John Barnes claims England are stuck in the Dark Ages following Under-21 European Championships exit

The Young Lions lost to Italy and then Norway

John Barnes believes English football is stuck in the Dark Ages and would have struggled at the Under-21 European Championships even with the players they were denied.

The Young Lions headed to Israel among the favourites after a run of nine successive wins, but became the first team to exit the competition following defeats to Italy and Norway.

A key issue for Stuart Pearce's side has been the string of high-profile players made unavailable, with eligible players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck instead linking up with the senior side.

However, former England international Barnes does not believe their absence is behind the Young Lions' failure, insisting the issues run deeper than that.

"We are not even producing enough players for the senior side, never mind the Under-21s," he told talkSPORT.

"The way we're talking you would think we have Under-21 superstars who are being plucked away from the Under-21s and if they played they would win the Under-21 championship.

"If we played our best players from the Under-21s, I still don't think we would be good enough to win the Under-21 championship. The players aren't there. They are not good enough.

"We still like this old British mentality of up-and-at them, get stuck in, because we are not comfortable keeping the ball if it is seemingly going nowhere.

"Spain don't keep the ball just for the sake of it, but in England we have this attitude that, if you are keeping the ball for 20 passes without getting over the halfway line, they are doing it for no reason. We have to change our philosophy and our mentality."

Aware of the need for progress, the Football Association opened St George's Park training complex last year - a structure seen as key to the future of English football.

"St George's Park and the infrastructure and the money they have spent has nothing to do with addressing the problem," Barnes said. "It has to do with the philosophy.

"You don't need a St George's Park to change the philosophy, you can do that in an open park.

"It is the culture we have to change, nothing to do with spending £50million on a structure."

Barnes is not the first high-profile figure to hit out at the English game over the course of the Under-21 Championships.

Former England managers Glenn Hoddle, Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren have all expressed their concerns, while former defender Sol Campbell feels certain young stars have approached tournaments with an unhealthy sense of entitlement before they have achieved anything in the game.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who won 81 caps, has also raised concerns about the state of the English game.

"It starts way down the chain," he posted on Twitter.

"For me u should b able to pluck an u18s player out n put him into the 1st team n not have to school him tactically,just school on opposition.

"Would not happen now at all for us,in contrast if Spain or Germany threw a u18 in he would know his role as these countries have an identity."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home