Well they need to do something. Obviously, it is time for outside the box thinking.
I’m being just a little facetious but I figure England has an Australian Rugby Union coach (which is going swimmingly), an Australian Rugby League coach (which has the potential to work) and an Australian Cricket coach (jury is still out on that one) and the English Football team hasn’t won a major competition in over 50 years. In that time, they’ve had an Italian manager, a Swedish manager and 16 English managers.
I see little downside in moving to an Aussie.
Why haven’t they won again?
In my life, I’ve read just about every reason why the English National side can’t secure the World Cup or the European Championship. They seem to roughly fall into the following categories:
- Traditional or conservative style of play
- Lack of local depth because of the recruitment strategies of EPL clubs
- Important competitions are always overseas
- Rubbish at penalty shootouts
- Lack of confidence.
I think the first three issues can be dealt with quickly.
Firstly, the English, while tending to play a more traditional and conservative style of play haven’t always stuck to this tried and true formula mixing it up in many tournaments. Plus, I wouldn’t say that their style of play has always been their downfall. Playing a conservative style because you’re afraid of losing can also qualify as a lack of confidence.
Secondly, the recruitment strategies of EPL clubs, while having an impact on player depth isn’t a crucial factor when you think about it. Firstly, the cream always rises, so there’s that. Plus, English players can always try their hand in Europe, which many have done. I’m not saying it hasn’t had an impact but I’m saying it isn’t the primary reason for the lack of success.
Thirdly, everyone must play overseas so England isn’t on their lonesome. Also, out of the 20 World Cups held, the host has only won 6 times. I think being the host helps but if you are good enough you will win the World Cup. There aren’t many huge upsets. The best teams generally make it to the final.
I think point 4 is a subset of point 5 so I’ll cover it together. If I look at the English Football teams complete body of work (and I’ve been watching since 1982), confidence is definitely the major issue. You can often tell who will win a penalty shoot-out from their body language. English body language in penalty shoot-outs is always terrible. I always think when the team plays that they are afraid to lose rather than trying to win. When they’ve done really well it is always because of an irrational burst of confidence, often from a superstar (AKA Gazza).
Why an Aussie?
Having grown up playing mainly League, Union and Cricket with a little bit of Football sprinkled in and a lifetime of watching sport, I can say without a doubt that playing sport in Australia breeds a certain innate toughness, confidence and desire to win (sometimes at all costs AKA sledging and other forms of mental disintegration). From a very early age we are taught to play as hard as possible, whether our team is good or bad, no matter the opposition. We are an aggressive sporting nation and our national teams reflect this. Even when our teams aren’t as skilled as the team we are playing we still believe we have a puncher’s chance. Confidence is our forte even if often misplaced. The other thing is that the weather is awesome and we are outdoors almost 365 days a year, something the Brits can’t really claim.
Consequently, our coaches, even if not as strategically superior, never lack for instilling confidence in their teams and we like to attack. Not always but generally this is the case.
These are gross generalisations but seem to have held true over the years.
On one hand, you have a national team with a seemingly institutionalised lack of confidence. On the other hand, you have a nation that rarely lacks confidence, an ability to punch above its weight and a general demeanour of always belonging, even if we don’t.
It sounds like a sensible solution to me.
Next exciting episode will be on Monday, 6 February 2017 titled ‘Big Bash League – The Revolution Cricket Desperately Needed’.