Ian Holloway: If you want to play for your country, clean the toilets first
It's time our young players learned they aren't so special – discipline would help them on the pitch
Sunday 28 August 2011
England play on Friday – against Wales in a Euro 2012 qualifier – but I can't say I'm over-enamoured by the thought of watching. I don't mean that as a criticism of Fabio Capello. He's a wonderful fella, and he has instilled such great discipline that half the team seem scared to death of him.
The problem I've got is that as a country we don't seem to have any idea which way we want to play.
Look at Spain. It doesn't matter how big, quick or strong individual lads are, they are all brilliant players, comfortable with the ball at their feet. They pass and move.
When I watched Germany in the World Cup, their young kids did exactly the same. As a proud Englishman that is frustrating because I don't see us doing it.
There doesn't seem to be any proper system or structure in place for coaching young kids, and for me the whole game needs an overhaul from the bottom upwards.
The National Football Centre is meant to be doing it, but is it? We tried a similar thing at Lilleshall but it just created some big-heads.
I consider myself so fortunate that I was picked up at the age of nine by Bristol Rovers. We were taught by the first-team coaches, who were very good. But I was one of the lucky ones.
Bobby Charlton trained himself. He went out on the street and banged a ball against the wall. David Beckham, as talented as he was, practised relentlessly.
Half the problem is that nowadays young players get away with far too much. We were tested continuously, even when we weren't playing. We had to scrub people's boots and clean the toilets. We had to do all the things that keep you grounded as a human being. They don't have to do that now. Why not?
Let's show these kids that they aren't something special, that they are normal human beings. Let's get the young people of today to actually behave themselves and show some discipline.
That's what the whole country needs and lacks, and no one more so than our footballers. If players are earning astronomical amounts of money, surely they have to be good role models, especially when all these poor students have to fork out huge sums just to go to college and get their education?
So I think that despite all the money that has been pumped in, we still aren't doing the right things at the bottom level and that is why we aren't producing the footballers with the technical abilities that seem to be churned out by the likes of Spain and Germany.
For me, the coaching should be very simple. It's the old driving test: mirror, signal, manoeuvre.
When you are driving, you always check the mirror before you indicate. In football, that means checking around you before you shout for the ball. Then you can do the next manoeuvre instantly, which speeds up your play.
I see people call for the ball, they get it, then they look and see what they are going to do with it. That's wrong. Good players receive the ball, handle it instantly, and play with their heads up. It is so simple to do if it's coached into you at an early age.
But kids in this country don't seem to be taught that, whereas the Spaniards are. They are given a ball until they're sick of it.
We need to have a set style of play from bottom to top and stick with it because for the life of me, I don't know what we are doing as a country. What way do we play? What style are we aiming for? Who knows? I think it's a problem that is affecting the whole of our national game.
Having said that, maybe I'm talking total nonsense because according to the Fifa rankings, England are the fourth best team in the world. Spain, the world and European champions, have been relegated to No 2, behind Holland.
The rankings seem completely ridiculous to me and let's be honest, you can use statistics to suit anything. All that matters is taking on another team in an important game and winning it.
Spain have consistently done that over the past few years. Unfortunately, for many of the reasons that I have outlined above, the same can't be said of England.
If more people were like Fergie, the world would be a better place
I'm pleased Sir Alex Ferguson has ended his dispute with the BBC because I love to hear him talk.
I just hope the BBC ask him football questions. I want to know why he picks certain players, how he rotates his squad, the tactics he uses. I could ask him a whole book full of questions because I find it fascinating how he can keep churning out these wonderful teams.
I don't know what the argument with the BBC was all about but he obviously felt strongly enough to take the stand he did. That doesn't surprise me because he is a man of great principle.
He has old-fashioned values, which he wears on his sleeve. That might drive some people crazy sometimes but if more folk were the same as him the world would be a better place.
He insists his players have the same values and that's why he has made Manchester United into the greatest side in the world.
He is a great bloke who deserves every bit of success he has ever had. It's terrific that we'll be hearing him every week on Match of the Day.
It's not too much for Eto'o
I nearly choked on my breakfast when I read that Samuel Eto'o was on £15m a year. Blimey, I played at the wrong time.
He's a lucky lad but anyone having a pop at him is wrong. Rich people use football clubs as a toy. For them it's an ego thing and a place to stick their dosh rather than pay taxes.
They choose to offer ridiculous wages to players and you can't blame the likes of Eto'o for taking them. You have a career till you're 35 if you're lucky and then you have to get through till old age.
I'd say Samuel will be OK in his retirement but not all footballers will be the same.
Put it this way, if I'd have been offered that sort of money, I'd have snapped their hands off.
Wily tortoise beats the hare
My young midfielder at Blackpool Tom Ince – Paul's lad – owes me money. I told him in training the other day I'd race him for a tenner.
These young lads don't mean to be egotistical but they can't help themselves. So he said yes, we set off together and I virtually walked it. He looked a bit confused, till I explained that I said I'd race him – I didn't say I'd beat him.
Works every time. I don't think he's too happy but I'll make sure I get my money.
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