Forget Barcelona, Bayern and Brazil; England Need to Copy Manchester United

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Forget Barcelona, Bayern and Brazil; England Need to Copy Manchester United

We've got to stop blaming the current England players for our bad performances. It's not James Milner's fault, or Steven Gerrard's fault, or Frank Lampard's fault. The blame lies with the administrators.

The FA has employed a procession of third-rate administrators to run a first-class organisation.

Finally we have change. Greg Dyke has the teeth and a track record, but he has to take on the Premier League, overhaul grassroots football and coaching, and tackle the directors of the big English clubs.

Regardless of Dyke's appointment, what we're sentenced to now is five years of struggle. England will limp across the line to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, we'll do the same for the Euros in France and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

People are always saying we need to follow the examples of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, but I think the answer is closer to home. The best example England could follow is that set by reigning Premier League champions Manchester United.

United promote youth. They've had a player raise through their system in the first team for every season since the 1930s. England should do the same—we need to trust the likes of Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha and put them in the starting lineup.

It's a mistake to think England should play tiki-taka like Barcelona. United always play with tempo, they move the ball quickly and they don't play long balls. They play with wingers and they approach home games with the swagger and confidence that England should.

"Attack, attack, attack" is the United way at Old Trafford. England should follow that lead at Wembley.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

In the same way Spain and Barcelona are variations on the same theme, as well as Bayern and Germany, England should look to United. The FA should mimic the fundamental traits at Old Trafford and allow that mindset to educate how we play. It's time to find out who we are again.

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For too long, England have had no discernible identity. Do we play long-ball, keep-ball, 4-4-2, with width, with a central defender who carries the ball out? The answer is we don't know, but we should.

What I'd suggest is putting together a brain trust of people with the right experience. Where better to start than Sir Alex Ferguson? He might be Scottish, but he'd surely be willing to offer his advice on the subject. I'd consult with Arsene Wenger, also, along with former players who've been there.

Gary Lineker would be on that list. I know he's been very critical of England recently, but it's only because he cares deeply—as I do. I know the value to this nation of England's football team being successful.

Instead of looking afar and trying to mimic the examples of other nations, it's time The FA identified a successful blueprint closer to home. Manchester United are that example. Somebody should get Ferguson on the phone immediately.

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