Bringing you the art and times of Twisted & Tainted.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On? I hope not.

Pele once said Joe Cole would be the only player able to get into the Brazil team, and after days like today, you can see why.

England were uninspired. They did a lot of running around with nothing to show for it. I have seen pundits speculate about the reasons why England were so terrible today, claiming the formation is wrong, the players might be feeling the pressure, and even hinting at a problem with Capello. These are all short-sighted glitches for what is a long term problem.

The problem lies with our football culture and what values we instil in our young players coming through. Players are brought up to be powerful runners, disciplined at the back and hard in the tackle (in both senses, judging by our tabloids). It is not surprising when we come up against similarly well drilled teams like Algeria, we stumble.

Obviously, we have players like Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney to give the graft some sparkle. However, these players are surrounded by foreign talent at their respective clubs; talented players who have been brought up with different values, such as an emphasis on technique, movement off the ball, and a temperament enriched by their often harsh life experiences.

These values don’t seem to be imparted onto the majority of English players, with many following an orthodox route into the game in this modern era.

This is why managers like Wenger look elsewhere for talented young players; he has his values and he does not see these values being cultivated in English football. Everybody praises the technical ability of players like Fabregas, Messi, and Ronaldo, and it is no secret why: they make things happen without fear.

Nothing happened tonight and it wasn’t because of wrong tactics. For years we build up for these “nearly moments” when power isn’t enough. We need guile and creativity, and for our players to embrace these characteristics, our coaches must engender them and reprioritise the taught skill set.

English fans are taken by the fancy displays they see in the Champions League and the English Premier League, with teams like Barcelona stringing fifty passes together before a perfect and lethal shot on goal. These kinds of displays, and those made by other less recognised teams in South America for example, are a symptom of their culture and coaching style.

I hesitate to criticise the England team because they are essentially expected to play in a collective style uncharacteristic to them by their spoilt fans. English players are almost always based in England throughout their career, which adds to the linear training and exposure they receive in the major learning period of their career. Sometimes that works, as seen with Italy, but one cant praise the Italians for their fearlessness and flair.

Some thinking outside of the box (excuse the pun) is needed if our presumed game plan of winning 1-0 isn’t enough.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, but its time English fans, coaches, players and ex-players were honest with what is going on and realise the English team is doing OK for what it is – a solid team with no surprises.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Unknown Enemy, Unknown Friends.

Here is the completed sketch, finally. And yes, I am aware the little guy looks like he has sausages coming out of his face. I assure you its just an elaborately braided beard.

Unknown Enemy, Unknown Friends