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Lords lunch proves unpalatable for Brooking

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Mihir Bose | 18:37 UK time, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Did a lunch at the House of Lords a year ago sow the seeds for last week's public row over youth development in English football, a row so well chronicled by Radio 5 Live? If so, what might seem a small thing has had huge consequences.

Those sitting down to eat were Sir Trevor Brooking and Lord Mawhinney. The two could not be more important figures in the English game. Brooking is the Football Association's director of football. Mawhinney is chairman of the Football League. The latter, eager to discuss a problem that had been festering for more than a year, had been the one to issue the invitation.

Let me explain. Until 2006, Sport England was responsible for distributing the pot of money for youth development, to which various bodies, including the Premier League, the Professional Footballers' Association, the Football Foundation, the FA and Sport England, contributed.

For various reasons, Sport England and the PFA decided to pull out, which meant that, for the 2006/07 season, money for youth development was provided on an interim basis. By the autumn of 2007, however, it was clear a better solution was necessary. Unfortunately, finding one wasn't straightforward.

In the meantime, the Football League had set up the Football League Trust, arguing that their clubs provided enough financial resources of their own and should be in charge of their distribution. They still wanted the FA's money and were happy to allow a representative of the FA, as well as the Premier League and PFA, to have a seat on the Trust. But, while the Premier League and the PFA accepted, the FA spurned the opportunity.

Sir Trevor Brooking turned down the offer of a seat on the Trust

That is because when Brian Barwick, the then chief executive of the FA, suggested to Brooking that he should be the one to take the FA's seat, he refused. Brooking's point was that, as a solitary FA representative on the Trust, he could not "quality-control" the use of the FA's money. Would it really be going to developing players between the ages of five to 16, as he wanted, or diverted to the first-team needs of the Football League clubs?

At the subsequent lunch at the House of Lords, Mawhinney gave Brooking 20 minutes to explain his side of the story and then asked him to prepare a paper, no more than two pages in length, explaining what he wanted. A year later, Mawhinney has yet to receive the two-page document.

I have learned that Brooking did not put pen to paper because of a 48-hour deadline imposed on him. He felt he could not do justice to this complicated topic in that time. So, instead of building bridges, the lunch at the Palace of Westminster created a further divide between the two organisations.

In the year that has followed, the divide has only widened. There have been big changes at the FA following the Burns report and the arrival of Lord Triesman as the organisation's first independent chairman, an appointment made by a selection panel headed by Mawhinney.

Lord Mawhinney

Three weeks ago, Mawhinney led a Football League delegation to see Triesman and told him that the FA had not yet appointed a representative to the Football League Trust. Triesman was said to be appalled and remedied the situation by appointing Jonathan Hall, the FA's head of governance.

For Mawhinney, the Football League could do no more. For Brooking, this remains a matter of principle. How can the FA allow its money to be spent by someone else and not know where it is going? No other football federation does that.

The English situation is unique. Other leagues are not independent of their federations as leagues are in this country. Here, Victorian distaste for money meant the FA remained amateur, forcing the clubs to got it alone by forming the Football League.

In the 1990s, there was a chance to correct this when the bigger clubs went in search of more money and were allowed to form the Premier League by the FA. But, although the Premier League's first office was at the bottom of the stairs at the then FA headquarters in Lancaster Gate, it was soon clear that the child would outgrow the father.

Victories like that in Germany on Wednesday may make us believe that everything is fine in the English football garden, but the deeper problems of youth development have not suddenly gone away. Remember, 60 per cent of Premier League players come from overseas.

The problem with English football, and English sport in general, is that it has too many structures. It is the penalty of England having been the pioneers in sport.

The huge problem for English football is how to accommodate change in historic structures that are not amenable to change. The manufacturing industry did not manage it. English football cannot afford to fail.


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  • 1. At 8:44pm on 20 Nov 2008, giggsy11-90 wrote:

    1st post :P

    good article Mihir :)

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  • 2. At 9:19pm on 20 Nov 2008, GordonFlorida wrote:

    Surely the solution to this is obvious. There are far too many people involved in the upper tiers of football who sit like gods in ivory towers, handing down decisions, that affect the sport in major ways. Sir Trevor should surely have the respect of all, he has played the game at all levels right up to the national side, and has a reputation for being an ideal ambassador for the sport. The article states, Sir Trevor, would like some kind of assurance that the money would be used to develop youth soccer, which seems to be a very worthwile cause, however the politicos have other agendas, and can't or won't give that assurance. At a time when 60% of premier league players are from overseas, we desperately need a sustained and well financed youth system to ensure that we can still field a national team for years to come, rather than having to search birth records to hope that a foreign player has some kind of link to English nationality. As a lifelong Chelsea fan ( born in Chelsea too), if Sir Trevor was appointed Czar of all English football, I for one would applaud loudly.

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  • 3. At 9:59pm on 20 Nov 2008, gloucesterite21 wrote:

    A good article, Mr. Bose.

    How do we improve the overall standard football in this country (not just with youths)?

    Simple - we oust the numpties Triesman and Mawhiney. My neice knows more about football than those two and she's 3!

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  • 4. At 10:36pm on 20 Nov 2008, myfreedomforever wrote:

    Excellent blog Mihir ... And I must say, as an ex-Pat here in North America for the past 40 years, having come through Blackburn's 'B' and 'A" teams in the 60's and followed lemming-like others to the birth of the NASL, it's amazing the transformation in the game here. I'll bet anyone reading your blog can name at least 10 US players in the game in any one of the leagues in Britain and Europe (and perhaps not realizing the nationality of the players they name) ... to say nothing of other leagues around the world where American players are making an impact. Those of us who came in the early 70's laid the groundwork for the growth of the game in the US and Canada. Playing games before crowds of 3000+ in stadiums seating 40,000-50,000 was not very settling to say the least, but the beautiful game has certainly made inroads in the years since. MLS and the "made-for-soccer" stadiums springing up all over North America are testament enough to that fact, as is the growth of the game, and the subsequent development of the current stars who came through not an "Academy" organization, but through the many competitive high schools and colleges around the United States and Canada who have embraced soccer to the max. Trevor Brooking is right on point with his concern for the development of the young players in England. I can give you scores of examples of English players coming over here to colleges, having been recruited in England by astute scouts luring them to the promise of higher education and the opportunity to make it as a pro. Everton for instance have a presence here in Dallas, as do other teams around the US, so it behooves the FA and the Football League to LISTEN to Sir Trevor and not simply go through the polite process of asking his opinion for what's right or wrong with the game and then imperiously giving him 48 hours to come up with a two-page game plan. Competition for silverware is the obvious end result of any sporting endeavor, and England's lone World Cup triumph (and that already 42 years distant) should surely urge the game's leaders to a more urgent program than that currently in place. A guy named Jerry Jones arrived in Dallas in 1989, bought the Cowboys for $140 million and within 6 years won 3 Superbowls ... Now THAT'S a program. Keep plugging Sir Trevor.

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  • 5. At 11:06pm on 20 Nov 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    The millions (billions) wasted on the Olympics (a playground for posh people) could be used instead to develop youngsters in proper sports such as football, rugby, cricket, tennis, etc.

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  • 6. At 11:23pm on 20 Nov 2008, expelare wrote:

    Brian Mawhinney - a former minister who helped shape the NHS into its current administrative mess. Trevor Brooking - a uniquely gifted footballer who has demonstrated distinctive skill and excellence within the game. Who should be calling the shots? Curious that anyone should choose the man who is used to dealing with organisations for the sick and dying rather than the man with a passion for the future of the game. Hey-ho.

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  • 7. At 11:46pm on 20 Nov 2008, RedPoole wrote:

    It certainly appears that there are structural problems within our game and until these are rectified there will always be conflict.

    So much money in our game is going to the top teams and too little of this is going on developing young British players.

    We are now going down the road where managers are demanding compensation for injuries picked up by their players on international duty, this is the start of another dark issue in our game. Virtually every player in our game wants to play for their country, as a result of this maybe they should pay a small percentage of their salary to a fund that is run for the purpose of compensating teams who lose a player to long term injury as a result of injury picked up on international duty. Why should the FA pay? the players are not forced to play, they do it because they want to.

    This theme should also be adopted when it comes to paying for the development of our youngsters. Each club should be made to pay a % of income to an FA fund that is run soley for the development of youth outside of the main clubs yoith system. This fund should concentarte on the real grass roots of football, not just players, but coaches and especially referee's.

    The national team is doing well at the moment, but this should not be allowed to gloss over the fact that we have fewer and fewer English players coming through each year. Action needs to be taken now and that has to start at the top, too many jobs seem to be given for prestige rather than substance and results, until this is rectified we cant hope to progress the development of young talent in this country

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  • 8. At 11:59pm on 20 Nov 2008, bballchris wrote:

    Nice blog mihir, but some blame must be heaped upon barwicks shoulders. Since he took charge, football in england has become more like a circus every year.

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  • 9. At 05:03am on 21 Nov 2008, cgavin1 wrote:

    Brooking is given 48 hrs to prepare a finance report and rather than try and if neccessary ask for more time, he simply throws his rattle out the pram? Is he salaried or not? When you are getting paid, sometimes, you know, you have to do some work. If you can't be diplomatic and accomodate the demands of your employers, I'd sack you Trevor!

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  • 10. At 07:34am on 21 Nov 2008, mambo wrote:

    Re post #9

    cgavin1, If Brookings employer was the football league, or infact lord Mawhinney, then you might have a point, but as Brooking is employed by the senior organisation of the two (the FA), I suspect that Brooking treated the 48 hour ultimatum with due contempt.

    Mawhinney is a puppet to his premier league chairmen paymasters, who have nothing but personal financial gain as a motive.

    I suspect that even the mild mannered and patient Brooking is reaching the end of his tether with these self serving pen pushers.

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  • 11. At 08:10am on 21 Nov 2008, King-Dion wrote:

    Most football lovers would not have a problem if Sir Trevor Brooking was put in overall charge of the entire game. He is well liked and respected by most people and is a very popular, experienced and intelligent man. He must be very frustrated in his present predicament.

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  • 12. At 08:12am on 21 Nov 2008, BCChris wrote:

    Indeed a very thought provoking article Mr Bose. I for one was in favour of the Englishmen quota for the premier leage, where a minimum of 5 or so home grown players must be fielded by each club every game. But with all the 'equal rights' and proving that we are a nation that will give work to foreigners, i cannot ever see this quota being put into practice. There probably is no way to save English football in the long run, and youth development will flutter away over the years. It truely is a shame but i can't see anyone providing an ammountable solution

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  • 13. At 08:18am on 21 Nov 2008, Rocky57 wrote:

    Those who remember Mawhinney as a politician will recall an arrogant, narrow-minded man who could never see another point of view, & it appears little has changed.

    On the other hand, although Brooking is rightly held in respect because of his achievements in the game, am I the only one who finds him a little bland and lacking in dynamism? I feel confident the right man could tackle a pompous, self-serving opponent like Mawhinney, expose him and his like for what they are, and move this moribund situation on.

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  • 14. At 08:42am on 21 Nov 2008, homeoftheshoutingmen wrote:

    At last! Mihir! Something interesting! What a refreshing change! Thank you!!!

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  • 15. At 09:13am on 21 Nov 2008, SamsonSixsmith wrote:

    I'm no great fan of Brian Mahwinney the politician, but I do feel that he fights a good corner for the 72 Football League clubs.
    Clubs do develop young players and spend a fair amount of money on them. In this far corner of English football, both Darlington and particularly Hartlepool bring young players through. Pools have four (Brown, Sweeney, Foley and Robson) in their first team squad while Darlington have a couple on the fringe - although their manager is a greater fan of the short term loan market.
    Trevor Brooking should accept that the Football League clubs are the backbone of the game in this country and that for every mismanaged Leeds and Luton, there is a Crewe and Hartlepool who have a coherent policy for bringing through young players. It's expensive and can lead to relegations and disappointments, but in the long term it means that clubs are producing their own.
    Lyndon Johnson once said of a potentially dangerous opponent "I would rather have him in the tent and p****** outside, than outside the tent and p****** in" The FA need to be working with the League and Brookings refusal to work with the Football League is a real disappointment. It shows an inherent weakness in the FA which David Triesman appears to be addressing.
    Astute politicians like Triesman and Mahwinney will look for solutions and will offer compromises. Idealists like Brooking find them hard to deal with hence the current impasse.
    Excellent article by Mihir Bose. As always he explains a difficult situation lucidly. Thanks.

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  • 16. At 09:15am on 21 Nov 2008, spadge11 wrote:


    Yes, i am a Leeds fan..........

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  • 17. At 09:29am on 21 Nov 2008, spadge11 wrote:

    #15: agree with you on Leeds been mismanaged financially, but youth development???

    Recently Sepp Blatter singled out Leeds from the whole of England for the good work & investment in youth they have put in over the previous years - young players that have come into the squad recently throught Leeds' academy; Ben Parker, Jonny Howson, Aidy White, Jonny Webb & Fabian Delph who just made his England under 21 debut on Tuesday.

    Danny Rose & Tom Taiwo, ever heard of em? No? They were two promising Leeds players that Chelsea poached & havnt been heard of again, we got something like £100,000 compensation for them.

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  • 18. At 09:46am on 21 Nov 2008, SamsonSixsmith wrote:

    Leeds are at last bringing through their own but that is because of the financial problems caused by "chasing the dream". I am a Sunderland fan and it is pleasing to see Keane talking up the current crop of youngsters at the club.
    Middlesbrough are a great example of how to encourage young players while even the circus at SJP has some promising youngsters who might make Premier League footballers.
    The Premier League is a diferent creature to the Football League. Most FL clubs have to create a mix of experienced pros, youngsters released by PL clubs and their own. Far too many omit the third part of the equation while chasing their own version of glory.
    The FA oversees the game in this country and there are signs that it is modernising. Brooking is a well respected figure but he needs to be more active and become involved in discussions, no matter how distasteful he finds them.

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  • 19. At 09:59am on 21 Nov 2008, rustictaverner wrote:

    Re comment #10

    The idea of one organisation being in some way superior to another is exactly the problem.

    The people in charge all play at oneupmanship without considering what is good for the game.

    In many a job people have to find a way through the rocks with other people of different "ranks" - and at the end of the day the person who really wants to get the job done will work with lesser status for the good of the end result.

    These people should stop putting ego first and put football first for a change. All of them.

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  • 20. At 10:01am on 21 Nov 2008, Pirlo-vision wrote:

    Whilst money undoubtedly plays a huge part in youth development, one can't understate the importance of competent coaching. I doubt that the Brasilian, Argentine and European associations have as much money 'to burn' as their English equivalent but these nations constantly produce players who are as good as, if not better, than England's finest.

    Whenever I think of coaching in England, it takes me back to my school days when our (PE teacher) coach knew as much about tactics/technique as ourselves.

    For example, he wouldn't entrust me with a role in centre-midfield because he preferred to stick the two tallest, fittest lads in there so as not to be overpowered and allow long balls into our box. What he didn't realise was that these guys couldn't pass a ball two yards when in possession, leaving us with no option but to constantly work the flanks, which was exhausting to say the least.

    It wasn't until I was 16 that a coach told me to get my head up as soon as possible, move towards the ball and not wait for it etc etc... It was around the same age that I learned not to go square on against an opponent when defending. Youngsters in other countries are learning this stuff at the age of 8, 9 or 10.

    Yes, you can throw millions at youth development and hope it pays off (which it might) but it would be a lot better to look at the culture and playing style that breeds on the playing fields around the country and pinpoint the deficiencies that plague English kids.

    Alternatively, you could sit around a table enjoying your £200 lunch with Lord Mawhinney and end up going round in circles until you've achieved nothing more than a bit of indigestion.

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  • 21. At 10:01am on 21 Nov 2008, spadge11 wrote:

    Agree that some premiership clubs omit the youth players (especially english). But in fairness Leeds' youth development even when we were spending well beyond our means was still a shining light.

    Kewell, Lennon, Milner, Robinson, Woodgate, Smith & Harte are all testament to that.

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  • 22. At 10:28am on 21 Nov 2008, My Brazilname is "Seiano". wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 12:06pm on 21 Nov 2008, dmrichkt wrote:

    Liverpool,Chelsea,Manchester Utd,Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Juve, Roma, Barca, Real Madrid, Valencia, Lyons, Ajax, PSV, Munich, Celtic, Moscow, Porto. Now, that's a Premier league. How long before the big clubs ditch the FA,UEFA and FIFA and take football into the next era?

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  • 24. At 2:30pm on 21 Nov 2008, giveusbackourpoints wrote:

    An excellent and thought-provoking article.

    I'm not qualified to judge Mawhinney's aptitude for his role. I was a big fan of Brooking as a player (who wasn't?) and he seems a thoroughly decent chap but that does not necessarily make him qualified for such a big job. Is he able to be tough enough when required?

    The problem appears to me to be less to do with personalities and more to do with structure, as the article point out.

    Why do we need so many different levels? We don't. Why can't they work together? That's, sadly, human nature. It's not just salary but prestige, power and influence. Isn't that why Crozier got the boot, because he was in real danger of fixing this?

    It isn't even just England, though we seem to suffer more than most, but the FA seem to find it difficult to work with UEFA and FIFA.

    The amount of money in the modern game is amazing but it is a disgrace that so much is focussed on success this season at club level rather than the future of the game as a whole.

    Our national game has suffered as the Premier League has succeeded. How can it be anything else? It isn't just the number of foreign players in the English game. It is the number of English players managed by foreign managers who have no interest in their development at a national level.

    There is no way that can be fixed without breaking or changing EU employment law. However, finding a way to have just one governing body of the whole of English football would be a real step in the right direction.

    The problem is who and how and when?
    How does get this fixed? If only I knew!

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  • 25. At 2:42pm on 21 Nov 2008, cov1985 wrote:

    number 23.

    "Liverpool,Chelsea,Manchester Utd,Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Juve, Roma, Barca, Real Madrid, Valencia, Lyons, Ajax, PSV, Munich, Celtic, Moscow, Porto. Now, that's a Premier league."

    No, that's the Champion's League.

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  • 26. At 2:57pm on 21 Nov 2008, Alliterative hornet wrote:

    In his 5 years as the FA's Director of Football Development, what has Trevor Brooking actually achieved?

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  • 27. At 4:54pm on 21 Nov 2008, ronaldo_rocket wrote:

    Top notch blog! Hit the nail right on the head.

    The footballing industry clearly needs more of a common sense approach, enough big-wig talk, just get the job done, simple.

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  • 28. At 5:04pm on 21 Nov 2008, Sir T. Fireball wrote:

    Why is Trevor Brooking the lone voice in English football voicing concerns about footballing matters rather than business matters? Why don't we have people like Kevin Keegan, who set up his own 'Soccer Circus', and Glenn Hoddle, currently running his own academy for unwanted players, who are clearly interested in youth development and have a wealth of experience, not just domestically but abroad also, running the English game? Of course we need some people to look after the financial aspects, but why not have the experts as it were in charge, than a bunch of people with no experience of coaching?

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  • 29. At 6:10pm on 21 Nov 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    It is absurd that the quango responsible for the national teams (England, U-21s, youth teams), the football association, is seperate from the professional leagues (Premier and football league). This situation is anachronistic. It is the professional leagues should be responsible for the national teams.

    The FA is seperate from football. Its reason for existence is no longer valid, hasn't been valid for some time, and is becoming increasingly less valid every year. What does the FA actually own? In any other business they would be simply ignored.

    The professional clubs, from Chelsea to Rotherham, should jointly be administering football in England. The FA's tenure as the administrative body for football in England continues for as long as it is allowed to continue.

    Since the FA is disconnected from the professional game in England, should it be allowed to remain as members of both UEFA and FIFA?

    English club football has been hugely successful in Europe in recent years and it looks like that will continue. The national team may have had some success under a clever new manager but the long-term prospects are not promising. The England team needs to become the clubs' team, the team that represents the professional clubs in all four divisions.

    The FA should just simply whither and die - it has no use, no mandate, no point.

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  • 30. At 9:32pm on 21 Nov 2008, william harper wrote:

    yes the fa does have a point and a mandate, admitted it is irrelavent to a majority of people but from the lads and dads ,junior teams ,sunday leagues,county associations and the bottom of the football pyrimid upwards,all are affiliated to the fa.admittedly the county organizations do a tremendous ammount of work making sure that the thousands of matches go ahead each week,sorting out referees, fixture lists,disciplinaryhearings,cup competitions and the miriad of problems that occur throughout the season but it all comes under the umbrella of the football association.

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  • 31. At 05:42am on 22 Nov 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    Well, perhaps the FA should concentrate on amateur football and allow the England team to be run by the professionals.

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  • 32. At 10:00am on 22 Nov 2008, sirsamus123 wrote:

    indeed a very good article!!
    ive been reading these articles for a while and havnt yet expressed my opinion to any so i thought id make a start.

    Any way i completely agree with RedPoole... money should be taken from a players wage. Jeez they get paid enough as it is!!

    I also think they should introduce a few things that i think will help improve our youth coming up through the academies.

    1. To have a max of 5 foreign players starting each game. making 6 UK players having to play.. this will mean it will give younger players more oppurtunity to shine if say john terry, frank lampard, joe cole etc are all out injured one sunny english afternoon.

    2. Player wage capping of say 80k... i see know reason why players should be paid such an extortionate amount of money when clubs could use that money to either go to an FA youth fund or to developing there own academies.

    3. Teams like Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal should take responsibility of surrounding sunday junior league teams. Perhaps take a select few within a 10 mile radius of the club.
    They should send a Youth coach to each team they hav chosen to help develope skills etc and also a great way for talent spotting as the coach would have a direct link to the club that sent them out.

    4. Be gone with the January transfer window. However exciting it is to watch it does not do our sport any justice. just gives the likes of arsene wenger to go buy more french talent. in the summer a maximum of 30million should be allowed to spend. making the likes of kaka look even more expensive then he already may be. making clubs focus more on there youth.

    These are all ways in which i think will help the english game and could ultimately provide the players for the future England teams.

    and being from southampton it is nice to see Theo Walcott doing so well. That i do applaud Wenger for.

    Long live the beautiful game and lets hope the likes of Sir Trevor Brooking can make the impact they should be. We need passionate people to run the FA of such. Not people who mess up our health system.

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  • 33. At 10:06am on 22 Nov 2008, furiousStGeorge wrote:

    I think it's pretty clear the dinasours at the top of the FA need to be removed. They are more interested in keeping their positions within the FA than what is good for English football. The farce that still allows amateurs to have such a major say in what happens with the £millions that the FA makes every year has to be brought to an end.

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  • 34. At 02:19am on 23 Nov 2008, The_Toonster wrote:

    I feel less informed and more confused having read this article. How weird.

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  • 35. At 08:08am on 23 Nov 2008, yarmred wrote:

    Following on from a point sirsamus made. Middlesbrough's Academy work is well documented. What they have also done is form a link with the Teesside Junior Football Alliance League. It is one of the biggest in the UK and Europe. Any Teesside lads playing professional football have come through the TJFA. In the past some players, most notably Woodgate have slipped through the net. Now Boro help sponsor the league and they work with the league to ensure any talent comes their way first and introduced into the academy system from 7 years old onwards. Incentives to the youth football clubs of discounted match tickets also helps with attracting the next generation of Boro fans. When you have limited resources, developing local youth seems a no brainer. It was Bryan Robson who instigated Boro's set up and it took 10 years or so to start bearing fruit, it doesn't happen overnight and this is why we need to get an organised national programme as soon as possible..

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  • 36. At 4:52pm on 23 Nov 2008, DavidUnesco wrote:

    Toonster - agree mate. Badly written article. (again)

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  • 37. At 7:02pm on 23 Nov 2008, blueEl-Gordo wrote:

    I remember hearing Brian Clough describe Trevor Brooking thus:
    "He floats like a butterfly . . . and also stings like one."
    Some say Cloughie was an astute judge of character.

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  • 38. At 8:46pm on 23 Nov 2008, North Berwick Hammer wrote:

    #37. Cloughie said the butterfly quote in an article for The Sun the day before the 1980 FA Cup Final. I had a huge laugh when Sir Trev scored the winning goal and Ol' big 'ead (who was commentating with Brian Moore on ITV) couldn't believe it!

    One week after the final Cloughie was on Parkinson with Alf Garnett and Alf (Warren Mitchell of course) asked him why if he didn't rate him he'd tried to buy him in 1975. Cloughie said The Sun had made the quote up (unlike them I know) and he always thought Trevor a great player. So yes, he was an astute judge of character.

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  • 39. At 07:29am on 24 Nov 2008, SJC wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 40. At 10:46am on 24 Nov 2008, threapwhite wrote:

    Its a no brainer.....Brooking has had a long and distinguished career as a professional footballer, is highly respected by fans, managers, players and officials.
    Mawhinney has a long and undistinguished career has held various positions in parliament without great success and knows nothing about English football. He is not even English.

    I know who's opinion I would listen to.

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  • 41. At 1:03pm on 24 Nov 2008, Biscuiteater wrote:

    I must admit to getting a little frustrated with Sir Trevor Brooking. It is tough at the top. It is tougher to get your way among the 'suits' than it is on a football pitch.

    We see this every day. Pundits on screen and print, pontificating forth expertly on all manner of things. But that is only half the story. You need fighters, not quitters as Peter Mandleson would say. I cannot imagine for a second Mawhinney even trying to treat Mandleson like that. He will be eaten alive. Power does not relent easily, it needs intelligence, toughness and guille to mix it with these people and it is sad that Brooking is a bit light in the latter two.

    He is right on every aspect, as I see it anyway, but remains ineffectual in achieving any of it.

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  • 42. At 1:19pm on 24 Nov 2008, footy_analysis - play beautifully - wrote:

    I think part of the big problem of English football is that, over the years, there's been a hit and hope approach to the game. There's never really been a consciousness about playing with skill and technique at any age in this country as there has been in Brazil, for example.

    Therefore, when young players are at school, in the park, playing five a side or whatever the situation may be, they're not developing and honing their skills as young players would be in, I'll use the same example again again, Brazil.

    Certainly when I was at school, we were never told to express ourselves, never encouraged to develop skills and technique, we just played and winning was the name of the game.

    Therefore, those players who have been honing their skills from a very young age will catch the eye of Premiership managers and scouts.

    Add to all this the lack of funding to help players take their ability to another level and really we're in a no win situation.

    But I believe British football can be helped by generally changing the attitude of football. Develop skills and technique as soon as you start kicking a ball - worry bout the winning later. I think we are slowly beginning to think more like that.

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