The Last Word: Here's the bold commission Greg Dyke should have chosen...
Sunday 13 October 2013
Greg Dyke had his chance and blew it. Instead of innovation and imagination, he chose conservatism and conciliation. The Football Association's self-styled radical was excessively respectful to the dysfunctional system he supposedly seeks to dismantle.
His commission, tasked with producing yet another blueprint for English football, represents a missed opportunity and will be reduced to a talking shop. It contains the wrong people chosen for the wrong reasons.
It requires courage to change a culture. The following alternative commission, containing free thinkers and natural leaders, would drive home the message: adapt or die:
Chelsea's England striker has combined law with a football career which flourished in the US. She has 74 caps and a reputation as a convincing advocate for the womens' game. Her brother Sone, the Hull forward, represented England at age-group level before opting to play for Nigeria.
He is in the system as the FA's Elite Development Director, but not of the system. Yet to be tainted as a time-server, he retains the credibility established in an over-arching role at West Bromwich. Organised and strategic, he is in danger of becoming bogged down by the FA's box-ticking mentality.
Former politician and surgeon, whose teams are known for their work ethic and self-discipline. An Australian state cricketer, he played hockey for that country for 16 years before coaching their womens' team to three Olympic titles. He mentors coaches in a wide range of sports, including Aussie Rules, and has overseen structural change in New Zealand cricket and Indian hockey.
The apparatchiks, busy spreading the myth of the Premier League's commitment to the cause, would have cause to fear Arsène Wenger's most effective ally. He combines political nous with commercial experience. He is globally respected and knows how the FA's natural opponents think, operate and influence.
A European Cup winner with Manchester United at 18, he is an undervalued development coach. Seven years as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant ended badly, but he has been a reassuring figure at a time of fundamental change at Manchester City. He understands the parameters of England's problems, having spent a year as Sven Goran Eriksson's assistant.
Tottenham's Academy manager worked in grassroots football before graduating to the elite environment, where he has coached England age-group teams. His philosophy involves expecting his coaches to be "igniters, inspirational people". His players are monitored for technical, social and intellectual development.
The "mind mechanic" of British sport, who has counselled and created champions in athletics, cycling, snooker and swimming, is working with Liverpool. He is a clinical psychiatrist who uses his experience in high-security prisons to address performance anxiety – the fear and irrationality which traditionally plagues England footballers.
A manager of vast experience and unerring insight, he is currently a recruitment consultant to Tottenham. This involves scouting teenage players and utilising a global network of contacts. He also mentors aspiring coaches and managers.
A left-field choice from League One, but since becoming the Football League's youngest manager at 29, he has spent three years honing a holistic coaching programme at MK Dons. Urgent and imaginative, he is a protégé of the Liverpool Academy.
The best English coach you've never heard of. Attached to the Austria national team, he is a pioneer in sports science, whose only English football experience came early in his career at Aston Villa. He has worked for 12 international managers, and encourages players to learn from martial arts and Brazilian dance.
All hail the true fans of football
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, applied to attend the Leaders in Football Conference, staged at Stamford Bridge in midweek. He underwent a phone interview, an extraordinarily crass exercise in self-aggrandisement, but never got as far as paying the four-figure sum required to be a delegate.
The organisers, it seems, did not want fans on the premises. The inference was they would taint the debate, stimulated by the likes of Joey Barton, and taken extremely seriously by people who talk stridently about something called "footie".
For them, football represents a fast buck and a well-stroked ego. For men like Jamie Hurst, Andy Gibbs, Russ Abbott and Simon Blyth, the game is rather more important.
They supported Southern League Hinckley United, liquidated at precisely 11.13am last Monday. Yesterday, they answered a key question: what do fans do when their club no longer exists? Hurst tried Oadby Town, but it wasn't the same. Gibbs spent the day with his daughter. Abbott saw Gresley play Belper. Blyth is making a trip to watch Wick Academy in the Highland League. A light has gone out in their lives. The empty suits would not understand.
Only five nations have applied for more World Cup finals tickets than England, who have asked for 96,780. It is safe to assume legions of British ticket touts, who know a nice little earner when they see one, are largely responsible for such interest.
Makes you proud, doesn't it?
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