The Football Ramble
Est 2007 - the most entertaining voice in football

The latest things going on in football tagged with `Premier-League`

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One thing is for sure. If England performed well and won an international football tournament, we as a country wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. As the team arrived home and strode down the steps of their official plane brandishing one of the few massive shiny trophies that Sergio Ramos hasn’t thrown under the wheels of a passing bus, we’d simply stare, our mouths hanging open as our minds frantically tried to rearrange the images into something recognisable.

It’s something of a relief then, that the chances of that happening in the near future are hovering at around the same level as the ambient temperature of the Uruguay dressing room right now and we can throw ourselves into the biennial inquest with significantly more gusto than any of our players demonstrated during the tournament.

The usual questions have been dusted off and are being presented in various iterations as we speak; why are England so consistently poor in major tournaments; why can’t English players translate their excellent domestic form for their country; why do they look so miserable all the time?

Why didn’t we just appoint Harry Redknapp?

england

In order to avoid desperate, recidivist measures such as the above and the same cycle kicking off again in late June 2016, we must look deeper than the simplistic “too many foreigners” in the game argument and drill down into the stuff we as a nation find deeply uncomfortable. This includes, but is not limited to, recognising we no longer own the game of football.

Other countries, upon realising that their national team was not performing as expected, have examined their systems and reset, sacrificing short term success  for long term progress. We sack managers and spend £120m on a sparkly new National Football Centre that our first team don’t use that often because it’s in the wrong place.

And that isn’t even the most annoying bit.

In his 2009 book, ‘Every Boy’s Dream’, Chris Green sets out the situation in plain, unvarnished terms. Having interviewed many people involved in the game, from parents of prospective talents to former heads of youth development at the FA, he concludes that inadequate training resources (including unqualified, inexperienced coaches), power struggles between the three governing bodies (the FA, the Football League and the Premier League), the trawling of pre-pubescent talent by Premier League academies and too much organised football are all contributory factors to England’s malaise.

The book, which is refreshingly accessible given the layers of bureaucracy and corporate aggrandising involved in the subject matter, explains how the inception of the Premier League not only slashed the funding available for training facilities in the lower tiers of football but increased competition for talent between financially secure clubs.  Despite rules being in place regarding the age a boy can be signed and the distance he is allowed to travel for training, Green describes how parents can become so dazzled by the opportunities available to a talented youngster that they will drive their kids hundreds of miles a week to play for twenty minutes. 

Unsurprisingly, the clubs show slightly less commitment when it comes to releasing them.

If you’ve heard former England right back and FA England Commission member Danny Mills’ summarising for BBC 5Live, you’ll have heard him mention a few of these ideas between throwing buckets of water at Chris Waddle. He has articulated the climate of fear within which young players must ply their trade; fear of ridicule, fear of making mistakes, fear of being dropped and losing their chance of a lucrative career in the most glamorous sport in the world.

Players look like they’re scared and under pressure while wearing an England shirt because they are.

Whether he’s read ‘Every Boy’s Dream’ or his personal experiences have contributed to his opinion, I can’t say, but in theory at least, it should be reassuring to have someone on the FA England Commission who is apparently aware of the scale of the task ahead if we’re ever going to truly be able to say we are be proud of our team. But while their recent report paid lip service to matters such as grassroots training and the prioritising of the Premier League over England, it’s perfectly clear that fundamental changes to football’s existing structure are not on the agenda.

Instead of reading that in an attempt to understand the deficiencies of the England national team, read ‘Every Boy’s Dream’. When you’re fully acquainted with the information that we’re supposed to believe was available to a writer but not those charged with improving football, you won’t feel any better but at least you’ll be a little clearer as to where the problem lies.

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By Kelly Welles

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Every Boy’s Dream is among several excellent football books published by Bloomsbury and available for 30% off during the World Cup. Check them out here.

Premier League, England, Chris Green, Every Boy's Dream, The FA, Football League, FA Commission

rooney
Image via thepeoplesperson.

There was a time when all that was required to stay in touch with top flight football was a radio. You’d tune in at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, listen to the game, hear the goals from around the grounds, then switch it off and do your normal life. You can still do that, but these days, unless you’re fully conversant with the height at which Andre Villas-Boas was hovering on the touchline during Spurs 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, you’re basically not a proper football fan.

We charged our intrepid correspondent with the task of following all the action, across all the formats, on the opening day of the season. She’s folded up in her desk drawer now, occasionally murmuring vague threats about becoming a golf correspondent, but we thought it only right to publish her notes in case she doesn’t wake up in time for Manchester City’s opening fixture vs. Newcastle tonight.

mignolet
Image: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe.

The quest began at 12.45pm and BT Sport, who as part of their superbly negotiated subscription package were offering the opening fixture of the season. Liverpool vs. Stoke City finished 1-0, the first time Liverpool have picked up three points on the first day in five seasons, but interest centred more on the exciting football pitch thing in BT Sport’s cavernous studio, presumably inspired by the infamous AstroTurf corner of Monday Night Football.

While the viewer wasn’t as nauseous as she was when Andy Gray used to rub his portly frame upon Richard Keys shiny suit in the guise of ‘demonstrating a tackle’ (not an isolated incident, it later turned out), the sight of several football types huddling in a darkened warehouse like nefarious criminals planning a drugs shipment still has bugger all to do with football. A bit like Michael Owen’s commentary style, which swerved dangerously through vacuous, skidded past insightful without a second look and eventually settled into comfortably tedious.

We’re not experts, but if your punditry is prompting people to switch off and self-harm, you’re almost certainly going to end up with fewer viewers than the competition.

arsene
Image: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe.

3pm arrives and we’re across Arsenal vs. Aston Villa on BBC Radio 5Live.  Arsenal’s failure to launch across the transfer market was the major talking point, the Gunners’ starting eleven looking suspiciously similar to the one whose tenacious grip on fourth spot was almost loosened for good last term by a vicious last minute kick from Gareth Bale’s sought after left foot.

Olivier Giroud’s sixth minute strike might have offered a glimmer of hope in less experienced environs, but nervous Arsenal fans have become suspicious of promising portents and a 1-0 lead at home on the first day of the season against a side over whom relegation cast long shadows last season will have induced the odd panic attack in the Clock End.
They were right, of course. Within fifteen minutes, it had all gone tits up. 5Live co-commentator John Hartson was exclaiming over a pelanty (seriously, is this a thing now, like Jamie Redknapp’s recently acknowledged bastardisation of ‘literally’?), Christian Benteke was scoring from the rebound, Laurent Koscielny was being sent off and Arsene’s hopes for a positive start lay in blackened, smoking ruins at the bottom of the table. Expect the specially extended bench coat to put in an appearance shortly.

Half an hour for Final Score and a mouthful of gruel and it’s over to familiar old Sky Sports for Swansea City vs. Manchester United.

For the first twenty minutes or so, Swansea City offered optimism to all non-United fans hoping that Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Wayne Rooney’s indecision and David Moyes appointment might have left a little dent in the club’s otherwise impenetrable armour. Michael Laudrup’s side were dominant in possession, the neat triangles and one touch football that has characterised their game over the past few seasons frequently leaving the United players swinging legs at empty air.

But the Red Devil’s customary imperiousness hasn’t retreated into the office upstairs with its master quite yet. Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck did the damage with a quick one-two against the run of play, and by the time the disgruntled one trundled out, the game was all but over. Wayne Rooney’s commitment to the cause wasn’t challenged by the fans who clapped him on, and he rewarded them with an assist, but his failure to celebrate with his team-mates was noted.

bruce
Steve Bruce. Looks like a ‘fat back’, apparently. Image via sport101.

Wayne needs some love, people. And when he’d finished greeting each and every person at Stamford Bridge like the old mates they were, Jose Mourinho used his post-comfortable 2-0 win over Hull City-match presser to blow him kisses. 

A horrifying image that finally finished off our plucky correspondent, whose vivid imagination does her no favours.

Highlight of the weekend: Robbie Savage complaining about Darren Fletcher’s insensitivity over his dog’s demise on 606.

Lowlight of the weekend: The unmitigated disaster that is Michael Owen’s in-game analysis. During his playing career, clubs found that best results were obtained by keeping him in the box. BT Sport may want to consider doing the same. They have enough room. 

Manchester United, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Jose Mourinho

Be honest, you’ve waited years for a rap about Emile Heskey. We all have. So imagine our delight when this dropped into our inbox this morning.

And all this from a man wearing a homemade Lady Gaga t-shirt as well! What’s not to like?

Listen out for the way he says ‘Leicester’, ‘Emile’ and ‘Birmingham’.

(Thanks to James Piercy and Michael Pannunzio for the heads up)

video, Premier League, Emile Heskey, A-League, Aston Villa

A Sunderland fan resorts to referring to results from 1908 (yes, that’s right, 104 years ago) to taunt rival Newcastle supporters.


The most beautiful part of all this though is undoubtedly that, in 1908/09, Newcastle United actually won the league. So he might be better off staying quiet anyway.

(thanks to the superb Taylor and Besty for the heads up)

video, Premier League, Newcastle, Sunderland

In the latest Ramble meets… Luke chatted to QPR defender and all round good egg Clint Hill about the dramatic end to last season, playing against the best players in the world and getting punched by irate Sheffield Wednesday fans.

video, Premier League, Queens Park Rangers, Ramble meets..., Clint Hill

Tremendous!

Put together by the very talented chaps over at Surrender Monkeys.

Premier League, Rooney, Nani

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