Joey Barton was given an audience on Thursday, so he made the most of his platform by slamming the England football team, the current FA setup and even Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching ability.
Barton spoke at the Leaders in Sport summit, in which he addressed fears over the future of English football. In his eyes, the country has too many managers and not enough individuals capable of improving players.
Rik Sharma of the Daily Mail provides the quotes:
We rate managers but we don't rate coaches in this country. I don't mean to disrespect Sir Alex Ferguson—he was a great manager but he couldn't put on a coaching session to save his life.
He couldn't even put out the cones. There is a big difference between a coach and a manager.
Barton has made just a solitary England appearance during his career, a fact he has publicly criticised in the past. Ahead of Euro 2012, Barton declared, per BBC Sport: “On ability I walk into the squad, on behaviour I don't.”
The Queens Park Rangers man has always spoken his mind when it comes to England, and he is clearly not impressed with the FA Commission—set up to develop the nation’s talent—under Greg Dyke.
Sharma provides the quotes:
The English national team are sh*t. What's the point of this commission? It's quite a smart move if you're Greg Dyke because you've got eight other people in front of you when we fail at the next World Cup and it's a smart move from the Premier League to isolate themselves from it.
The future of English football has been under the spotlight this week after Jack Wilshere questioned the revelation, made by Roy Hodgson on BBC’s Match of the Day programme, that the FA will investigate the possibility of securing Adnan Januzaj’s loyalty to England.
Wilshere claimed only English players should play for England, per BBC Sport, and the subsequent debate over his comments has only served to highlight the nation’s shortage of genuine talent.
Barton insists the problem is not a lack of quality at youth level, but rather a dearth of opportunity at Premier League level. Due to high numbers of foreign players in England, he says the opportunity is not there for young stars to develop.
We need more English players playing football, not this Academy sh*t. It's non-football. It does not prepare you for real football when there are mortgages and livelihoods on the line. There's no devilment in it.
There is some truth to Barton’s claim. A recent BBC Sport report revealed only 32.26 percent of Premier League playing time is filled by British players. Clearly that limits the window for England to find the next Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney.
However, Barton’s greater point surrounds coaching. The culture of English football favours physical prowess and endeavour over technical excellence, which often gets highlighted at world level when the likes of Andrea Pirlo stand head and shoulders above the Three Lions—as he did at Euro 2012.
England struggle to retain possession and are not comfortable on the ball—compared to Spain, Germany, Brazil, Italy and even several "lesser" nations.
Undoubtedly the Premier League requires change to allow more homegrown players to develop. The likes of a Jamie Carragher, for instance, took years to blossom at Liverpool and would arguably not get the same time in today’s football.
However, the level of talent being produced in England is clearly declining. One only has to compare today’s U21 side with that of 15 years ago to see the difference.
Where once there were the likes of Gerrard, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard emerging, Gareth Southgate now has Harry Kane, Ravel Morrison and Wilfried Zaha—none of whom are starring for top clubs.
Those who do enjoy a spell of success of the top level, such as Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling, are instantly promoted to the full national side, often long before they are ready.