In another disappointing week for England, Harry Redknapp has kicked a hurting side while they were down.
Speaking to BBC Sportsweek on Sunday 22nd June, Redknapp stated: “When full internationals came around, two or three players didn’t want to go and play for England. They’d come to me 10 days before the game and say: ‘Gaffer, get me out of the game. I don’t want to play in it.’”
The allegations by Redknapp have sparked further controversy over the international squad yet have created more questions than answers.
Redknapp, who will not name the players, despite being prompted to by Steven Gerrard, also stated that a common reason for players dropping out of international duty was that the immense pressure placed on their shoulders was not worth “the aggro”.
It seems that with England’s lack of success and heavy media influence, many players would rather focus on personal lives and football at club level, not their involvement with the national side. It is sad that a group of players felt that the highest honour in football has become a ordeal rather than a blessing. The criticism of Wayne Rooney’s performance and responsibilities in Brazil has been largely unfair, yet is a prime example of the way players are subjected to this pressure to perform.
Club managers are also partly responsible, with international breaks often heavily criticised for their tendancy to lead to injury. Sir Alex Ferguson tended to only release Ryan Giggs for Wales’s competitive matches, in order to avoid the risk; for one of the oldest players of this generation, Giggs only has 64 international caps.
Redknapp’s allegations have created a heavy debate regarding the naming of the players. Redknapp will not name the players after they came to him in confidence, and he has a duty to protect them. However, it would be intriguing to discover the names of England drop-outs and where they have ended up at club level.
What perhaps Redknapp has unveiled is the source of England’s inconsistency – players dropping out through injury or otherwise – even during the Golden Generation.
When we turn to Spain and Germany, their long spells of consistency have been down to a group of players coming together from a young age, and being carried through into first 11 of their national sides. They learn a philosophy of football that stays the same from the under 21 side through to the end of their career. When we look at England, it is rare a single player makes it through the academy.
Whether the players are named or not, the mentality of some English players does not strike confidence into the hearts of fans hoping for some success any time soon.