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Mission Impossible Part 2

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 16/10/2000

The Premiership was supposed to deliver a strong and successful national side, but the failings of the system are there for all to see. Money is the root of all evil, and that is the major driving force in that league.

Relegation is disastrous, each final position further up the league means more income, and a top fifth or sixth place guarantees major money from European competitions. Too much for the managers and chairman to resist, so they all binge on buying foreign players for the short term rather than fill their sides with raw and inexperienced English talent.

Peter Risdale, Chairman of Leads Untidy, epitomises this role, they may have the odd Englishman amongst their ranks but there are many more foreigners in the side. What is damning is that he, Peter Risdale, is also a member of the FA's International Committee, the body responsible for all matters England team including the appointment of the coach. Rather than lead by example, it seems that he does not consider it any kind of patriotic duty for his club to develop and nurture English talent. So why should anyone else bother?

No one seems to be pointing the finger in his or the other club chairmen's direction for the performances of the English national side. Sure it will be argued that a select few make the grade at a Premiership club, but this limits the English coach's choice and reduces the size of the net into which talent is caught. I would go so far as to say that, in any case, there are not any outstanding players on an international scale even amongst the youngsters breaking into first team football in the Premier league.

Keegan has stated on numerous occasions those future England managers - sorry coaches - will be scouring the Nationwide League for the England squad and those times are approaching fast.

But the good news is that as the decline of the national team continues, football itself will return once more from the fat cat few to the genuine fans. Falling revenue will see the FA and the Premiership clubs finally taking notice that football is no longer 'trendy' and without a strong national team their pockets will no longer bulge with TV and advertising revenue. But by that time it will be too late, they will have paid the price for short-termism.

When that time comes, when football is no longer the couch potato's favourite blob and it no longer makes the small talk in the wine bars, English football will rise from the ashes. The day will come when the genuine fans save the overexposed game from extinction after it has been spat out and trashed by the masses.

Whatever the so-called football loving nation thinks about the nationality of the next English coach is by all accounts immaterial. The truth is the governing body and the country's major clubs have turned their back on the longer term. Even now the FA is more concerned at qualification for 2002 because failure to do so will mean losing millions of pounds. Perhaps Mr Personality Bypass Wilkinson is right when he says the FA should forget Japan and Korea and blood the youngsters! But it will not, there are too many pennies at stake!

Players will still be the same over paid, technically flawed mediocrity, so it will still be the most impossible job in the football world.

As a colleague of mine often reminds me "you can't shine a turd!"

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