Why England may never win a major tournament

Much like Liverpool fans, every world cup and euro’s the media hypes up our chances with the famous words “this could be our year”. Sadly we never seem to deliver and reality finally kicks in about where we sit on the world stage in comparison to our competition. However, since our ‘Golden generation’ flopped spectacularly in South Africa, the expectation has died down but there is still that thought in everyone’s mind… “we should be doing better than this”. But why do we always fail ? and will we ever win a tournament ?

I believe there are 5 fundamental reasons to why we fail on the international stage.

No identity

Looking back at the 2006 ….. under Sven Goran Eriksson, England played with  discipline, organisation and structured approach. Our identity was that we wouldn’t score bucket loads of goals, but we would rarely concede because it was hard to break us down. Since then, England have never played with an identity and there is no ‘english style’ of football. We can look at examples such as Spain and they play ‘tika taka’, Germany play ‘total football’ and they have a definable, distinctive way of playing football. We need to invent or create and identity which will stem down to all our age groups and say “this is how we are going to play” and not chop and change every few years trying to copy the nation that is currently winning.

Scouted too early

This is a topic that can be extensively debated and discussed. However I feel we pick kids and throw them into academy’s too early. They are then coached and conditioned on how to play the way that academy or team wants to play from the age of 7. This is good for under 16s international tournaments, but detrimental when it comes to senior football and it all comes down to flair. When looking at other nations (especially the south american teams) they play with that flair and skill they learnt on those dirt pitches and jumpers for goal posts. That is a skill that cannot be taught and those little moments of magic on the pitch come from those times. When looking at England and english players, we have no players with any sort of flair. Where is our Neymar, Ronaldo or Iniesta ?

Play too much

As all English players play in England, they all experience the hectic christmas period of game after game after game, where we all know the other big leagues have the Christmas break.  Without a christmas break, it makes the premier league the best league in the world but it kills our players when it comes to summer. Other nations players feel fresher when it comes to the summer tournaments which gives them a distinctive advantage. However the question remains, could we get rid of the christmas break ? and the answer is no. This is because of the money involved in their Premier League. So our players will always struggle when it comes to freshness in the summer because they are just burnt out.

Not enough english players playing together

This point I noticed when looking at La Liga and the Bundesliga. The best players from Spain and Germany all play in a maximum of 2 different teams whereas the best english players are spread over a minimum of 6 teams. Looking at Barcelona and Real Madrid in recent years, most Spain’s starting 11 could be made up from just those 2 teams highlighting Spain midfield trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets all playing for Barcelona. The same goes for Germany. Dortmund and Bayern could make up most of the starting 11 for Germany. When looking at the English national team you have Henderson, Milner and Clyne coming from Liverpool, Rooney and Carrick from Manchester united, Sterling and Hart from Manchester city, Cahill from Chelsea and Kane and Alli from Spurs. The list or diversity goes on. This means that when these players meet up for England, they hardly know each other and they way they play which is the complete opposite to Spain and Germany.

 No tournament experience 

Finally I end with what I find to be the most crucial aspect of the constant disappointment in major tournaments which is lack of experience. When looking and Spain and Germany U21 teams, they have the best players that can qualify to play and after they can no longer qualify to play they move up to the senior team. When they join that team they can have at least 2 international tournaments under their belt at Under 21 level. Looking at England youngsters that are coming through, Sterling went straight to the World Cup in Brazil, Barkley  only made 6 appearances for U21, Alli made only 2 appearances. So they will go to France 2016 with no real tournament experience.


Overall in my opinion these 5 factors is what stop England at international tournaments and needs to be corrected by the FA on how they look at international football and why we are not successful. If these changes are made we can create stability and a sense of routine in how we go about preparing for international football. Instead it seems disjointed and far too easy to win and England cap which our youngsters take advantage of. However we can all hold onto the belief that maybe things may turn around and our time will come because the QUAITY IS THERE!. My suggestion is to Look at Spain and Germany and not copy their style but look at how consistent their style of play and structure is through the ages and teams and construct a sense of structure and routine from the younger teams all the way to the senior team. It feels like everybody is on the same page for them but for us… We are not even reading the same book.

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By Matt

Matt is the owner and chief-editor of the Footy Blog, one of the UK's leading football news blogs.