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Time for French lessons
And so the “historic victory” over Germany came to be seen for what it was: a battle between two wounded and worn-out tigers, in which the winner was the one with the most teeth left in its head.
When confronted in their other matches by sides full of youth, vigour, ideas and purpose, England were exposed as the no-hopers they truly are. Only in the decrepit Germans did they find an opponent whose powers were even more thoroughly atrophied.
Well, the rebuilding had better start here, buy canada goose parka cheap although whether England have the planners and engineers required to carry out the job is another matter. Kevin Keegan will continue to lead the squad into the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup and the nation can only hope that he and his employers have learnt the hard and painfully obvious lessons of the last few days.
Although England’s football community will briefly echo with self-criticism and mutual recrimination, the real enemy is the much deeper sense of self-satisfaction. Wembley will be full for the Charity Shield, BSkyB will run its vainglorious trailers in the countdown to the Premiership kick-off, and all will be well once again the soi-disant “greatest league in the world”. Vast salaries will continue to be paid from the proceeds can you wash a canada goose coat of ludicrously inflated television contracts, the marketing men will fill the hospitality boxes, and the cheap perfume of all-round prosperity will once again disguise the stench arising from the rotting fibres of the national game.
That game is embodied in its players, which is to say its ever-diminishing number of English players, and particularly the young ones. The foreign stars are welcome guests, but they are not English football. Thanks to the cultural irresponsibility of men like Ken Bates of Chelsea and David Dein of Arsenal, the presence of so many foreign footballers has turned the Premiership into a circus, a gaudy entertainment far removed not only from its own roots but even from the formative environments of those newcomers who are arriving almost daily in the great footballing transmigration.
In a fascinating and provocative interview with L’Equipe this week Arsne Wenger spoke of how, after growing up as a French football fan in Alsace, just across the border from Germany, he still has to pinch himself to make sure he is not dreaming when he amazon canada goose parka realises that the old inferiority complex has been consigned to history.
“In Germany,” he said, “five million people are licensed to play, but they have no players. Five million people playing football, and they still have to pick a 39-year-old. So you can see the problem right best canada goose jacket there.”
French football, he said, is now “five to 10 years ahead” of the canada goose coat 1000 calorie bariatric diet rest of the world, thanks to a carefully planned and rigorously controlled programme of national selection and coaching, in which the national federation not only forced professional clubs to create what we know as centres of excellence but also set up residential schools of their own – principally the famous institute at Clairfontaine, from which Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka emerged.
Henry and Anelka are the children of immigrants, brought up in the suburbs of Paris. Wenger, who has managed both men at club level, certainly had them in mind when he spoke – in terms that few would dare to use in England – of the special value of players drawn from canada goose coat – hybridge lite France’s black minorities. Since the World Cup triumph of 1998 the team’s ethnic variety has been used as a symbol of a new and more enlightened version of Frenchness, but symbolism was not what was on Wenger’s mind. His point was about their value as athletes.
“The make-up of the national team benefits from the variety of ethnic origins of the players sale,” he said. “For example, our black players have special qualities. I think black best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest sportsmen have a certain advantage, and in football it shows itself in an explosive speed. You can’t contradict that when you look at Anelka, Henry and [Sylvain] Wiltord. And that bit is genetic. The rest is culture and education. But the genetic bit can’t be added. Not yet, anyway.”
Britain is no less fortunate than France in the existence of a pool of immigrant communities. But have our coaches identified and exploited the unique attribute of “explosive speed” noted by Wenger? With the single exception of John Barnes, a product of the Jamaican middle class, our internationally successful black players – such as Viv Anderson, Sol Campbell, Paul Ince and now Emile Heskey – have been chosen on the basis of other virtues, virtues which do not differentiate them from their white counterparts, including an appetite for trench warfare. Our “explosive speedsters”, from Laurie Cunningham through Franz Carr and the Wallace brothers to Mark Walters and Tony Daley, have not in general been nurtured within a culture of trust and encouragement.
Maybe that’s a good place to start, a place to spend some of the tens of millions of pounds flooding in from those who want to exploit a commercial relationship with the game of 22 men and a ball. Maybe it’s time, as we say goodbye to the international careers of Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, David Seaman, Paul Ince, Dennis Wise and a few others besides, to take some really meaningful steps to re-establish the best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest supply of talented young players available to wear the white shirt.
The old concept of the Football Association school at Lilleshall, which was closed down because the clubs resented having talented youngsters taken out of buy canada goose jacket in canada their hands, needs resurrecting. And we need not one Lilleshall but a dozen, taking boys from around the country and giving them “culture and education”.
Does Adam Crozier, the former advertising man who is now the chief executive of the Football Association, have the vision to create such a scheme, and the strength to bully the likes of Bates and Dein into accepting it? Or is football now so much a pale imitation of New Labour that presentation is the only virtue?
Wenger, of course, is not entirely without guilt. At Arsenal, under Liam are there any canada goose outlet stores Brady’s care, more than one generation of young players is kicking its heels, waiting its turn while the manager buys veterans from Ukraine, from Croatia, from France. He wants to win the European Cup, but the price of his success, and Chelsea’s, and soon maybe even Manchester United’s, is too high.
Dein, Bates and Martin Edwards must recognise their part in England’s Euro 2000 debacle. They need to be told that they have a responsibility not just to providing immediate satisfaction for the holders of their shares and their season tickets but to the long-term growth of the game on whose profits they have grown fat.
Altruism and professional football are further apart now than they have ever been – but the wider the gap is allowed to grow, the harder Kevin Keegan’s job becomes. And as we saw this week, it is already next to impossible.