Tim Sherwood on World Cup 2014: There is young English talent out there but we need to trust them and be patient


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The Independent Football

An early exit in the group stages for England gives ammunition to those who make the assumption that all English footballers are inferior. There is a perception among many football people who work outside of England that everything English – the players, the coaching, the managers – is bad. That gets through to the people who make decisions at clubs.


I hope the Football Association don’t listen to that rubbish. There is still a lot of talent and potential in our game.

My concern again is that clubs will not feel they can rely on the young English players who come through their own system. It will send the English game into another period of self-doubt. If we have no confidence in those young players, we will not come out the other side.

Watching England in this World Cup finals was the first occasion in a long time I have found myself looking forward to the next tournament two years ahead. I still believe that England have a lot to look forward to in the future.

I did not think it was the worst performance. The difference was that in Luis Suarez, Uruguay had a world-class player capable of getting them off the hook with two goals. They would not have won the game without him. He is a freak of nature. How can he be so fit and strong when he has missed so much football?

That is the problem in a one-off World Cup finals game. Man-for-man, England matched Uruguay. In many positions England had stronger players. Apart from that period at the start of the second half when Uruguay looked like they might go  2-0 up, I felt that England had the best of the match. They took the game to Uruguay. But England did not take their chances.


Wayne Rooney did not have a bad game, but he could have scored a hat-trick. He had the free-kick that whistled over. I don’t know how the header during the first half did not go in. Then there was his shot in the second half which he should have scored.

Suarez was not always world-class. He was allowed to develop and become that way. It is about confidence in your ability and that only comes with time. But when you have players like that in the side they make all the difference. As long as the other 10 can hang in there and be dogged, the one can win them the game.

The schoolboy errors that England made for the second goal reminded me of South Africa four years ago when a long ball opened up the defence against Germany and Miroslav Klose scored.

One criticism I have of English players is that they do tend to switch off at moments during the game. Our concentration levels are poor. You can spot it in certain players when they train. They just go through the motions. During passing drills, they look at each other as if they are too good for it. Keeping those simple things about your game sharp eliminates mistakes during matches. Most goals come from individual errors.

There is a lot that the younger players can learn, as well as those who will be in the squad that competes to qualify for the next World Cup finals. Daniel Sturridge should have made more of the elbow from Diego Godin in the first half. Godin is Uruguay’s captain, their first-choice centre-back and he was already on a booking. Then he puts an arm into Sturridge’s throat. Sturridge needs to go down and make more of it.

People say this is not the English way. They say, “But we are honest”. There would be nothing dishonest about going down after getting one in the throat. Godin made contact and he deserved a second yellow card. In those situations you need your players to put pressure on the referee. It is all very well getting a pat on the back for being sporting. Or getting the fair  play award. But what about winning the World Cup?

We need to be more street-wise. I am not saying that Roy should coach the players to do it. But it needs to be something they are aware of. They see it every week in the Premier League. You need to know when the opposition’s skipper is on a yellow. If he commits a foul again, you have to make sure that the referee knows about it.

When I was growing up as a footballer, if you were fouled the culture was to jump up quickly and pretend it had not hurt you. It is different now. Those moments can change games and change careers.

The Football Association need to back Roy, and the supporters do too. If he is going to bring through the young players in this squad like Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere then he is going to need some patience. It might be a slow start, but the time to do it is now.

Germany and Spain brought through young teams. I am not saying we have to follow their style. But we need their levels of patience to allow a team to develop. We need a long-term plan and firm foundations. We cannot just pick a manager for one tournament. Giving experience to younger players might mean that they lose a few games. Roy’s win percentage could take a bit of a battering. But the young players need to have the experience, and they will make mistakes along the way.

What we really miss is the midfielder who passes the ball. The “pivot” position. We just do not seem to develop enough of those players. It is often a role that only older, more experienced players are trusted with at club level. The only young English player who does it regularly in the Premier League is James Ward-Prowse at Southampton. But would he be allowed to do the same in a top-four side?

It is easier to throw young players into more attacking roles where a mistake is likely to be less costly. It is more difficult to give them that responsible role. In the Premier League last season, the best English player for keeping possession and dictating the tempo was Gareth Barry. He was at the centre of everything that Everton did well. He sped up the pace of a game and he knew when to slow it down.

The young players I have mentioned before all have bright futures just as long as they are trusted to play. Gary Cahill did well against Uruguay, so too Sturridge. Joe Hart has another tournament under his belt. I don’t think we should be brainwashed by those who say there are no good young English players out there.

Why I said no to West Bromwich Albion

I went up to speak to them a couple of times and they offered me the job. I accepted provisionally and we began negotiations. The longer it went on, the more I doubted whether it was the right job for me. We could not reach agreement. West Brom are a good club and I wish them every success. It has not changed my outlook. I want to get back into the game. I believe I have a lot to offer.