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The English Inquisition

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With the inevitable demise of England in yet another tournament I have been, in a n almost sadomasochistic ritual, been sifting through the various opinions on why, yet again, England have failed in the face of pressure.

Some of the common arguments are:

Players aren't good enough - Well I think some are certainly overrated, but they are good players and some have potential to be better, and the players are surely, in terms of technical prowess, on the level of Wales and Iceland. I think we in England are guilty of over estimating them but they are in no way bad players.

Too much too soon - The young players have become so rich and famous that their focus has deserted them and they don't really care about the national side, only the side they collect their pay cheque from. Maybe there is some merit in this, but aren't the other major nations players faced with the same wealth and fame? I think this aspect may form part of the problem but in my opinion not a big part.

Lack of a plan and/ or identity - Alan Shearer has relentlessly been pushing this idea recently and for all Shearers faults it is this reason I think has the most traction. I could tell you how Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil (to a certain extent) play and what their football identity is. Wales have shown a clear method of playing and shape which all the players bu into and are well drilled in and it is working very well, Iceland are similar they have produced a system and identity which the players are fully on board with and understand and again they have found success.

So what is the English way? Let's run a scenario as (I presume) we are all FM players and have some understanding of tactics and systems, albeit perhaps a basic grasp, if you were given the reigns to create England's football identity what do you think that identity would be?

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It was Roy.

No game plan and wrong squad selection.

Taking the top 2 English Premier league scorers and not playing to their strengths, no set piece takers, taking unfit players, changing a winning formula from qualification, happy to sit back and pass it sideways when teams were there for the taking, failure to drop Joe "Cardboard Wrists" Hart for the Slovakia game, which might have actually given him the kick up the arse he needs

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4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 with a direct style of football and proper wingers is how England should be playing (and would have been playing if Harry Redknapp was in charge), I believe 4-4-2 / 4-4-1-1 is what all English players know so is how we should play, even if they do play in different formations with their clubs those two formations suit us.

Before theses Euros began I would have taken the following squad to play the above formations at Euro 2016:

GK's: Hart, Forster, Foster.

Def's: Rose, Baines, Walker, Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Shawcross, Stones.

Mids: Henderson, Alli, Dier, Milner, Townsend, Young, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.

ST's: Rooney, Kane, Vardy.

The above squad gives me plenty of flexibility withing those two formations, defence has cover for every position and all are specialists in those positions whilst the midfield and attack has position specialists who you can rely on but also a number of players who can perform multiple duties.

As for player selection, Shawcross I think is severely underrated and he would partner one of Smalling or Cahill whilst the GK and FB positions would be up for grabs. In midfield, I would partner Henderson with Alli or Milner (depending on the opposition) with Townsend and Walcott on the wings then up front Rooney would sit behind Vardy.

I would have Young and Ox in the squad as I need proper wingers, if any of my main strikers got injured I have Lallana who can play in behind the strikers whilst Walcott can also play up top too.

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4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 with a direct style of football and proper wingers is how England should be playing (and would have been playing if Harry Redknapp was in charge), I believe 4-4-2 / 4-4-1-1 is what all English players know so is how we should play, even if they do play in different formations with their clubs those two formations suit us.

Before theses Euros began I would have taken the following squad to play the above formations at Euro 2016:

GK's: Hart, Forster, Foster.

Def's: Rose, Baines, Walker, Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Shawcross, Stones.

Mids: Henderson, Alli, Dier, Milner, Townsend, Young, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.

ST's: Rooney, Kane, Vardy.

The above squad gives me plenty of flexibility withing those two formations, defence has cover for every position and all are specialists in those positions whilst the midfield and attack has position specialists who you can rely on but also a number of players who can perform multiple duties.

As for player selection, Shawcross I think is severely underrated and he would partner one of Smalling or Cahill whilst the GK and FB positions would be up for grabs. In midfield, I would partner Henderson with Alli or Milner (depending on the opposition) with Townsend and Walcott on the wings then up front Rooney would sit behind Vardy.

I would have Young and Ox in the squad as I need proper wingers, if any of my main strikers got injured I have Lallana who can play in behind the strikers whilst Walcott can also play up top too.

Redknapp was playing a 4-2-3-1 at Spurs...

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It's all been said over and over and over

Premier League transfer are in full flow so everyone can forget it for a couple of years

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It was Roy.

No game plan and wrong squad selection.

Taking the top 2 English Premier league scorers and not playing to their strengths, no set piece takers, taking unfit players, changing a winning formula from qualification, happy to sit back and pass it sideways when teams were there for the taking, failure to drop Joe "Cardboard Wrists" Hart for the Slovakia game, which might have actually given him the kick up the arse he needs

Spot on.

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So just to confirm, this proverbial problem that has plagued England for years is Roy Hodgsons fault? I mean I am not giving him a pass here by he is a part of he problem not the root of the problem. Just my opinion.

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I honestly do believe it is coach selection and culture. We have a decent system we produce talented players generation after generation but the people we pick to manage it all have been wrong for a long time.

Obviously you get the PL filled with foreigners nonsense everytime we go out and you get all the same arguments but remember most of that Wales squad were coached in England and came through the English system the fundamental difference is their culture and setups.

Our squad selection and team for this tournament was just a cluster**** of baffling BS. How do you get a midfielder winning the league and being of of the best statistically and otherwise in Drinkwater not even make the squad over people like Wilshere who played 2 games worth of minutes? Thats just one example of how we are when it comes to football, names and individuals on the pitch over a team.

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So just to confirm, this proverbial problem that has plagued England for years is Roy Hodgsons fault? I mean I am not giving him a pass here by he is a part of he problem not the root of the problem. Just my opinion.

The problem doesn't have to be the same every time. We've had the Gerrard/Lampard problem. The left midfield problem. The injured players problem. The Seaman/Robinson/Carson/Green/Hart problems. This time it was mainly the Roy problem.

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I don't really think there is an English footballing "identity" as such, which you can actually turn into a positive because you can be quite flexible and pragmatic in reaction to the sorts of players you produce.

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So just to confirm, this proverbial problem that has plagued England for years is Roy Hodgsons fault? I mean I am not giving him a pass here by he is a part of he problem not the root of the problem. Just my opinion.

The players are definitely there but if the man in charge couldn't run a bath then you may as well have taken 23 monkeys

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Shearer summed it up last night, the main issue we have is constantly shoehorning in players and taking unfit players to tournaments, that toppled with a weak mentality when things go against us results in disaster.

Has nothing to do with playing minutes, level of football, academy's etc.

Fast majority of us said before tournament, if we are to do well then we have to play 4-1-2-1-2. If Rooney HAS to start every game then he needs to play either up front or behind the striker. Woy picked the squad, and with hardly no wingers it looked like it was going to be this. Was strange Drinkwater wasn't included though, who was fit and inform, yet both Henderson/Wilshere went.

Then came last friendly, and out of no where Woy decided to go, "Sod this formation I'm going to go 4-3-3 and shove as many strikers in I can, despite only one winger who's just come back from injury and not in form". Coupled with Rooney CM who isn't one, slows play down too much which isn't needed against teams that sit deep and things went to pot. Never gave Vardy/Kane a solid couple of games up top together which was baffling, and he's subs outside Wales game were a mess.

We had a great chance this tournament to pick a squad and XI that suited the players that were in form, and we didn't. Just a complete waste. Wanted the **** gone after the World Cup but was criticised because we were "never expected to do well". Well expected to win at least one game ffs. Can't believe he had 3 major tournaments!!

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Stop playing players out of position for a start. Rooney is not a playmaker, Vardy is not a winger. Been doing it for years, trying to shoehorn the best XI players into the team when you should be picking the XI players that suit the system you want to use. We just pick the best XI players and then try to bodge a formation together afterwards. Gerrard and Lampard constantly playing in central midfield when it, quite clearly to everybody, wasn't working. Sticking Scholes out wide on the left.

Paul Scholes should be talked about alongside some of the greatest international midfielders of the modern era but we completely wasted one of the best players of his kind that we've ever had by playing him out of position.

We need to pick a system and a culture that we want to go forward with and then pick the players that fit into that system. If it means leaving some big egos and names on the bench then so be it.

Edit: Ha, took me so long to type that inbetween faffing around on FM that I didn't see Pearcey's very similar assessment :D

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Leicester City laid out the blueprint.....but for some reason Roy decided we needed to play some silly formations (seriously.....striker in midfield and a midfielder upfront.....and when that's not working just put all your forwards on at the same time) and tactics because "that's how you play at international level". Also putting too much faith in unfit and out of form players at the expense of fit and inform players all because "he knows what they can give him".

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As others have said our big problems this tournament were the inept squad selection, stupid last minute change in formation and the absolute shambles with the set pieces, as well as shoehorning players in to the team out of position. It was mental not to take Drinkwater or any wingers, save for Sterling, who was out of form himself. I think Hart, Deli Ali and Kane especially all under-performed too. Hard to say Sterling under performed too much because he wasn't in form to begin with. I don't think Vardy got enough game time either. I also think Welbeck was a massive loss as he did really well in qualifying.

I think the biggest damning of our Euros and Roy himself was that comment he made before the tournament, that was something to the effect of "systems/tactics don't win you football games at tournaments, good footballers do" - that sort of mentality is why we so often under-perform and ultimately ended up losing to ****ing Iceland :D

Some of the reaction has been way OTT though. Some people talking about changing our youth setup, the Premier League ruining everything, a radical need for change etc. We don't need radical change to beat ****ing Iceland. We just need a competent manager who has a clear tactical plan and style of football they want to be played. It would be useful too if they could also: avoid shoehorning in players out of position, actually take a balanced squad to a tournament and avoid sticking a 6ft striker who can't take corners or free-kicks on almost all corners and free-kicks.

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Should probably start by picking the players who played the best during the season and are actually fit going into the summer. You should also always have a Plan B and the players to make it work.

England have failed to do this for nearly every competition I can remember.

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Surely that means you end up trying to create a tactical system to accommodate the perceived best eleven players? This usually means it's a system made up of too many compromises & then hope that the remaining 12 are also a fit that system which seems to be pretty close to the approach that England have taken to failure for a number of decades.

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Unbelievable that after having the season of their lives that Vardy was reduced to brief cameos out of position and Drinkwater was left at home for a player that hadn't played 90 minutes for his club side all season and was coming back after a 10 month lay-off.

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The players obviously have work rate. Hodgson was just a manager who didn't know how to utilise the attacking talents at his disposal. If I am not mistaken he used a diamond during qualifiers and then opted for a hybrid 433 of sorts at Euro.

English players may not have the technical ability, but they have the heart, they just need to find the right leader to stand up and choose the right players, and fit them into a system and OWN it. Hodgson sets a system up and sits in the dugout, chomping away and thinking out how his resignation letter should be worded. The blame lays squarely on the English FA. All England needed was a half decent manager who has qualified by playing FM.

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Unbelievable that after having the season of their lives that Vardy was reduced to brief cameos out of position and Drinkwater was left at home for a player that hadn't played 90 minutes for his club side all season and was coming back after a 10 month lay-off.
This highlights the problem, if one or neither player fits with the manager's system then their club form should be irrelevant to the selection process, they either work in the manager's tactics or they do not & if they don't then they stay at home but the media & fans crucify a manager if they dare take that step.

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This highlights to problem, if one or neither player fits with the manager's system then their club form should be irrelevant to the selection process, they either work in the manager's tactics or they do not & if they don't then they stay at home but the media & fans crucify a manager if they dare take that step.

I don't think that Hodgson even knew what system he was playing. Seemed like hit and miss, stick the best I think there are and do a Looping

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No doubt that Hodgson was lacking a plan other than one that involved carry a bag of good luck charms, my point was more that club form has to be a secondary consideration when selecting a national squad, selecting based on league form as the first criteria is where successive England managers & many other national managers consistently get it wrong.

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Kane would still have taken the corners, Carroll would have been asked to stand outside the area & wait for any weak clearances.

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This highlights the problem, if one or neither player fits with the manager's system then their club form should be irrelevant to the selection process, they either work in the manager's tactics or they do not & if they don't then they stay at home but the media & fans crucify a manager if they dare take that step.

If a manager can't find a system that accommodates players that are so on-form that they've just won the Premier League with Leicester then he shouldn't be an international manager. You have a system yes, doesn't mean you make it so rigid that only 11 specific players fit that system.

This is just one particular example, but Danny Drinkwater just won the Premier League with freaking Leicester ffs and played the season of his life, out-performing almost every other midfielder in the league, and you leave him at home and play Wayne Rooney in midfield and take a completely unfit Jack Wilshere? **** talk of systems , that is just utterly insane.

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Not taking Andy Carroll.

We were crying out for a lump to err lump it to.

Tbf, Kane could have been that lump if he wasn't, for some ridiculously absurd reason, taking the set pieces.

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Surely that means you end up trying to create a tactical system to accommodate the perceived best eleven players? This usually means it's a system made up of too many compromises & then hope that the remaining 12 are also a fit that system which seems to be pretty close to the approach that England have taken to failure for a number of decades.

A manager coming up with a tactical system that works with the best players available to him? What sort of madness is this?

England have a huge amount of players to call from - if they look past the 5 or 6 names that they're always trying to fit in to the team then it'll become a hell of a lot easier to come up with a system that works. That's another of England's problems. Too many good players and a series of managers too weak to make the calls needed.

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England do not have a wealth of good players to call upon, they do not even have much in the way of depth when it comes to players with latter stage experience in continental competitions.

What England need is to reinvent football so that the rest of the world has to play in exactly the same way as they do, if it wasn't for Johnny Foreigner having all these ideas about tactical plans & systems English players & managers would be fine.

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Tbf, Kane could have been that lump if he wasn't, for some ridiculously absurd reason, taking the set pieces.
You don't lump the ball up to the striker on set pieces tbf.

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If a manager can't find a system that accommodates players that are so on-form that they've just won the Premier League with Leicester then he shouldn't be an international manager. You have a system yes, doesn't mean you make it so rigid that only 11 specific players fit that system.

This is just one particular example, but Danny Drinkwater just won the Premier League with freaking Leicester ffs and played the season of his life, out-performing almost every other midfielder in the league, and you leave him at home and play Wayne Rooney in midfield and take a completely unfit Jack Wilshere? **** talk of systems , that is just utterly insane.

It was a strange decision, the way I see it is that Roy didn't think he could select a midfield that would make up for any weaknesses he saw in Drinkwater's game & felt there were other players who could pass with the same precision while not being as weak in other aspects.

No way of telling if he was right or wrong because you can't replay the matches but I'm sure a manager who last studied tactics more recently than the 1990s might have figured out a way, then again they could have still decided that Drinkwater was too limited for their liking or didn't fit with the style they wanted. If all you want is the best league performers to be part of the England setup then be prepared for continual frustration & disappointment should future England managers agree.

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Just seen this on Twitter: England have beaten all four semi finalists in the last 12 months. Ridiculous.

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It was a strange decision, the way I see it is that Roy didn't think he could select a midfield that would make up for any weaknesses he saw in Drinkwater's game & felt there were other players who could pass with the same precision while not being as weak in other aspects.

No way of telling if he was right or wrong because you can't replay the matches but I'm sure a manager who last studied tactics more recently than the 1990s might have figured out a way, then again they could have still decided that Drinkwater was too limited for their liking or didn't fit with the style they wanted. If all you want is the best league performers to be part of the England setup then be prepared for continual frustration & disappointment should future England managers agree.

Whatever the way forwards regarding systems and a new culture is, picking the best league performers would still be a better option than picking players on reputation, which is what we've been doing throughout this era of continuous failure.

And I see what you're saying about Hodgson being wary of Drinkwater's weaknesses, and it's a valid point of view. But, it is completely negated by the fact that he took (and I don't mean to keep flogging a dead horse!) Wilshere instead, a player that had the one gaping chasm of a weakness in that he hadn't been fully fit for damn near 2 years!

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I think the flogged horse might have been a better option that Wilshere.

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I agree that England's main problem was the manager and team selection. He just didn't seem to know how to react to different situations. I remember in the World Cup in 1990, England started that tournament really badly and were lucky to win a game in the group. I remember Bobby Robson bringing Mark Wright in to play in a back 3, instead of the back 4 they had been playing. And everything just clicked into place after that. I think something similar could have happened this time too if Hodgson had been prepared to change things around a bit. As I think the English squad is actually one of the strongest in the tournament. So the problems were more about how the squad was managed than anything else. The manager was just far too cautious, and seemingly unwilling/unable to adapt.

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Poor management, lack of motivation from players, wrong system, wrong players.

England don't have any world class players any more. But because they play in the Premiership and earn a fortune they probably think they are elite players. A reality check is needed and they need proper coaching and playing in a system that suits them. The worst thing you can do as a manager is shoehorn players into your system. Rooney was abysmal against Iceland.

There just aren't enough real quality English players around and this is partly due to the Premiership and its foreign imports and not enough English players are getting game time. I can't see that changing any time soon but if the FA want to do something about it they should try and get the Football League clubs on board and introduce squad and match day rules that provide opportunities for young English players. Maybe something like an U20 English player has to be on the pitch at all times in Championship matches.

You look at the England U21 squad for the Toulon Tournament and it doesn't make very good reading and there isn't an awful lot to get excited about.

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I agree that England's main problem was the manager and team selection. He just didn't seem to know how to react to different situations. I remember in the World Cup in 1990, England started that tournament really badly and were lucky to win a game in the group. I remember Bobby Robson bringing Mark Wright in to play in a back 3, instead of the back 4 they had been playing. And everything just clicked into place after that. I think something similar could have happened this time too if Hodgson had been prepared to change things around a bit. As I think the English squad is actually one of the strongest in the tournament. So the problems were more about how the squad was managed than anything else. The manager was just far too cautious, and seemingly unwilling/unable to adapt.

That'll be the tournament where it took a late moment of improvisation to win against Belgium & being the beneficiaries of some naive defending to win against Cameroon.

Poor management, lack of motivation from players, wrong system, wrong players.

England don't have any world class players any more. But because they play in the Premiership and earn a fortune they probably think they are elite players. A reality check is needed and they need proper coaching and playing in a system that suits them. The worst thing you can do as a manager is shoehorn players into your system. Rooney was abysmal against Iceland.

There just aren't enough real quality English players around and this is partly due to the Premiership and its foreign imports and not enough English players are getting game time. I can't see that changing any time soon but if the FA want to do something about it they should try and get the Football League clubs on board and introduce squad and match day rules that provide opportunities for young English players. Maybe something like an U20 English player has to be on the pitch at all times in Championship matches.

You look at the England U21 squad for the Toulon Tournament and it doesn't make very good reading and there isn't an awful lot to get excited about.

A young player quota rarely works, it certainly hasn't helped the Scottish national team. The FA need to get Premier League clubs to change their entire outlook to developing players & to give young players a chance to learn by making mistakes in the senior team but that will never happen because why allow for young players to make mistakes when you have the money to buy a consistent performer who is in their mid 20s?

I'm sure that Everton would happily buy an experienced centre back from continental Europe to replace John Stones & that the Everton fans & media would forgot about the wasted English talent should that overseas import produce the goods.

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That'll be the tournament where it took a late moment of improvisation to win against Belgium & being the beneficiaries of some naive defending to win against Cameroon.

You're right that England did have some luck in the tournamnent. However Robson did make the tactical change to his line up - during the tornament, by playing Wright as a sweeper. Something that hadn't been tried beforehand. And this brought a much better balance to the team. If it had gone wrong he could have become a laughing stock because the press were exceptionally critical of him at the time. So it was a very brave move in some respects. And showed that he was a good manager. I feel Hodgson was far too cautious and not prepared to risk anything. Which effectively meant that we were never going to do well in this tournament. I do think this England squad is actually pretty good. And we've greatly under achieved largely because of the manager.

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Just seen this on Twitter: England have beaten all four semi finalists in the last 12 months. Ridiculous.

In the player's mind they'll think they were so close to winning the Euros and it still won't drop that they have serious issues

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That'll be the tournament where it took a late moment of improvisation to win against Belgium & being the beneficiaries of some naive defending to win against Cameroon.

A young player quota rarely works, it certainly hasn't helped the Scottish national team. The FA need to get Premier League clubs to change their entire outlook to developing players & to give young players a chance to learn by making mistakes in the senior team but that will never happen because why allow for young players to make mistakes when you have the money to buy a consistent performer who is in their mid 20s?

I'm sure that Everton would happily buy an experienced centre back from continental Europe to replace John Stones & that the Everton fans & media would forgot about the wasted English talent should that overseas import produce the goods.

I don't see why a young player quota wouldn't work. It's not going to happen in the Premiership but in the Championship you would have at least 24 young English players playing in the first team every week. That would do wonders for their development.

Don't know what Scotland has to do with anything as there were never any forced age limits on players except for the U21 players having to be in the match day squad after they increased the number of subs. All it did was have youngsters sat on the bench and rarely getting on. Especially at the bigger teams who had to win every week.

The problem you have is the big Premiership teams are hoovering up all the talent from a young age, paying them daft wages and more often than not they aren't getting much competitive game time when they should be breaking into a first team in League Two at 16/17. This isn't as much as a problem in other countries as they have B-Teams in the lower leagues or relaxed loan rules/club partnerships but there are too many clubs against the idea in England for that to happen when other countries like Portugal and Holland have tried it out in recent years.

It's quite rare that you get players like Dele Alli who had a good couple of seasons playing regularly for MK Dons before moving to the Premiership and getting games. Eric Dier came through the B-Team system at Sporting before progressing to the first team and then getting a move to the Premiership. You look at all the players under 24 in the England squad and their pathway to there and they have all been getting regular football from an early age and it's no co-incidence they are probably thought of as some of the better players in the squad.

John Stones (22) - 1 full season at Barnsley before moving to Everton and playing regularly for 3 seasons. 4 full seasons of experience and development from around 18

Raheem Sterling (21) - 3 full seasons at Liverpool and 1 full season at Man City playing at the highest level from around 17. He's still way overrated though.

Eric Dier (22) - Progressed from Sporting B to first team and played a bit part for a couple of seasons. Moved to Spurs and was a regular for 2 seasons. Playing at a good level from around 17

Jack Wilshere (24) - Been in and around the Arsenal first team since he was 16. Good 7 seasons at a top level. Hasn't kicked on as he should have due to injuries.

Ross Barkley (22) - Been a regular for Everton since he was 18

Dale Alli (20) - Couple of seasons for MK Dons and a regular in the Premiership. In first team since 17.

Harry Kane (22) - Loans to Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester before breaking into Spurs team. 3 full seasons in Prem

Marcus Rashford (18) - Took his chance in Man Utd first team when Van Gaal was blooding youth players all over the place. Something that doesn't happen very often at all.

You look at the current England U21 squad or who have recently been called up and there are players in there who are 20+ who have hardly played any first team football. Has to be concerning.

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What I find interesting from that list is that I do not believe Stones, Barkley, Sterling & Wilshere have significantly improved since they became senior team regulars, all too often British players just seem to plateau once they make the senior team in the top division & I can't see that changing for the better with any sort of U21/U23 match squad quota or the Premier League clubs allowing players to spend too much time at lower league club because the pressure to hover up the best lower league prospects will still be there & might even be increased.

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Of course it will make a difference, how can it not? It won't make a difference tomorrow or this season but it will make a difference. There are no quick fixes. What won't make a difference is changing nothing and expecting different results or shrugging and leave it cause that's what suits the biggest and richest clubs. It's very easy to be negative and not look for solutions cause it requires no action at all

There's not enough competition for some of these senior players, for starters

Of course if they made a sweeping change now they'd be a drop off cause we simply don't have the numbers, it'd have to be gradual but work alongside more coaches as even younger levels too so that in a decade we can see the difference. Imagine if they implemented something about 10 or so years back after one of our many introspections at a tournament exit that ended up with nothing changing.

As you say, it requires the Premier League clubs changing their mindsets, which is something the FA can't force at all, only beg. We will not see any dramatic changes to the national side whilst the Premier League is how it is

We need to at least start changing something. Some kind of quota, even one that is easily met, is a foot on the ladder and then further conversations are about the next rung or the next rung of the ladder. We don't even have a ladder with the Premier League atm

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How many other major nations have a matchday squad/match XI age quota? Germany didn't address their problems by introducing a rule to artificially increase the number of young players getting first team starts & how could you legally prevent a club from fielding youngsters who are not English?

As you & I have both mentioned the only way is for clubs to change their approach & while they have so much guaranteed money simply by participating in the domestic league there is no incentive to change those methods.

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Of course it will make a difference, how can it not? It won't make a difference tomorrow or this season but it will make a difference. There are no quick fixes. What won't make a difference is changing nothing and expecting different results or shrugging and leave it cause that's what suits the biggest and richest clubs. It's very easy to be negative and not look for solutions cause it requires no action at all

There's not enough competition for some of these senior players, for starters

Of course if they made a sweeping change now they'd be a drop off cause we simply don't have the numbers, it'd have to be gradual but work alongside more coaches as even younger levels too so that in a decade we can see the difference. Imagine if they implemented something about 10 or so years back after one of our many introspections at a tournament exit that ended up with nothing changing.

As you say, it requires the Premier League clubs changing their mindsets, which is something the FA can't force at all, only beg. We will not see any dramatic changes to the national side whilst the Premier League is how it is

We need to at least start changing something. Some kind of quota, even one that is easily met, is a foot on the ladder and then further conversations are about the next rung or the next rung of the ladder. We don't even have a ladder with the Premier League atm

Agree with pretty much every word you've said. Excellent post. Particularly the bolded part.

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There were a couple of instances where I'm confident that Shawcross instead of Cahiil or Smalling would've just reacted better as a defender, particularly to the shot that led to Icelands second goal but selfishly from a club perspective I'm glad Hodgson didn't go with a genuine defender coupled with a more "ball playing" defender - even though neither Cahill nor Smalling are particularly great at it either.

The problem was and is one England so often do, push up the pitch, get to the final third and remain largely static there. You don't need to hit and hope with a longer ball game, you need to just keep the ball deep and bring the opposition onto you and then make the runs when they're needed. So much energy was wasted pushing up the pitch quickly just to meet solid defences in the final third in a very congested area. As a Stoke fan I watched Tony Pulis pull this off week in, week out, as teams would dramatically over-estimate their own technical ability compared to the newly promoted Stoke.

We would quite happily let teams pass around the 18 yard box without ever going in it, of course it doesn't always work that way and if you concede then you need to get back into the game but when defending a lead the best thing is to let the oppositions own over-confidence play to your strength. But in plenty of instances it did work, it got Stoke mid-table/lower half after mid-table/lower half finish under Pulis.

You need space to attack if you're going to do it in any meaningful way, England would've been far better letting the games become dour and putting the onus on the opposition to actually come forward to close them down rather than just trying to pin them back. But to me the England team is perfectly set up for counter attacking football with the pace available. We were negating our greatest asset on the hopes that Rooney and Wilshere had become Xavi and Iniesta circa 2010.

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The ability of Wilshere, Rooney & Henderson to kill the pace of attacking play was telling throughout the tournament, just before Rooney came on in the Slovakia match England had a massive overload counter that was killed as soon as the ball found its way into central midfield, iirc it was Wilshere who just stood on the ball looking for a pass sideways or backwards when there were at least three players on the move & ready to attack acres of space behind Slovakia's almost non- existent defensive line.

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How many other major nations have a matchday squad/match XI age quota? Germany didn't address their problems by introducing a rule to artificially increase the number of young players getting first team starts & how could you legally prevent a club from fielding youngsters who are not English?

As you & I have both mentioned the only way is for clubs to change their approach & while they have so much guaranteed money simply by participating in the domestic league there is no incentive to change those methods.

Introducing a rule that requires a young English player be on the pitch at all times doesn't come with any legal issues. There is nothing stopping clubs having players from elsewhere and playing them if they want to.

Looking at what the Germans done. Over 12 years they built 52 centres of excellence for the most promising young talents to attend. Had 366 regional coaching bases where 1300 professional full-time coaches teach the young players the basics. Apparently it cost €48M per year and the cost has more than doubled since 2002. Money was spent educating coaches from top to bottom.

The German FA and Bundesliga worked together and created their club licensing programme which had various criteria which had to be met or clubs would be demoted. As well as financial regulations each club had to "build or maintain a centre of excellence and had to nurture talent". The criteria went as far as specifying how many players eligible for a German youth team had to be in squads, how many coaches and physios a club had to employ and how clubs interacted with local schools.

If something similar is going to happen in England then the Premier League clubs need to be on board. They have the finances to do it but as can be expected they will be looking after their own interests first and producing players for the England national team is probably low on their agenda if it's on it at all.

You look at Iceland who invested a lot in football and now every school has a pitch and they have regional indoor centres which are available to anyone. Educating coaches as well and you've got facilities for young players and trained people teaching them so standards are always likely to improve. It's not rocket science but the hard part is getting everyone pulling in the same direction and maybe giving up some cash to help make it happen.

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Introducing a rule that requires a young English player be on the pitch at all times doesn't come with any legal issues
It does for the next few years at least.

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