Monthly Archives: May 2012
A lot has been spoken, written and tweeted about this week, as to how terrible Ukraine and Poland will be as an experience for fans, how racism, violence and – heaven forbid – high hotel prices have caused English football fans to stay away from this summer’s European Championships.
I have another theory: England are shit, and the fans – often credited with the collective intelligence and fickle memories of a bunch of hungry toddlers – simply haven’t forgotten this time.
We’ve been shit since 1996 (when we weren’t shit, but we still lost). Just six years prior in 1990 came our high (when we were shit, then we weren’t shit, then we were just about shit again, but only at penalties), with some particularly shit years in ’92 and ’94. Before that we were pretty shit all the way back to 1966. We had a particularly high level of shitness – even by our own high standards – in the ‘70s.
In the run up to the European Championships and with the naming of a new manager and his squad dominating the news agenda, the FA have been quietly treading a route of reinvigoration. A path that will hopefully at long last, put paid to decades of underachievement.
This summer will see the completion of the FA’s new national football centre (NFC) at St George’s Park. Heralded as England’s answer to France’s famed Clairefontaine academy, there will now be a centre of excellence for our national game, not seen but desperately needed, since the demise of Lilleshall in 1999. As top clubs created their own academies to train young players, Lilleshall became redundant, with the task they performed so admirably in bringing through the likes of Joe Cole, Michael Owen and Scott Parker to name but a few, being taken in house by professional clubs. With the enormous resources of the Premier League era clubs, the training of top young players could scarcely be improved upon by a Lilleshall replacement and the NFC seems primed to address this, by investing far more time and resources, into the development of young, skilled English coaches.