Comment: Why did Greg Dyke not go it alone in solving England's problems, rather than creating an entourage? - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Comment: Why did Greg Dyke not go it alone in solving England's problems, rather than creating an entourage?

English game shows it can't move without hitching up all the wagons

Greg Dyke's Football Association commission has no discernible power, only eight of the 10 places are filled and no one is quite sure what its parameters are. But then no one said this would be easy.

Largely, the commission is drawn from the game's institutions, hardwired to protect their own interests in English football's never-ending squabbles over who runs the show. Greg Clarke, Roger Burden and Howard Wilkinson represent significant organisations within the English game. But their track record hardly suggests they are the great revolutionary minds in football.

Like the FA board, carved up between the professional and the grassroots games – with room for two independents – so English football cannot move without hitching up all the wagons for the big parade: the Premier League (absent in this case), the Football League, the Professional Footballers' Association, the League Managers Association, the amateur game and so on.

There is still general bewilderment in certain quarters as to why Dyke did not undertake alone his investigation into how the future of the English footballer can be preserved. He is the chairman of the FA, he does not need an entourage if he wants to go asking hard questions of people. But an entourage he has got.

His speech six weeks ago about the dwindling numbers of English footballers in the Premier League jolted the whole game. It was impressive for not pulling punches. Yet one gets the impression that the intervening weeks have shown him just how hard it is to get anywhere in English football without inviting the whole extended family.

The Premier League clubs decided at their most recent meeting last month that they would not have a representation on the commission. New chairman Anthony Fry was too fresh to the job. Chief executive Richard Scudamore was too busy. Instead the clubs promised to help wherever they could (and keep the whole shooting match at arm's length).

The Premier League already feels it has revolutionised youth development with the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), now into its second year. It fought hard to get that through against Football League opposition – with FA support. The last thing the league wanted was Dyke announcing a headline-grabbing commission into youth development.

Yet, without the acquiescence of the Premier League there will be no change because it is the clubs that control the development of young players, and it is the clubs who give them their opportunity to play first-team football.

There have been suggestions that Sir Alex Ferguson will fill one of the two remaining places which will, naturally, give the commission its star name and a voice that is capable of forcing – or at the very least embarrassing – certain elements of the game into action. But for all the profile Ferguson would bring, his loyalties will always be to what is best for Manchester United.

As for the stand-out names on the commission, Glenn Hoddle is the last England manager who had what might be considered a coherent philosophy when it came to the way his teams played. If it was the other parts of modern management that Hoddle found difficult, there can be no doubting his understanding of the game.

Danny Mills is a pressbox regular in his capacity as a BBC Radio 5 Live summariser and having spoken to him I know he has strong ideas on academy football – which he watches a lot. The kind of player he was means his inclusion will invite derision from some, but at least this is one former footballer who could be bothered to throw his hat into the ring.

Dyke's reputation is of a risk-taker, a man who is unafraid of pursuing a path without knowing the destination in the conviction it will turn out fine in the end. This commission has that feel to it: that the bigger the noise he makes in football, the more influence he is likely to accumulate. It is an interesting strategy but it will be no guarantee of success.

Eight wise men: Dyke's team to revive England

Glenn Hoddle

It is 14 years since Hoddle was sacked as England manager and seven since he left his last job in management, with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Has been running a football academy in Spain for the last five years. Took England to the World Cup finals in 1998, where they were beaten by Argentina in the second round, and was sacked the following year after comments he made about disabled people.

Roger Burden

The grass-roots voice on the commission and a former acting chairman of the FA, the 67-year-old Burden has been on the FA Council for 18 years, having worked his way up from the Gloucestershire FA. Chair of the FA's judiciary panel and a member of the panel that nominated Dyke.

 

Howard Wilkinson (above)

The former Leeds United manager – he won the last First Division title before the formation of the Premier League – celebrates his 70th birthday next month. A former technical director at the FA, he twice took on a caretaker role as England manager and also managed the England Under-21 side from 1999 to 2001. Is now chairman of the League Managers Association. (Picture credit: Getty)

Danny Mills

The 36-year-old one-time England full-back is currently the youngest man on Dyke's commission. Made his name at Leeds in the early part of the century, having begun his career at Norwich. Kevin Keegan took him to Manchester City in 2004 but injury limited his appearances there. Won 19 caps for England and has worked in the media since retiring in 2009. (Picture credit: Rex Features)

Greg Clarke

Chairman of the Football League since 2010. A Leicester City fan, Clarke enjoyed a successful business career, notably with Cable & Wireless, before taking over at the League. The 55-year-old was considered for the FA chairmanship alongside Dyke. Has been accused by some League clubs of not standing up to the Premier League.

Greg Dyke

The 66-year-old took on the chairmanship of the FA this summer. Was director general of the BBC from 2000 to 2004 before resigning in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry. Has been chairman of Brentford since 2006 and is also a Manchester United fan and formerly a director at Old Trafford.

Dario Gradi

At 72 the former Crewe Alexandra manager is the oldest man on the panel. Made his name during his quarter of a century in charge of Crewe, taking them from the then Fourth Division to the second tier of English football on meagre resources. He made his reputation by unearthing young, English talent, most notably David Platt.

Ritchie Humphreys

The 35-year-old Chesterfield defender has succeeded Clarke Carlisle as chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association. Began his career in the Premier League at Sheffield Wednesday and played for England in the Under-20 World Cup. Also played at Under-21 level but failed to live up to his early promise. Dropped down the leagues and spent the bulk of his career at Hartlepool. (Picture credit: Getty)

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