Untold’s 2010 analysis of what makes countries successful at football gets another airing in the national press – but sadly it is far too late.
By Billy “the dog” McGraw
Untold doesn’t cover England matches normally – indeed I can’t think when the last time was that we did. But when an England team has five Tottenham players in it, it is perhaps more of a domestic match, and one that we should look at a little.
Of course whenever we do cover anything Tottenhamish a number of Tottenham supporters come on and tell us to focus on our own team more. There’s a couple of guys who usually pop up and say that we are “fixated” with Tottenham. I am not sure that is quite the right word. “Amused” perhaps, but not “fixated”. (And following Blacksheep’s piece earlier this summer, absolutely no hatred or even dislike. Not at all).
According to the press before the game England were playing Croydon, Or maybe Lewisham; there were lots of comparisons. Meanwhile there were always a few fans to keep the press occupied as they waited for victory as the Telegraph told us in the build up…
Drunk Englishman breaks into French policeman’s house … and gets pepper-sprayed and arrested
Well yes, I can see how that is news.
And there is the grand sense of entitlement that Tottenham and England seem to share. A belief wrapped up in that saying that they have painted on the Tottenham grandstand. “To dare is to do”. Or something like that. Maybe that is what the Tottenham-England axis was up to last night.
I was glad that this morning the Guardian commented on the fact that “England’s scouting staff had punched the air when Iceland scored at the end against Austria, ensuring England would be their next opponents. Shades here of poor old Graham Taylor against Norway (“the Norwegian players are in awe of Gascoigne”) and that familiar dunderheaded sense of unearned superiority.”
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Just as Tony Adams scoring is accompanied in pre-match affairs at the Arsene Wenger Stadium with the soundtrack, “That sums it all up” so that phrase “unearned superiority” sums up England. Celebrating because the draw with a country the size of Coventry is really not a very clever thing to do. It’s a bit like Tottenham celebrating finishing above Arsenal in the league when there is one game still to go.
Nor was the fact that Hodgson and Ray Lewington skipped the chance to watch Iceland play by going sight seeing. Roy Hodgson’s boat trip. Steve McClaren’s umbrella. It was ever thus.
It is not so much a case of “where do they get these people from?” as a case that no England manager is sane. Because no sane man would ever, ever, take the job of England manager.
Unlike many people in England, the people in Iceland however do tend to get things right. When a dubious Icelandic bank that had been paying interest rates way over the odds went bust, they refused to pay back the people from around the world who started crying about their lost investment. Their view was “you knew we were not in the European Union, therefore there was no guarantee of your funds.”
When Gordon Brown as PM signed the documentation that labelled Iceland a terrorist state because of this, (an order that I think is still in place making it technically illegal for any UK citizen to go to Iceland) they just shrugged and got on with it. When their government of Geir Haarde suggested they should start bailing out the bank with public funds, the public surrounded the Prime Minister’s house and humiliated him into resignation. When the Panama Papers came out 10% of the entire population demonstrated and the nation forced the implicated Prime Minister to resign.
Iceland does stuff. It has the highest percentage of published authors per head of population of any country in the world. It used to have Thursdays as a no TV day. Same with July – a no TV month. It is a country that makes people think.
And there is one thing that links it to Untold. When we have highlighted the fact that the success of international teams is down to the youth coaching arrangements we have noted Iceland as the great example.
In fact Untold often refers to Iceland – you might recall the piece in November last year, which in turn has a link back to the original 2010 research about how coaching arrangements affect national team performance. That 2010 research was re-run by the Daily Telegraph at the start of September 2013. Now it is on public view again (see below).
Iceland is indeed a most interesting country. They use to survive by exporting fish (Britain sent gun boats to Iceland during the Cod Wars – a long series of warlike disputes which Britain lost hands down each and every time). Then they moved into banking. Now they are taking over the world’s production of aluminium. Not bad for a country with a population the size of Leicester.
On the other hand just as Britain’s economic prosperity is now based on the fact that we don’t need Europe, so England’s football tactics are built on Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army who endlessly reports that “They don’t like it up ’em”.
And that’s it. Iceland would sit back. We’d attack and score. But Iceland didn’t and so England fell apart. Iceland have watched English football on TV for years, noting our old coach and manager Don Howe who had players practising the old long throw or corner to the near post, flick on, and score. So now Iceland does it. England is shocked. Oh dear.
And then there were the Tottenham players. The magnificent wonderful Harry Kane – was he actually booed? How extraordinary!
But the most wonderful moment for all the team at Untold is this. On 8 June Barnay Roney wrote
Currently this nation of 335,000 has around 600 qualified coaches, 400 with Uefa B licences, or one per 825 people. To put this into context, in England this number falls to one per 11,000.
Straight out of Untold. Today on their website they have Barnay Ronay again saying
Iceland has one Uefa B licence coach for every 825th member of the population. In England that number rises to one per 11,000. At times you wonder if the English really are interested in being good at this.
In the Untold article of November 18 2015 we said this
“Iceland is a remarkable case in that it seems to be packed with people who have the coaching badges. Nearly 60 people in every thousand have an A licence as opposed to two in every thousand in England.”
|Fifa world ranking||31||9||2||1|
|A licence coaches||196||59.57||1178||2.22||5633||6.98||773||6.9|
|Pro licence coaches||13||3.95||203||0.38||1304||1.61||120||1.09|
Well, we got there first. Not for the first time. OK we were analysing different coaching badges this time, but the idea is exactly the same.
So what did the BBC make of it all, and particularly the Tottenham players
Kyle Walker (right-back) 4/10 TTTENHAM
His worst night of what had been a good tournament. Recalled but was caught out for first goal and wasted any attacking positions.
Danny Rose (left-back) 4/10 TOTTENAHM
No shortage of effort but still looks short of international class.
Eric Dier (midfield) 4/10 TOTENHM
Had a good tournament and one of just four players to start all four games, but was way off the pace on Monday. Taken off at half-time but will come again.
Dele Alli (midfield) 4/10 TOTTNAHM
Struggled to make any sort of impact on this game – and indeed Euro 2016.
Harry Kane (forward) 4/10 OTTENHAM
Complete nightmare. Missed a good headed chance in the second half and took a collection of the worst free-kicks and set-pieces seen at this level.
And to complete the picture, the Arsenal player
Jack Wilshere (for Dier 45 minutes) 4/10
Nowhere near fit enough to be taken to this tournament and could not put his imprint on the game.
And the man who is reputed to have said no to Arsenal.
Jamie Vardy (for Sterling 59 minutes) 4/10
Plenty of pace and energy but by then the game’s pattern was set.
And one that I rather like.
Marcus Rashford (for Rooney 86 minutes) No rating
Almost a contender for England’s man of the match with his running and endeavour…in his four minutes.
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- Untold Arsenal offers a total, absolute and unreserved apology
28 June 1950. The USA beats England 1-0. It was supposed to be the shock of all time. Clearly they hadn’t imagined a result against Iceland.
(“And elsewhere” appears near the foot of the home page each day.)