Charley Pumfrey sets the scene on how to revamp and rebuild the English national side by developing talent.
In the last instalment of this series, the current state of affairs in the English game were set out and critically reviewed. In this instalment, it’s time to create a plan that would get English players the best opportunities to develop and allow for the national team to have the best pool of talent possible.
The overarching points of this plan consist of developing talent, both on the field and the coaches that support that development, whilst creating a clear philosophy for how we play and why we play in a certain way.
The first part of this plan involves tearing down part of the old plan. The Elite Player Performance Plan, in theory, makes sense for English players but only serves to damage those lower league clubs that develop players and that hurts the whole system eventually. So, I would remove it completely, serving to encourage those clubs that have traditionally brought through some of the countries most talented players but operate lower down the footballing pyramid.
My vision for the future of English football includes the FA taking certain elements of the player development system in-house with the creation of an FA Academy. This would give players, those willing to step out of the conventional system, a chance to develop away from the politics of club football. France took this step in 1988 with their Clairefontaine facility that, since its opening, has trained some of the worlds leading French footballers, such as Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and current French star Kylian Mbappe.
The FA already operates St. Georges Park, one of the worlds leading training facilities, and this is the perfect location to house some of England’s future stars. It would have to start with an intake of players at a young age, 13 or 14, before clubs are able to lure those players, and most importantly in most cases their families, with the promise of riches and success.
This proposal would also require the players to be a part of the academy until they were 18 or 19, to make sure that the staff at the academy can create a certain profile of player over a sustained amount of time, this could be paired with loans to clubs both domestically and abroad to enhance a players footballing development.
Another proposal as part of this plan would be to restructure the FA Cup, in time for the significantly enhanced recently signed TV deal to take effect. Some would oppose the FA enforcing yet another regulation on a competition that some of the top tier clubs already hold in low esteem, this could be supported with the promise of better prize money should clubs adhere to a quota on the amount of English players required to be in the matchday squad, in order to give those players a taste of first-team football.
This is only the first part of the three-stage plan for England to follow to encourage a different approach to player development and has to be followed by a new approach to creating a new wave of great English coaches, something that will be outlined in the next instalment of this series.
How would you go about nurturing the next generation of English players? Let me know in the forums your vision for the national game!