The England Under-21 team has come in for criticism following their defeat to Italy in the Under-21 Championships. The Under-21s have been accused of not only playing poorly in their opening match of the tournament but also of being a long ball team. Stuart Pearce admitted that his team were poor as was reported on the BBC Sport website and knows that they need to get a win against Norway today to maintain their interest in the competition.
As the England Under-21 team face the possibility of an early exit from the European Championships Glenn Hoddle has been very vociferous in his criticism of the England set-up. Should Hoddle take over as manager of the Under-21 team from Stuart Pearce?
“The performance was very poor. The players know that it wasn’t good enough, the better team won……We were awful.”
Two former Tottenham mangers aired their views following the game. David Pleat told the BBC,
“England were England, they defended and worked hard for each other but lacked inspiration.”
Glenn Hoddle was quoted in the Daily Express,
“We played too many long balls, we had no options on the ball and it is a concern it is running through to the national team and this team…..We have got to find players that can cope with the ball and be confident to take the ball even when they are marked. We haven’t got those type of players in there at the moment.”
With Stuart Pearce’s contract due to end this summer there is an opportunity for the Football Association to consider how best to promote the development of the young England players. Pearce has stated that he would be interested in continuing in the role but having been in charge since 2007, the question has to be asked, “Is it time for a change?”
Pearce has styled the team in his own image which is similar to Roy Hodgson’s thinking both as a club manager and in his year with England. It is high on commitment, energy and organisation. The absence of creative players however, has left the team with only one option – the long ball.
Hoddle as England Under-21 Manager
If Glenn Hoddle were to take over the reins, the focus would change to one where style would be important with ball playing players who have the ability to pass the ball being given an opportunity. The Under-21 team was crying out for a player like Tom Carroll and under Hoddle, he might be given the chance to flourish. A similar problem exists throughout the England under-age teams where the concentration is on running and strength rather than on ball playing, creative players. I watched a Tottenham junior player perform as he does for the Spurs Academy, coming deep to collect the ball and distribute it from that position but the England coaches didn’t want him to do that, they preferred to constantly play the long ball from the back, by-passing midfield, for powerful,running strikers to run onto. Having played well on his debut, the Spurs player has been denied any further opportunity to represent his country.Glenn Hoddle, a Tottenham legend, could be a suitable alternative to help further the development of the young England players. As a player he was one of the most skilful in Europe and knows what is needed to be a success at international level. He has managed at club level, including his disappointing spell at White Hart Lane, and also the full England team so is well aware of the difficulties of coping with the club v country problem. Since leaving management Hoddle has set up his Academy to help young players who were released by clubs at an early stage.
Another former Tottenham player had a very successful period as manager of the England Under-21 side so perhaps Hoddle could follow in the footsteps of Peter Taylor who is currently with the England Under-20 side, to help develop the next generation of England’s younger players.
Hoddle would be an ideal appointment for the Under-21 team and it would be a chance for him to get back into football and use his undoubted talent, knowledge and skill as a coach to good purpose. This week there has been talk of the lack of opportunity for England Under-21 players in the Premier League but under Hoddle’s guidance the young players would receive the best possible coaching to give them an opportunity of developing to become regulars in the Premier League and make the step up to full internationals. Such a move will require a major change in the FA’s approach who have spent millions on developing their new training facilities, the National Football Centre, St. George’s Park, near Burton-on-Trent. The Football Association need to approach the problem with vision, the England ‘style’ has failed since 1966 so it’s time for a radical change if players are to be developed who can compete with the young Spanish, German and continental players who have the skills that are so lacking in English players and teams. Glenn Hoddle has the ability and heart for such a task but have the FA the vision to appoint him?