The final word on England failure: Practice

Date published: Tuesday 19th July 2016 9:25 - Daniel Storey

Some excellent variety in this Mailbox. Keep it coming. Send them to…


A final word on England (at least for now): Practice
There is a suspicion that England is mentally soft under pressure. This is wrong. Their mind is not soft under pressure. Their technique is soft under pressure.

How do you become awesome at something? You practice it. How do you become so awesome at something you can trust it when the pressure is on? You practice it some more. This is the difference between someone who can play a nice soothing piano piece at a slow 90 beats per minute at home with no audience and a virtuoso who can play odd time Jazz Funk and 200 beats per minute at Carnegie Hall. Practice.

Yes English players practice their technique….still far less than their competition, particularly when growing up. How do you become so awesome at something you are better than the world leaders? You practice even more than them.

Simply put, the current generation of England players didn’t have enough hours on technique when they were growing up. Sure they had plenty – that’s why they are good footballers. But they didn’t have as many as their professional colleagues in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Holland and yes…even Belgium and possibly Denmark/Sweden. Its too late, they won’t get that childhood back. The good news is, apparently English youth development is more technique focussed now so the benefits will start to show…fifteen years from now.

A question that comes up often here is “Why don’t English players move abroad” and the usual theory is the money is better in England and the desire to stay in the comfort zone. Those undoubtedly have some impact but is it not obvious that the reason they aren’t recruited by continental clubs is that they aren’t good enough? Its no surprise really that Joe Cole got recruited to play overseas…his technique is a lot better than most English players.

So yeah, what does it matter whether its Sam or they somehow managed to get Low or Del Bosque? The tactics will be better but the players technique won’t match their competition.
Hugo, NUFC (Australia)


Should Leicester do a one-season Champions League gamble? Hmmm
I thought of this a couple of months ago, but after reading Ranieri discussing the aim of winning another trophy this year, and then the reported offer from Rangers to (tubby) Ronaldo to play only European matches, I thought maybe it’s not so silly.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to see Leicester, who would be a top seed in the champions league, blow all of last year’s prize money and this year’s broadcasting revenue on star loan signings for a year and have a dip at winning the big kahuna!

I may be way off the mark with the following list of players, as I don’t know the most up to date status of these people, as I live in a barbarous far-away nation (and it’s not really my point). But a selection of… Casillas, Matic, Ashley Cole, Carrick (need some english), Sneijder, half of Colombia (James, Cuadrado, Quintero, Falcao), Schweini, Pato, Tevez.

You’ve got the manager, and the old guys would love the part-time nature of the European schedule.

…Actually it would probably just p**s all the current players off…

…Actually, the current players are bailing out anyway…
Ted, Perth Glory


Crystal Palace’s summer. How about yours?
Now I know there are people reading what I write closely (hi Richard, not that anyone’s counting but my last mail to refer to my team as the Glaziers was in March), it’s the perfect incentive to keep coming back.

Winty wrote something the other day about Crystal Palace chasing Christian Benteke, which seems to have died down a bit of late. I’m ambivalent about this move: the Benteke who tore up the league for Aston Villa would be an asset, but at that price (and the accompanying wages), I’m not convinced about his value for money.

By their previous standards, the Eagles have made a good start to the summer transfer window. Most of the transfer business so far hints at the club having a plan in mind. This is a continuation of a process started with the capture of Yohan Cabaye last season. He was clearly a higher calibre player than most around him, and was our record signing at the time. When faced with supporters’ concerns about a club spending £10m on Cabaye and £9m on Connor Wickham, Steve Parish urged people to “stop thinking like Palace fans”, and that this would be the benchmark for future signings, not outliers.

The three confirmed signings address obvious squad deficiencies, in goal, at centre-back and in attack. Andros Townsend will fit in perfectly with Palace’s other either world-beating or massively frustrating wingers/wide attackers; James Tomkins should slot in alongside Scott Dann in a perfectly adequate midtable centre-back partnership of players that Palace-supporting journalists think should be in the England squad; Steve Mandanda won plaudits in Ligue Un last season, and should be healthy competition for Wayne Hennessey.

In fact, the only part of the transfer plan that concerns me is the potential arrival of Benteke. Again, he would be an asset for most Premier League teams, but his signing would be scarily reminiscent of that time Kenny Dalglish, Ian Ayre and Damien Comolli all read Moneyball and didn’t understand it. You know, when they signed Andy Carroll and then spent a fortune on wingers simply to put crosses onto his head, only to come across as totally one-dimensional. This would happen at Crystal Palace if their strike force was Benteke, Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell.

Obviously Benteke is the best of the three, but spending upwards of £30m on making Plan A better makes little sense when an effective Plan B could be sourced for less, or by spreading that amount across two or three players good enough to make a difference.

So far, Gayle leaving is the only deal I’m disappointed with, especially as our only strikers are Wickham and Campbell, but the rest of the players to depart are players who needed upgrading anyway. There is still a need for quantity as well as quality, but there is still time and to now, Alan Pardew has made a good start.

How is everyone else feeling about their team’s transfer window so far? Not my place to exclude anyone but it would be good to hear from fans whose teams aren’t constantly linked with big money transfers for SEO purposes.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven


We are family
Ignoring the performances of some of the players listed below, you have to admit there have to be some pretty proud parents out there (only using current players), but you know that situation where you catch up with relatives after a long time, brothers/cousins etc. and everyone has a bit of a brag? Imagine these lot!

Paul Pogba (Juve, MDF, 100 mil-valued player)
Florentin Pogba (Saint-Etienne, DF,)
Mathias Pogba (Partick Thistle, FWD, 2 goals in 25 games)

Eden Hazard (Chelsea, AMF)
Thorgan Hazard (Borussia MGB, AMF)
Kylian Hazard (Ujpest, AMF)
Ethan Hazard (Tubize, academy player, have to assume also AMF)

Shola Ameobi (FWD, 6”3)
Sammy Ameobi (Newcastle, Winger, 6”4)
Tomi Ameobi (FC Edmonton, FWD, 6”3)

There’s also the Bentekebros, Jonathan and his lesser-known brother Christian, the Benders (Lars and Sven at Leverkusen and Dortmund respectively), and the Sissokobros, Mohamed (ex-Lpool), Noé (ex-notts county) and Abdoul (Mallorca) while their cousin Oumar also still plays.

I know there are plenty more out there but I’m quite amazed when so many people from the same family can reach professional level football.
Jon (Gayle for 10 mill is extremely sad), NUFC, Guangzhou


The Chinese second tier is where it’s really at
As the Chinese Super League continues to insatiably gobble up foreign players (deep breath… Hulk, Teixeira, Ramires, Demba Ba (poor fella, horrendous injury), Gervinho, Pelle, Diego Tardelli, Papiss Cisse, Stephane Mbia, Obafemi Martins, Paulinho, Jackson Martinez), I thought mailboxers might be interested to see some of the stellar names that are plying their trade in the Middle Kingdom in China’s second division.

– Jelavic and Sun Ji Hai(remember him!) – Beijing Renhe
– Seedorf – new head coach of Shenzhen FC!
– Franck Nouble on loan at Inner Mongolia Zhongyou FC
– Luis Fabiano (ex-Porto and Sevilla) playing under Fabio Cannavaro at Tianjin Quanjian FC
– Ciro Ferrara coach at Wuhan Zall FC

Just for colour, remember when Gazza spent some ill-advised time in China? The club was Gansu Tianma and he signed Feb 2003… the club was dissolved in 2004. Talk about a last throw of the dice.
Jonathan R. Smith


Not everybody loves Raymond…
In response to your article highlighting Big Raymond’s latest Twitter rant, one thing that has always bothered me about his high profile barbs at top coaches and teams is that if he is so good at predicting what these world class coaches are doing wrong, why has he never risen above being Wales’ Assistant Manager?

I understand that Raymond has been a coach for a number of countries and been to numerous international tournaments, however, why has no club ever poached him if he is such a visionary who is pointing out what he claims are obvious flaws in training methods? It strikes me that if his ideas were so accurate he would have been able to translate these into transforming a team or country using his methods.

It is very easy for someone to stand on the outside reading newspaper reports about double sessions and putting the players through their paces and throw rants their way and say that you have a visionary way of dealing with it, but with all the money that is flying around the Premier League, these clubs must have done research into theories like this, and they must have decided he is talking a load of rubbish.

I’m more than happy to be proven wrong about Raymond Verheijen if he gets this big opportunity but until then, he just appears to be a little man who goes on a rant every now and then to make himself relevant again and get his name back up on websites.

Am I the only one who thinks this or does anyone know a bit more about him and is able to prove he is actually right?
Jon Laughlin


..And he f**ked it on the plane analogy
The aircraft that has flown over the Atlantic the most is the Boeing 767. It first flew in 1981 and BA, Delta and American Airlines (amongst many many others) fly it to this day. The Boeing 747 ‘jumbo jet’ is even older and thousands of people still get into one every day. Now, why are we still listening to that Dutch bloke?

But I only work for air traffic control, so what do I know.
Andy (Eddie don’t go!) Bournemouth


We apologise unreservedly for this
I can’t believe there was an article on Football365 about that weird fitness guy and his latest ramblings and he wasn’t referred to as ‘weird fitness guy’ once.

Is everything ok?
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach


Joe Cole slipped out the back door
The recent mention of Joe Cole in the mailbox (great goal by the way!) gave me a sad realization: Joe Cole has effectively left us with a minimum of fuss. His prime is long since behind him- probably has been before he even joined Liverpool- but watching that video made me smile.

And yet…it feels like the world forgot about Joe Cole pretty much the moment he left Chelsea. There was a brief flurry of interest when he joined Coventry, but otherwise his career post-Chelsea seems to have happened very quietly and with little fanfare (although granted he was disappointing at Liverpool and was given very little chance at West Ham and Aston Villa).

That feels like such a shame because Joe Cole in his prime was astonishing-probably the most skillful English player since Paul Gascoigne. He wasn’t just a fantastic dribbler with ridiculous skill on the ball, but he was so utterly fearless in a way very few English players are today. He was also a scorer of great goals and seemed primed to go on and become a proper world class player. He never quite fulfilled his vast potential, but three Premier League titles isn’t shabby at all.

We should be having plenty of tributes to the skill and talent he brought to the game and celebrating how lucky we were to see his prodigious talent in his prime. Instead Cole has virtually been forgotten, and that makes me kind of sad.
Turiyo Damascene (I’m not even a Chelsea fan!) Kigali, Rwanda


Oh no, we’ve broken one
I seem to remember reading a F365 article not too long ago about players due to make their Premier League bow, with one of them being Moses Odubajo. I nodded my head in agreement, thinking this kid will take a lot of people by surprise this season, with his pace and trickery. So of course, this morning he was ruled out for 6 months.

I love you football, but you make it hard sometimes.
Rob (at least we still have Robertson on the left) Hull fan in Leeds


Whisper it
It’s probably something along the lines of x + y = whatever will get us the most clicks.

They said it was unique. They didn’t say it was good.


Our man in Japan…
Zweigen won! They actually won an actual match of actual football! They beat mid-table Yamagata 1-0 in a fairly even match overall: both teams created good chances, both defences had shaky moments, and both goalies made decent saves.

A couple of weeks ago Zweigen signed a few new players, one of whom, Keiya Nakami, they had been trying to sign for a while. He made his debut two weeks ago, coming off the bench and immediately taking on and beating a defender and putting in a good cross, all things the man he replaced failed to do in the preceding hour of play. Anyway, it was Nakami who got the goal on Saturday after good play down the left wing and a cross led to a loose ball in the box which he poked home in the 70th minute. Zweigen held on and now are only bottom on goal difference. Extra good news for them is that the teams in 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st all lost.

This time a friend invited me to go and stand behind the goal with the Zweigen supporters which was a fun experience. I lived in Bergamo for a year and this reminded me of being in with the Atalanta ultras but without the lingering threat of someone doing something dangerous or stupid. The singing started about 45 minutes before kickoff, stopped during half time, then started again and was still going about 15 minutes after the end when I left.
James T, Kanazawa, Japan

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