Barnes blasts 'old' English mindset
John Barnes believes English football is stuck in the Dark Ages and would have struggled at the Under-21 European Championship even with the players they were denied.
The Young Lions became the first team to exit the competition following defeats to Italy and Norway. A key issue for Stuart Pearce's side has been the string of high-profile players made unavailable, with eligible players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck instead linking up with the senior side.
However, former England international Barnes does not believe their absence is behind the Young Lions' failure, insisting the issues run deeper than that. "We are not even producing enough players for the senior side, never mind the under-21s," he told talkSPORT.
"The way we're talking you would think we have under-21 superstars who are being plucked away from the under-21s and if they played they would win the under-21 championship. If we played our best players from the under-21s, I still don't think we would be good enough to win the under-21 championship. The players aren't there. They are not good enough.
"We still like this old British mentality of up-and-at them, get stuck in, because we are not comfortable keeping the ball if it is seemingly going nowhere.
"Spain don't keep the ball just for the sake of it, but in England we have this attitude that, if you are keeping the ball for 20 passes without getting over the halfway line, they are doing it for no reason. We have to change our philosophy and our mentality."
Aware of the need for progress, the Football Association opened St George's Park training complex last year - a structure seen as key to the future of English football.
"St George's Park and the infrastructure and the money they have spent has nothing to do with addressing the problem," Barnes said. "It has to do with the philosophy. You don't need a St George's Park to change the philosophy, you can do that in an open park. It is the culture we have to change, nothing to do with spending £50million on a structure."
Barnes is not the first high-profile figure to hit out at the English game over the course of the Under-21 European Championship.
Former England managers Glenn Hoddle, Graham Taylor and Steve McClaren have all expressed their concerns, while former defender Sol Campbell feels certain young stars have approached tournaments with an unhealthy sense of entitlement before they have achieved anything in the game.
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