always impressive Under-21s side and the full International team. Surely we should be looking forward, perhaps 3 years ahead to the World Cup, or even 5 years ahead to the next European Championships. We have an excellent pool of young English players at the moment, yet instead of drafting some of this talent into the full squad now, and getting them used to playing together for the country, we seem to insist of recalling former players instead…Beckham, Heskey, DJ, Big Sol etc.
If we look to the Dutch national team, I admire their approach under Marco van Basten. Having failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, van Basten took charge and famously dropped regulars such as Seedorf, Kluivert, Davids, Makaay and Mark van Bommel, because he believed that they were either past their prime or constantly underachieving. Now he has a young squad, used to all playing together and you can put a monkey on them being there or thereabouts in both major competitions in the next three years.