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Football in England: something seems to have gone terribly wrong

By Tony Attwood

The German Football League has a motto: “Football, as it should be.”   In its publicity materials it talks about the league being stable, reasonable and innovative.

And in many ways the German footballing authorities have a very good reason for feeling rather pleased with themselves.   By investing properly at grass roots level, rather than pretending, as the Football Association has done, football in Germany flourishes.   They have vastly more qualified coaches per thousand players than we do in England, and the clubs are much more centred on earning money from the game and reinvesting it in the game, than English clubs are.

What’s more most of them really are clubs in the normal sense of the word – an organisation in which everyone who is involved is a member in a meaningful way.

It was when I did the research into why some countries seemed to do so much better than others in international football (irrespective of the size of the country) that I began to understand the magnitude of what Germany has done.   Germany has nearly 35,000 registered qualified coaches.  Only Spain has more.   England has under 3,000.   And no, I have not missed a zero off the end of that.  It is 3,000.

It was Untold that first pointed out just how awful England is at coaching players in our 2010 article and we suggested that it was this mega shortage of coaches that stopped England doing better in internationals.

Many other publications have taken up the theme since (although sadly they choose not to credit our work – but then that’s journalism).  This is one of the better pieces that evolves the same idea – it came from 2016.

There is also a difference in Germany in terms of young players being given more of a chance, early in their career.  It is something we often moan about in England, and it is noticeable that there is a growing tendency to send young players from England to Germany rather than to another English club.

Of course that means that the Championship clubs are losing out – but that is their own fault.  It also means, as our original 2010 article pointed out, more home grown players come through.  They don’t need artificial rules in Germany to keep the number of German players high.  It happens because they have so many coaches.

What else do they do?   They focus on technique.  Why did Serge Gnabry not get any games when he went on loan to West Brom?  It was because they thought he was too small!   The English fixation with the big player, putting himself about, letting the opposition know that he is there is still dominant in many areas of our game.    The Germans just laugh at that.

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They also tend to shy away from the billionaire owners that we see in England, including sadly at Arsenal.  It is almost as if the Germans noticed what Henry Norris tried to do between 1910 and 1927 when he was Arsenal chairman, in attempting to create a club owned by its fans.  Of course when the Hill-Wood family forced Norris out in 1927 that all went out the window.  That family had their previous club (Glossop North End – who were a league club) sink without trace because it wasn’t big enough for their desires.   That’s what happens when you let mega families run concerns like football clubs.

So the Hill Wood clan moved to kick out Norris and have their own ready-made empire.   But that sort of thing could not happen in Germany, where all but two of the top league clubs are owned by the members.

Meanwhile in England we have a mess.  Games are moved around almost at a moment’s notice at the whim of the TV companies ending up with matches at ludicrous times and virtually no public transport on offer on some occasions.   Women’s games seem to be suffering particularly in this regard.

We also have the ultra-secretive PGMO which the wealthy owners seem to like, and whose utter secrecy they support.   The organisation that gave us VAR a year late, but with a twist that means those of us in the stadium have no idea what is going on… meaning of course we can’t see when a really bad decision is made and justified by VAR.

And when it comes down to it, we also now seem to have football that exists for the media (with their special entrance and special seating area that uses up the spaces that about 2000 fans could occupy if the media desks were not there), not for those of us paying to get into the ground.

And of course we have football with eternal financial crises, with eternally moaning fans, with growing racism, with rumours rather than facts…

Perhaps the best phrase to consider when thinking about football in England is “Something seems to have gone terribly wrong.”

8 comments to Football in England: something seems to have gone terribly wrong

  • MickHazel

    And yet we are still told that the Premier League ‘brand’ is the best in the world.
    The fact that it is described as a ‘brand’ and marketed as such tells us all we need to know about how football in the UK is now perceived.

  • Gord

    Looking for news about football this morning, keeping this article in mind, I found an article (a blog about Pink?) which had the other Neville interviewing the owners of Norwich. And for them, a big problem with football (not just restricted to the EPL) was how much everything revolves around money.

    I also ran across a story about someone who has been coaching football in a very disadvantaged part of South Africa for 12 years. Children. I think he had something under 100 players involved across a few age groups, and I think 10-20 of them wee girls (rest boys). In order to belong to club, the player had to be in school. The word “photoessay” was part of the article if you wanted to find it. I was thinking if I should point it out, but nowhere in the article does it mention anything about the qualifications this coach may or may not have.

    And a third article was I think something from “TribalFootball”, talking about the manager of Sheffield United being dismayed about VAR.

    It bothered me yesterday, that the commentary of the game could just erase (or delete) an entry about a goal. All because of VAR. The commentary should be a record of the game. But the record is flawed, because it is being edited. Don’t erase the goal, strike a line through the comment. But this isn’t the only editing which is going on. It used to be that there was a record of how many times players needed treatment, and it was “only” the serious situations that were mentioned in commentary. Today, most commentaries on the Internet never mention any treatments. Just like they almost never mention the mistakes of the officials. Well, they mention some mistakes now because VAR is having teething problems. But if VAR survives a year or two, the word will be passed down from on high, “Thou Shalt Not Comment on the VAR”.

    It’s wrong.

    A blurb or two about Aubameyang having an accident with his car after the game. Could be real, could be fabricated. I didn’t read them, just seen the headline. I hope he isn’t hurt.

  • Les Williams

    I remember reading somewhere that the RFEF in Spain subsidise coaches who want to get their UEFA badge so that it only costs about £700 whereas, you guessed it, the FA dont therefore upping the cost to over £5000 pound to get the badge. Maybe that is the reason why we only have 3000 fully qualified coaches!

    How right you are when you say that “Something seems to have gone terribly wrong.”

    @MickHazel You are spot on the Premier League is just a brand like McDonalds for instance.

  • Mikey

    OT

    Brighton getting a card for every 2.5 fouls. It looks like Riley has given his orders again.

  • Mandy Dodd

    We now know who this years annointed are, as if it was even in doubt.
    Perhaps one day , a decision will go against Liverpool, and boy will we hear about it!
    VAR hasn’t improved things, the way it is worked here seems to have emboldened Riley and his minions.

  • Menace

    If ever proof were needed – You cannot win on a sloping pitch!!

  • Menace

    With master cheat Dean as 4th official and Oliver doing Rileys bidding it is quite obvious who are smoking the good stuff.

  • Gord

    I would guess that this season will provide another element in 😈 Mike Riley’s bucket list. At the conclusion to this season Arsenal will no longer the only team to go a season without defeat.

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