Joey Barton: The current England team are s***, and Sir Alex Ferguson could not put on a coaching session to save his life
Once-capped midfielder was talking at the Leaders in Football Conference
The English game's court jester was holding court again on Thursday, dispersing his usual mix of wisdom, rubbish and casual abuse.
Offered a platform to pontificate by the Leaders in Football Conference, Joey Barton seized it with alacrity predictably lashing out at the England team, the FA and popular culture interspersed with a few sometimes acute, sometimes contradictory, observations on player development.
The once-capped, once-jailed Championship midfielder described the current England team as "s***" stating, “They are told they are 'world class' players, they are 'great', because they have won the Champions League and league titles, but it doesn't mean they are great, they play with great foreign players.
“The English national team are s*** at the minute How bad it is? People go on about the golden generation but they haven't won anything so they are not the golden generation. We have good players who were given to good, mostly foreign, coaches who have become better. Lampard with Mourinho, Gerrard with Houllier and Benitez, then we give them to mediocre coaches at England.
“We love managers but we don't honour coaches. Everyone loves Alex Ferguson, and he is a great great manager, but he couldn't put on a coaching session to save his life. I have spoken to people about it - he can barely lay out cones.
“This commission: What's the point? I struggle with democracy, I think we need a totalitarian figure who knows what he wants and runs with it. At least have the balls to say 'this is what I'm going to do and this is how I'm going to do it' instead of bringing in eight or nine people. This is a smart move from [FA chairman] Greg Dyke as there are eight other people to deflect criticism when England fail next.
“Why aren't we producing more players?: You'd have to really look into it. We need more players playing football, not this academy s***. It is nonsense. They talk about more touches but how does that prepare you for going on loan to the Championship. The Championship is our second tier but I've been playing in it - it's fourth, fifth, sixth tier. There's a big difference in philosophy to the Premier League, I can't imagine what it is like lower down. Academy football does not prepare you for when mortgages are on the line, where the devilment is, where there is a big hairy a*** in the Championship who wants to kick the living daylights out of you and you have to find a way round it.
“These kids in academies are never immersed in real football. They go in there, realise very quickly 'what is this?', They sink or swim. Some will swim, a lot more will sink. It affects confidence, they drop down the pecking order, they go back to their clubs and confidence is less. It is a big issue.
Some of this stream of consciousness made sense, some of it did not, but many will concur with one of his concluding thoughts. Having praised the Premier League's product Barton said: “The Premier League don't care about English football, they care about their product. The FA cares about English football but it has no power. All it can do is fine and ban players.” Maybe Dyke should add Barton to his commission.
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