Barnes fears for England in trying to catch Spain best

 

That goal in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana nearly three decades ago provided a tantalising hint of what English football could produce, but John Barnes has provided a sobering assessment of the national team's long road to aspirations of silverware. Things may get worse before they get better, he says, because the power of the Premier League will continue to prevent young players gaining the top-flight experience integral to the flourishing of Spain and Germany.

Barnes had played 30 times for Watford when he accelerated through the entire Brazil side in June 1984, and he joins The Independent columnist Rafael Benitez, the Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, Gérard Houllier, Patrick Vieira and the England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce in his forceful argument that the dearth of Premier League experience is England's single biggest problem.

"The German football association came to an agreement with the clubs that to help the national team they had to promote young German players in the clubs," Barnes said. "German clubs suffered for five years but look at how good they are now. Unfortunately that won't happen in England because of the Premier League, the owners and how much more important it is in England to play for your club rather than your country. In Spain there is an identity and responsibility to have, like, Barcelona playing Catalan players.

"Even in Italy it was no secret that the national team improved when the whole exodus of their players stopped and they were forced to have Italian players playing for their big teams like Juventus, and look how good their team is. Unless our best young players are playing regularly for their clubs the national team will suffer."

Benitez has argued that Premier League clubs must be allowed to put reserve sides through the football pyramid – which won't happen – and that a competitive under-21 reserve league is needed. The Premier League is launching one next month. But Barnes dismissed the idea of that making a difference.

"No," he said. "You need players playing at the highest level of the Champions' League. Unfortunately it will get worse before it starts to get better for the national team in England. It's the clubs who will be fine."

Barnes said, at the launch of the National Football Museum in Manchester, that the humility England demonstrated at the European Championship is a significant step. "We had a bit of a knock, I must admit, when Fifa made us number four in the world this week (Brazil are 11th). I think that's a bit of a setback.Because maybe we are going to think 'Oh we're number four! Let's get back to thinking we are the best in the world and we should be winning the World Cup. We don't have to move forward, or develop'."

England do need to develop, with a wholesale change in their philosophy, Barnes said – a point Benitez has pressed hard in recent weeks. "I don't think we should necessarily concentrate on the desire and the determination and the good old British up-and-at-'em spirit which over the years I think we've played too much on," said Barnes.

"With the laws these days you can't be too over-aggressive so we then have to improve on the other side of things. I don't think we need to improve our individual technique. We need to improve our collective philosophy; our general team philosophy in how we want to play, how we want to move the ball, do we want to keep the ball for maybe 30 passes without necessarily going forward? That's not traditionally our thing. Our thing is 'let's get the ball moving forward as quickly as possible'. We are not going to play like Spain but we can get a happy medium, a happy blend."

Barnes does not see the Olympics as significant. "It's a great showcase, but for me football is about playing at the highest level like the World Cup, the Champions' League. Yes, it's great to say you are playing in the Olympics but that isn't going to improve anything. For athletics, swimming, cycling yes – it's the pinnacle. For football and tennis, it's a sideshow."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam