England doomed to failure

The Man In The Stands ENGLAND's football team is not very good. We have one good player in Steven Gerrard, and even he isn't looking that great. The only way that will change is if Premiership teams start fielding - and developing - more English players.

The Man In The Stands

ENGLAND's football team is not very good.

We have one good player in Steven Gerrard, and even he isn't looking that great.

The only way that will change is if Premiership teams start fielding - and developing - more English players.

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But that won't happen.

Premiership clubs are too rich and powerful to be dictated to by the FA, unlike in decades passed.

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Man U or Arsenal would deliver a swift two fingers up to any FA suit who said they had to field a certain number of English players in each team.

There was always going to be a negative pay-off for having the biggest and most lucrative league in the world, and England's failure is it.

The FA and the Premier League are no longer on the same hymn sheet - in fact they are no longer in the same church.

The set-up at Norwich sums up such a divide perfectly.

In the late 90s the FA told us we had sign up to a parochial academy system in order to develop young players properly. For a club outside the top-flight such a commitment was a huge strain on resources, and geographically very limiting in the players we could recruit, but we did it.

But what did the Premier League decide to do a few years later?

Yes, they took their bats and their balls and set up their own reserve league, leaving every academy outside the top flight to rot.

This means by the time our youngsters are ready to cut their teeth at senior level, they go from playing Spurs' youth team to Grays Reserves.

That's Grays RESERVES folks, hardly the best next step for a budding young player.

It's the sort of anomaly that would never happen in France, Germany or Holland, all of whom will take up their places at the European Championships next summer.

Still, as long as Man U are winning who cares eh? Jimmy Chou in Singapore is happy and that's what counts, screw Norwich, screw England.


GIVEN the circumstances of Darren Huckerby's recent suspension, The Man cannot be critical of him.

After all, on the fans' behalf, I had called on our players to let the **** know they had been in a battle, and to "leave them with some scars".

Hucks was merely following such a demand to the letter, it's just a shame he didn't do some real damage - certainly the merest contact that there was did not warrant Walters' subsequent theatrics.

But maybe next time we'll do him properly.

Anyway, what is clear is that we can ill afford another three-match ban to our best player. If we are going to scrap our way out of it, Hucks is going to play a central role. He may be as disappointed as the rest of us as about the descent of the club over the past three years - but as we all now know - our situation is all too desperate to wallow in that.

Now he just needs to keep his head down, and get on with trying to haul us out of this mess. If he gives it all he can muster, there's nothing more we can ask.


t MORE evidence of the bubonic effects of Peter Grant this week, as the club revealed rookie goalkeeper Steven Arnold would be on the bench.

Arnold's elevation to the first team follows a major injury to Gilks, and a decision by Peter the (Disa)pointer to let Joe Lewis and Paul Gallacher go out on loan deals that could not be reversed at short notice.

I know it's not good form to criticise someone in their absence - especially after PG left the club as soon as his rot set in - but he is fast emerging as one of THE worst managers this football club has ever had.

Roeder himself couldn't hide his anger at the goalkeeping crisis, saying: "I've found that situation very strange. Letting Joe Lewis go on a window-to-window when you can't call him back when he's your No3.

"The risk that you're taking that your No1 and No2 goalkeepers are not going to get injured is quite unbelievable."

Still, onwards and upwards.


THE BLAMELESS people of Liverpool FC have been at it again, continuing to airbrush any wrong-doing from their history.

This month it was the turn of the BBC to bow its head in shame and bow to the purity of those delightful Scousers.

The Beeb apologised after a character called Minty uttered the following line in Eastenders to a fellow character (Jase) who is a Liverpool fan: "Five years out of Europe because of Heysel, because they penned you lot in to stop you fighting on the pitch, and then what did we end up with - Hillsborough."

The script line prompted a huge protest from members of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, as well as Liverpool fans.

One fan branded it: "ignorant, ill-informed and without justification".

A BBC spokesman groveled: "Minty was actually reminding Jase that football hooliganism at Heysel led directly to the fencing-in of fans at football matches.

"He points out this had tragic consequences - for the innocent spectators at Hillsborough.

“The BBC apologises if this remark was misinterpreted or caused any offence."

The Man is glad that was cleared up.

But just to be sure - in case anyone is in doubt - Scouse revisionism dictates that Liverpool fans were not indulging in hooliganism at Heysel, and they most certainly did not contribute to the Hillsborough tragedy by turning up in their thousands without tickets after police had begged them not to.


THE MAN's residence recieved a phone call from the Carra this week, from some poor soul trying to shift those season ticket shirts.

The caller was enquiring as to whether The Man would like to avail himself of one of these controversial garments.

Sadly, I was not in to take the call, but one of my dedicated housestaff was kind enough to communicate that it was unlikely The Man would be buying one.

There is always a certain market for club leisurewear, and normally I'd back Andy Cullen, a cracking salesman, to be able to flog snow to the Eskimos, but damn this one must be a hard sell.

Still, it's good practice for the season ticket calls...

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