Huddled in a darkened, smoky room in North London under the shadow of the Wembley arch, Greg Dyke, Roy Hodgson, Rio Ferdinand and Glenn Hoddle along with a select number of other such esteemed individuals as, Chesterfield striker Ritchie Humphreys and Danny Mills, are deliberating and pontificating as to why England haven’t won a major trophy for almost half a century and what, exactly, we can all do about it.
Highly commendable and arguably necessary with sentiments and intentions that are absolutely spot on. Sirs, we salute you. May your endeavours lead to long waited glory. My question, however, is this.
“Don’t we already know the answer?”
Without the benefit of help from a think tank of nine or ten professional and ex-professional footballers as well as other educated and enlightened persons or EVEN a sneaky glance into my crystal ball, I suggest Dykes Commission will draw the following conclusions (stop me if you’ve heard this one?):
Coaching at grass roots level is inferior to that in other countries.
Facilities at which to play and practice football are not generally as good, or as readily available, as in other countries.
The money in the Premiership and necessity for instant success blocks the route into first teams for young English players.
Generally, as a nation, and certainly at International level, we play a style of football at least 30 years out of date.
We don’t pass a football particularly well.
Cost of the commission
I asked the FA for the financial cost of the commission but they have as yet declined to comment. I would suggest it will be more than the cost of a few 3G pitches and a couple of hundred FA coaching courses. Money well spent I am sure.
I’d like to make a suggestion.
That we just crack on with solving the problems every football fan in England is already aware of rather than waiting for the Commission to publish findings we already know they will find.
With the globalisation of the game becoming more and more apparent with every passing FIFA competition, England are in danger of getting lost in a crowd of other enthusiastic try-hards. Where England previously need only worry about the usual suspects of Brazil, Germany, Italy and the like, they now nervously eye a qualification group if it contains a Montenegro, a Poland or, God forbid, a Croatia.
While England are struggling to play catch up, other nations are simply continuing on their program of self improvement and maintaining the gap between themselves and the country that gave them the game in the first place.
With the implementation of every scheme and initiative resulting from Dykes commission, expectation will inevitably increase and no doubt cripple another unfortunate group of England players as it did it’s ‘Golden Generation’ of Becks and pals.
In Scotland, finances are tighter than for their wealthy cousins in the English Premier League and Scottish clubs are forced to blood their academy graduates. Hibernian, currently 7th in the SPL, proudly list 44 graduations from academy to first team over the last decade or so. Everton, sitting 7th in the EPL, list exactly HALF this number over a similar period.
With a growing list of experienced home grown players from which to choose and a fraction of the pressure and expectation on a resurgent Scottish national side under the stewardship of Gordon Strachan, Scotland are far better placed and likely to pull off a surprise tournament win than their rivals south of Hadrians Wall. Not believable? Please see ‘Greece and Denmark’.
2026 World Cup Final:
Croatia 0 Scotland 3
n.b. England lose in the quarter final on penalties to Papua New Guinea.