England National Team: 6 Reasons Why England Fails at Big Tournaments

Manny Otiko@@mannyotiko Contributor IIIAugust 21, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24: Ashley Young of England takes his penalty during the shoot out during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

With Euro 2012 now recent history, we have yet another tournament and another failure by the England national team. Here are a few reasons why the Three Lions continue to stumble.

The Premier League Is Too Physically Demanding

England usually starts every major tournament missing a few of their star players. The Premier League tears up players bodies so badly that they are always going into tournaments banged up.  A shorter season or a winter break could help alleviate this problem.

The Club vs. Country Row

Let's face it—many club managers are not big fans of international soccer. Arsene Wenger is openly disdainful of the international scene.

International games mean the FA gets to borrow their manpower and possibly send them back damaged. Now the managers have a big earner on the injury list, and he didn't even get injured playing for the team.

Managers always play the game of announcing that star players are injured before an international game. These same players make miraculous recoveries that enable them to play the next Saturday. 

There Are Too Many Foreigners in the Premier League

About 30 years ago, the best English talent could be drawn from the top teams in the then First Division. But several things happened that changed everything.

First, there was the EU, which allowed players to move and work freely in other countries. Then the Bosman ruling gave players additional freedom in contract negotiations, and then there was the advent of the pressure cooker of the Premiership.

Now managers are charged with putting out the best teams that money can buy, and that often means non-English players. People like Arsene Wenger are more concerned about turning out winning teams than developing talent for England.

The Club Game Is Bigger Than the International Game

UEFA's repackaging and branding of the Champions League has turned it into the biggest soccer spectacle in the world. And unlike the Euros or the World Cup, we don't have to wait every four years for a tournament.

With the Champions League, there is a new tournament every year. Players know this, so they are more focused on prolonging their professional careers so they can make it to big-money tournaments like the Champions League.

In addition, players' salaries now guarantee that many players become millionaires before they are 25. Now they have a huge financial investment in keeping themselves fit and maximizing their income. Playing international football is simply not worth the risk.

The British Press

The tabloid media often uses an international tournament to whip up jingoistic feelings and inflate the national team's chances.  England haven't won a trophy since 1966 (coming fourth or reaching the semifinals doesn't count), and there is a reason why.

In their current state, the Three Lions are simply not that good, if international soccer was the EPL, England would be Aston Villa, a mid-table club who tries hard but really have little chance of winning silverware.

Also, media pressure and resulting criticism of the players is a huge burden. I have read some player biographies where they go into tournaments predicting which players will be stitched up by the press if England fails. This happened to Chris Waddle, Gareth Southgate and David Beckham.

In his bio, Gary Neville remarked that he hadn't achieved much in his England career and questioned its worth. I think many players look at the pressure and the flak they receive from the press and say it's not worth the hassle.

English Players Can't Seem to Take Penalties

The FA needs to get some sports psychologists to come in and work with the Three Lions on penalties. England's long run of penalty-shootout losses is like a mill stone around the players' necks.

Players have learned to dread shootouts to the point that they already believe they are going to fail. A good sports psychologist will be able to help the players work on positive visualization and focusing on the moment, not their history.

The players also need to practice, practice, practice before tournaments. Pick a spot in the corner and hit it with all your might. Hours of practice should have players able to hit their spots. How hard is that to do?


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