• Slovenia 2 England 3 (TWOFOLD GAZE...)


    SLOVENIA 2 Novakovic (37'), Pecnik (84') ENGLAND 3 Wilshere (57', 73'), Rooney (86')

    HT 1-0


    We''ll have to score one more than whoever we play - there won't be many clean sheets based on this performance.

    I can imagine how the England defence will cope - or not - with the big dogs of European football, assuming we get anywhere near the Quarter Final and play a decent team, for a change. Yes, England have some good individual players; by Euro 2016, England will have a current all-time top goalscorer in the squad, too. The orchestrator of the English game - Roy Hodgson - will oversee a team that is financially in a different league to most teams they will play against. But, in line with recent history, the likely outcome is that these poorer teams will perform with a richer flow compared to our beloved Egregious Albion.

    Who would bet against England reverting to type June 2016 and being undone by a lack of vision individually and collectively? My guess is that England will be exposed by strategic errors, much like Team England's Business Unit. All this is underpinned by a coaching philosophy that fails to understand its only realistic opportunity. As of today, on an increasingly crowded pitch, the FA's only real opportunity is to teach technique to Key Stage 1 kids (i.e. age 5 - 8 yrs). Once kids hit upper primary the FA's sphere of influence at 'elite performance' level is relegated to non-league.

    The FA should admit this: they could then re-prioritise their main objectives and set their strategy accordingly. But there's no ROI (Return On Investment) on that plan. For example, plug in the numbers for Wembley Stadium and St George's Park here and you see their problem. So the opportunity to focus resources where they're needed has been undone by the FA's poor historical judgement. The FA is more interested in prestige projects like Wembley Stadium and SGP than doing what they ought to do and put their resources where they're needed (i.e. KS1). So, the cycle goes on - and on. I would love to be proved wrong, but England have no defence for their performances at France 2016. As an aside, look at the participation rates since London 2012 and plot your trend line if you dare! Does the future look any better?

    Teaching kids to play at KS1 is arguably the most important ingredient that's missing across the English and British football landscape. Watch the Slovenia and Republic of Ireland games again and look at some of the fundamental technical errors that even some of our elite England players commit in-game (i.e. how to receive a pass, play a first touch, etc). The FA should focus on fixing this by expanding participation at KS1 to lay bettter foundations across the game. Commercial football stakeholders could then build on these foundations.

    Agents: we and you should all be helping young people make good decisions in life first which would then manifest in their football play as a natural consequence. But, instead of this, we have an infantilised bunch of overpaid players who don't know which product to stand behind without getting the nod from their agent. Today, Raheem is the current name in the frame, but there will be squad rotation over the next 12 months, of course.

    Until there is fundamental transformational reform we are left to reflect on Glenn Hoddle's half time analysis of Cahilll and Smalling regarding their lack of awareness. If I had their ear I would refer them to study the strategy of Musashi:

    The Book of Five Rings (twofold gaze: perception and sight).

    'All things entail rising and falling rhythm. You must be able to discern this.'

    With a rising influence from someone who knows how to attack and win (Gary Neville, you've torn your dress), England could still have a good attacking team next summer. And we can hope for some 'Vindaloo' spirit.

    My team for France 2016 would be a 4 3 3:


    defender/ defender/ defender/ defender



    Updated May 2016:

    Clyne/ Stones/ Terry*/ Bertrand

    Alli/ Dier/ Wilshire

    Rooney/ Kane/ Vardy

    * Football reasons only - age can not wither him in the face of the competition this season (though harmony and team spirit would be unbalanced, unfortunately)


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