Letter: Coaches to blame, not the players

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Sir: In the weeks after Manchester United relied on favourable results elsewhere to progress in Europe, is it not about time that the real culprits stood up to be counted and took the blame for British football's inability to achieve lasting success at European club and international level?

I refer to the coaches and managers in this country who have failed time and time again to do justice to the players and supporters. If Celta Vigo's triumph over Liverpool does nothing else, surely the overwhelming defeat by this relative pauper (most expensive player pounds 1.25m) should at least tell Liverpool it is how they are doing it that is wrong, not who they have. British playing talent is as good as any in the world, it just needs decent coaches. There are a few - Steve Harrison consistently proves his ability - and Aston Villa have outperformed nearly everyone this season with a team of British journeymen. Clough rarely spent big money on players but made silk purses out of the likes of players like McGovern, Burns, O'Hare and Robertson.

When you have David Pleat as a "Director of Football" seemingly acknowledged as a guru, perhaps you should pay some attention to the things he says - he talks of Edgar Davids as a good box-to-box player who gets his foot in and Kluivert as a man with a good engine. I think he is missing the point, or betraying that his focus is narrow, unimaginative and way off- beam - along with too many British colleagues.

NIGEL CUBBAGE

Markyate, Herts

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