Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Level Playing Field

There’s been much talk recently about the state of the game in England. The national team’s failure to qualify for Eurodwyer-2.jpg 2008 has led to lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth and everyone you talk to has an opinion on how we got here.

Many people feel that there are too many foreign players in the English Premier League (EPL) and that this has had some huge detrimental effect on the game at all levels. I’m not so sure. In fact, I would like to make the case that, rather than holding the game back, the number of foreign players in the EPL is actually helping the game.

So here’s my theory. The Premier League clubs are often criticised for their failure to develop enough young English talent. Young players from 10 years of age might get called in to the Manchester Utd Academy but very few of them will make it and the vast majority will be let go by the age of 16, while expensive foreign imports take their place in the senior teams.

So what do these players do? Some get jobs, some go back to school, and some carry on playing in the lower leagues or in non-league soccer. So now you have a great many players who have been coached by some of the best coaches around, have played at a decent level and are now bringing that experience, skill and quality to the lower leagues. If you follow lower league football in England you can’t deny that the quality and excitement is greater than ever.

And the other factor to add into the equation is the level of coaching. There was a time when coaching expertise was the domain of the big clubs with lots of money (or at least with a large fan base and a decent heritage). That is no longer the case.

The coaching expertise which underpins the success of the Big 4 EPL clubs is now easily available to lower league and grassroots coaches alike. The Internet, the broadcast media, and even the FA have brought to the fore the real issues for coaches. There is a degree of concensus about how and what to coach our players and resources to develop those coaching skills are available to all.

Lowly Havant and Waterlooville very nearly knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup a few weeks ago. I believe this was made possible by a combination of the factors that I’ve just outlined. Their team contained a number of players who had trained at bigger clubs, and their coaches have access to the same sports science and coaching resources as the coaches at Liverpool. These factors are just as relevant at international level.

So why did England fail to qualify for Euro 2008? Simple. They lost games to well-coached, highly skilled and motivated international soccer teams.

Dwyer Scullion, Publisher, Better Soccer Coaching


1 Comment so far
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I totally agree. I believe players who are good enough will make it, regardless of what nationalities are at certain clubs. I also think for example someone like Fabregas at Arsenal is an indication that the coaching over here is as good as anywhere, although he maybe Spanish his education has come from Britian with coaches like Pat Rice and someone like Liam Brady also having a big input with his role at the club, yet i have heard people say things like our youngsters arent as good as people like Fabregas?!?!
I also believe that in this years FA Cup which has been the best for years that it has shown that well organised teams regardless of which league can compete with higher standards. As you have stated if players are well drilled and well motivated then they can achieve things. I once played against a side that contained one ex Walsall proffesional and two ex vauxhall conference players(as it was then known) and i can genuinly say they were tremendous players which shows that a lot of lower level football just isnt given the credit or recognition it deserves, if any player i coach reaches the top end end of non league football i would be suitably pleased that i had done a reasonable job.
Going back to my original point about foriegn players lets not forget how many unknown British coaches are working all over the world helping to develop players so maybe sometimes we are too harsh on analysing the way we coach in Britian. I get the impression sometimes in the press etc that the belief is everyone else does it better, but that isnt the case. Gary Johnson worked with the Latvian team and at the time was an unknown but since coming back here he has proved with Yeovil and Bristol City that he does things right so he surely must have benefited the Latvians…yet if a top rated Latvian appeared how much credit would Johnson or Britisgh coaching recieve or would it be another case of “foriegn coaching and technical ability is better”.

Comment by swift1

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