How to solve a problem like England? – Setting the scene

Charley Pumfrey sets the scene on how to revamp and rebuild the English national side.

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This series of articles will be my views on what should be done to encourage the national team to fulfil it’s obvious potential, especially with the success at youth level. All the options I will provide will be purely opinion and hypothetical, so no guarantee it would work in practise.

For many years, the England national football team has been a constant source of hope and eventual disappointment for all involved. The FA have attempted to rectify that with a variety of solutions, from hiring international coaching staff to building one of the worlds highest quality training facilities at St. George’s Park.

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To this point, the national team has failed to deliver any recognisable progress, and even though some of these solutions will take longer to take effect, it could certainly be said that more could be done to make the English national football team into one of the elites of world football.

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So how would I do that? How do you solve a mystery that has confounded a nation for over 50 years?

The FA has been instrumental in creating a format for club development of young footballers. This has been done through the Elite Player Performance Plan, which brought a tiered system for the quality of training facilities and the contact time with young players. This is meant to keep control of the production of talent for the national squad.

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Another attempt to encourage more opportunities for young players has been the homegrown player quota, endorsed and enforced by the Premier League before the 2010-11 season. This meant that in a Premier League club’s 25 man squad, at least 8 had to be homegrown in English football, a loophole that meant players such as Cesc Fabregas and Wojciech Szczesney, foreign internationals, were deemed to have the same status as English players.

In summary, the plan in place currently deals with making sure English players are developed correctly and then given appropriate time to establish themselves in a top tier club. This works in theory but in practise it has only driven transfer fees for English players and put larger pressure on them to succeed. This isn’t a healthy system and could lead to just as many failures as successes, for every John Stones there is an Andy Carroll.

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This series of articles will be my views on what should be done to encourage the national team to fulfil it’s obvious potential, especially with the success at youth level. All the options I will provide will be purely opinion and hypothetical, so no guarantee it would work in practise.

Make sure you let me know in the forums what you think should be done to improve England’s chances at future major international tournaments.

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