Liam Brady believes that the culture of domestic club football continues to make ultimate success on the international stage an unlikely prospect for England.
“I don’t think our football produces technical players, so that’s really the challenge for the FA,” Brady said. “The facilities won’t change our players, but the way we play football will. The majority of games in England are battles. Now, people might say that’s English football, but it’s not going to win you World Cups or European Championships. It’s the FA and Premier League’s duty to ensure that the academies are doing things right, which is why we have the new Elite Player Performance Plan. It’s important because everybody’s standards are being raised but, if you want to play like Germans or the Spanish, then you need to change the culture of English football.”
The former Ireland international and former assistant to Giovanni Trapattoni has been in charge of youth development at Arsenal for 16 years, a position which allows him to speak with authority on other challenges facing the game in England — and which have obvious knock-on effects for Ireland’s international prospects.
“Fewer players come in from the local pool of talent,” he pointed out. “We’re battling against all the modern things that are around for teenagers, and we can suffer because they are less hungry as a result. On the plus side, the money spent on academies is phenomenal and the help that these kids get, to mould them into good professionals, is far superior to what it used to be. But, look, when I was growing up in Dublin, I played for a young boys’ club. We trained maybe once or twice a week and played on the weekend. When I wasn’t with the football club I would practise on my own because I didn’t have anything to keep me at home — we weren’t staying at home with a video game or on Facebook. That has been a negative for the pool of players that once existed in the British Isles and you can see why we have to broaden our scouting system to cope with that.”
In an interview with FourFourTwo, Brady was asked if, even when they were raw recruits at Arsenal, he’d been able to identify players he was absolutely sure would make it at the highest level.
“We knew with Ashley Cole and Jack Wilshere,” he replied. “I’m not surprised that Cole has played almost 100 times for England and Wilshere will go on to have the career he deserves, once he fully overcomes his injury. It was super when Wilshere picked up his first England cap, but it was also great for me to see Fabrice Muamba play in the Premier League for Bolton and Birmingham.”
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