Football: Wilkinson's plan to groom national coach

After a weekend in which the spotlight on overseas players underlined the urgency of his task, Howard Wilkinson yesterday launched the Football Association's crusade to improve the quality of English- born footballers.

Wilkinson, the FA's first technical director, issued an ambitious and largely admirable set of proposals which, if carried through, would change the way that English players are developed beyond all recognition.

The most eye-catching suggestion is that the next national coach should be identified now and taken on to Glenn Hoddle's staff, probably as Under- 21 coach.

The most radical proposal is that the professional clubs should have total responsibility for the development of talented young players from the age of eight upwards.

In truth neither of these ideas, nor many of the others, are new. Most Continental clubs have run youth development for years, while Berti Vogts and Cesare Maldini succeeded to their current posts as coaches of Germany and Italy after running the Under-21 sides.

What is new is the belief, held by Wilkinson, that the practical will exists to adopt his "Charter for Quality". The FA's much criticised executives are certainly behind him, but one wonders about the ageing backwoodsmen on the FA Council who may see their influence under threat.

Wilkinson said they should all be happy with the report, but control of the England Under- 15 team is to be taken away from the English Schools FA, while other representative games - run by the ESFA and county FAs - will be greatly curtailed.

The aim is that talented young players should play no more than 30 games per year - mostly for their club academy teams.

"It is a sea change," Wilkinson said. "At the moment the best players play so many games they are sometimes sent home from coaching courses as they are too tired." Wolves' Stephen Froggatt would agree. He used to play 160 games a year and now suffers from repeated injuries.

All youth coaches are to be better trained and facilities improved. The national school is to close, superceded by similar establishments across the country. A national football centre will be set up with support services dealing with aspects such as the physical and mental welfare of players.

The next national coach - Wilkinson said he had someone in mind - is to be headhunted from January 1998. "Something as important as the national team should not be left in the lurch if the manager ups and aways, as has happened, or the FA dispenses with him," Wilkinson said.

Quite who will be prepared to give up a career in club management to work in Glenn Hoddle's shadow is unclear.

The most obvious omission is the absence of a commitment to impose mandatory qualifications for club managers. This is commonplace on the Continent but appears to have met with strong resistance here. Wilkinson said this was a "red herring" adding that just over 50 per cent of Premiership coaches have qualifications. Which means nearly half of them do not. Levels are higher lower in the league and at youth level.

The other flaw - predictably - concerns money. Premiership clubs can finance academies but lower division ones may struggle to staff and equip them properly - especially as it will he hard to retain players post-Bosman. There was no mention of how this would be overcome.

Coaches at junior levels also need incentives if they are to undertake courses which can be expensive, especially as pay rates are poor or non- existent. The game is awash with money yet Wilkinson was reduced to speaking hopefully of sponsorship.

The proposals are still a huge step in the right direction - if the FA Council pass them. The 90 councillors will debate the report at their summer meeting. Before then there will be considerable lobbying as the executive attempts to persuade the councillors, which has resisted all attempts at overhauling their archaic oligarchy, to accept the charter.

It would be a damming indictment of these men (and one woman) if they reject Wilkinson's exhaustively researched, well meaning and desperately needed proposals. "This is the biggest, most exciting and satisfying challenge of my career," Wilkinson said. "There is sufficient will to make change possible. This report has tried to be practical. No one should have a serious objection, no one is trying to take anything away from anybody." We shall see.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there