Analysis: Why premier league is England’s route to World cup glory.

With the dust slowly settling on the 2014 FIFA world cup and people’s schedules going back to normal, it is time for most teams to summarize the reasons for their dismal world cup performance. At the top of that list for atleast a decade now, has been the English football team. Including  the golden generation that boasted a midfield featuring the likes of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, a strike force of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen and a defense that had John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole, the English team has never fared well at the biggest stage of them all. The big name stars have never been able to play to each other’s strengths and adapt to a kind of play that would bring out the best in them. Multiple managers, themselves big names, Sven Eriksson, Fabio Capello and now Roy Hodgson, haven’t changed the team’s fortune much. Different combinations of midfielders, striker and defenders, all big names, hasn’t helped either. What then, is the real reason for England’s continually dismal run at the world cup?

The English Premier League.

Yes. Over the last decade or so, the premier league has been one of the most attractive, lucrative leagues in Europe, and indeed the world. Then why fault it for England’s miseries?
The answer, lies in the success of the league itself. The premier league has thrived far too long on foreign players lighting up the league. Neither the league nor the clubs in it have paid much attention to youth academies. Club owners looking for instant success rely instead on bringing in big name players from foreign leagues to deliver the results. Patience, has never been a word too often used in the premier league.  While the emergence of these foreign players has led to great advertisement for the league and in lots of success for the clubs, it has resulted in locally bred talent not getting the kind of exposure they need.
Since Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and co, the big clubs have produced only a handful players worthy of playing regularly on the big stage. More recently, smaller clubs like Southampton, who can’t afford the big players, have looked inwards and discovered the likes of Lallana and Shaw. Yet, these are players who have no experience playing under the pressure of expectations and standards of the big clubs and so, find it harder to make an impact at the international level. Given time, they will carry England forward. But more of their kind must be bred.

Look at the most recent winners of the world cup. Germany this time and Spain in 2010. When Spain were crowned champions, spanish clubs like barcelona and Real madrid were at the top of their games with spanish talent (with the exception of Messi and Ronaldo) driving them. Take Germany for instance, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have proved their worth and the quality of the German youngsters they have in recent years. It is no coincidence the national team’s fortunes have been so closely linked to the emphasis on youth development at the league level.

That, in itself makes a case for the premier league and the English FA to give more emphasis to local talent. Probably provide incentives to teams that have youth development programs and take in young English players from the academies into the main teams. For a start, having a mini league for the reserves and youth team and providing more coverage to the youth FA cup and so on will do them a world of good.
Hopefully, by Russia 2018, England will have a squad developed and bred at the highest level and they will fare better than their star-studded predecessors. 

Chelsea-Blue days

 It’s that time of the year again, is’nt it ? When one club is ahead of everyone else by a mile , one club is going through a slump another club , after a horrible start to the season , is making amends and is crawling up the table and then the others are , well, they’re just there as usual . Last year it was united ahead of everyone , today it’s city . Last year chelsea was going through a hopeless patch , today , well it’s chelsea again . Last year liverpool looked good for relegation till a certain king kenny turned it around for them , today arsenal are in that position with RVP single-handedly carrying them through !

Arsenal’s fate is in RVP’s hands , clearly . THAT is a story no one needs to tell . It’s going to play itself out in a rather bland way . RVP’s going to ,at some point, lose that lovely form to a certain extent and Arsenal will book a hotel in london and probably help with preparations for the olympics . I mean , what else will they have to do next year if they don’t make it through to a champion’s league spot ? And the premier league . Well they seem to like turning up late for that too so they might as well finish with the olympics and comeback !

Chelsea , on the other hand , don’t look like they’ll have such a simple storyline . The twists and turns hardly look like they are finished . Hopefully the twists remaining are good ones and we’ll all have a happy ending .
Frankly , Chelsea can turn around their fortunes pretty easily . You just need the attackers in sync with the midfielders and scoring lots of goals and the defenders supporting the midfielders and at the same time blocking off opposition strikers and Cech keeping cleansheets and carrying on the batman act  (complete with an intimidating ,yet good looking face mask ! ) !

Yes . I have mastered the art of stating the obvious !

The reason for chelsea’s slump last year was tired legs . Most players returning from the worldcup with injuries and the rest who survived that were too tired to hold the ship steady . That chelsea finished a very close second last year was no surprise for once the players were back to full fitness , there was hardly any opposition good enough to stop them .
This year’s “excuse” is somewhat mysterious . The Age factor keeps popping up but I don’t really feel that chelsea , with it’s current squad , is being held back by the seniors . The overall pace of passing is slow and that has been a trait that has crept in in recent years not neccessarily because of the seniors.
AVB’s tactics have not been at fault either . The one thing you could blame has been , in AVB’s words , the finer details . Composure in both the penalty boxes , concentration in the last 5-6 minutes of either half , communication gaps and stuff like that .
The number of penalties and red cards we have conceded this year is shocking to say the least . And the number of occassions when possession has been lost on the edge of the penalty area at the other end has been equally shocking .
In the last 5 games , goals conceded in the last 5 minutes of the game has cost us dearly . Keeping a cool head , standing your ground for those last 5 minutes , things that the chelsea defence has done so well ,so effortlessly in recent times , suddenly seems to be a herculean task .

This premiership race is only 12 games old so don’t make the mistake of writing anyone off . Not even arsenal and specifically not chelsea . Should the transfer window make useful additions , that’ll just be great but even without that , this is a race that chelsea can still win without breaking sweat . But that , only if AVB drills those small details into everyone’s heads . Only if the crowd keeps the support going and gives the team confidence ( which they are lacking severely now ) .

Talk of RA firing AVB this early in the season is absurd . The man might change managers more often than they raise petrol prices here in India , but he has given every manager atleast one season to prove their worth. I doubt if he’ll change that policy here . The man’s strict but he’s not dumb .

The chelsea vs Wolves game is about to begin and hopefully , this will be the begining of the turnaround !
I’ll take your leave now and go settle in front of the TV for the next hour and a half ! Ciao !


Let the Games Begin !!

It’s a new season and as always the expectations are huge ! Andre Villas Boas working with a team identical to the one under Carlo Ancelotti , has made clear that he intends to win and win big . Oriol Romeu and Romelu Lukaku will be great additions to the squad and if Modric makes the move chelsea will definitely be right up among the top three on paper . But , games , seasons and trophies are not won on paper ( Real Madrid , the biggest examples of that statement ) .

The season opener against Stoke city has just ended 0-0 but that’s hardly any cause for worry for AVB . On the contrary ,
he’ll find a lot of positives emerging out of this one. The largest of which being the return to form of Fernando Torres . Yes . He is at chelsea , incase you forgot ! Looking focused , having fun , dementing the stoke defenders and coming close to scoring on a number of occassions. Ramires too looked sharp and the little we saw of Drogba indicated he was hungry for goals and ready to go for the season ahead . The other positive came  in the last 15 minutes or so when we saw what many pundits and experts said would not happen , actually happened . That strike trio of chelsea Anelka , Torres and Drogba playing in the same squad and blending in seamlessly !

A poor first half was followed by a spirited second . AVB’s half time talk clearly worked and the final score justified the game not because Stoke played exceedingly well but because chelsea had two very contrasting halves . That being said , Stoke did put in a good first half performance but chelsea were just too good for them in the second .

20th August , Saturday , Stamford Bridge will come to life again when we host West Brom !

AVB , just to make a point to the other teams , put out the most attacking team he can !

Mr AVB , If you are reading this , Here’s what I would love to see !

Starting 11 : Torres,Anelka,Drogba,Benayoun,Lampard,Ramires,Ashley,Terry,Ivanovic,Luiz ( if fit , else Bosingwa ) ,Cech(GK)
Subs : Hilario(GK), Bosingwa ( If luiz is fit ) , Sturridge, Mikel ,Mceachran