Follow It's Round and It's White on Facebook

Germany are not the solution to England's many problems

Thursday 23rd March 2017
England u21s are set to face their German counterparts. The contrasting squads show the differing footballing philosophies, and yet it would still be unwise to copy the European superpower.
The state of the English national team is a topic well worn within the football writing circles. You will hear, and read, and digest, and absorb the same old arguments: we need more experience; we need to blood more youngsters into the senior squad; we need to enact a quota on squad's in the Premier League; we need to keep youngsters in the u21s and youth levels for longer; we need to hire manager X.

While I am not here to say that one, none or all of these ideas are wise or foolish, I am here to contrast the English set up to that of Germany's. Now, you may think - after you've read this article - that this means that I believe that we should copy the German way. That, however, is not my point. Rewind just five years, and you would hear the same people calling for England to replicate Germany's infrastructure, spouting the greatness of Spain's assembly line of talent. Rewind another five years and it would be Brazil. Before that; France. Before that; Argentina. I assume you get my gist.

England should not attempt to copy other's methods of success. They must find their own. But that does not mean that the powers that be should not be exempt from criticism, especially when it is justified.

The England u21s, under the guidance of former Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd, take on their German counterparts this Saturday. Although the youth squads rarely boast the full slate of talent - James Ward-Prowse, Marcus Rashford, Timo Werner, Emre Can, Leroy Sane are all in their respective senior squads even though they are eligible for the youth level - it is often an incisive indicator as to the success of the country's development of their young talent.

Between the 23 men in the England u21 squad, they share 206 career Premier League appearances. The man with most of these is Jack Grealish with 34. He currently plies his trade in the Championship. Between the 24 men in the Germany u21 squad, they share an almighty 1,137 Bundesliga appearances. The man with most of these is Matthias Ginter with 129. If Grealish were to be German, he would be just 16th in terms of appearances in the highest domestic tier - for a more detailed breakdown of these numbers, you should head to this Twitter thread of Archie Rhind-Tutt.

They are rather startling numbers.
On June, 29th 2009, England and Germany met in the European under-21 Championship final. It was a massacre. The Germans won 4-0, obliterating their opponents in scintillating style. They were ruthless in the final third, fluid on the counter-attack and devastating in front of goal.

Of the 11 starters in 2009, five of them would start in their World Cup final triumph over Argentina just five years and 14 days later - Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Howedes and Mesut Ozil. Of the 11 starters that England fielded, perhaps the most successful has been James Milner - though an argument could be made for Theo Walcott. In fact, fans' worries before the game centred on the fitness of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Fraizer Campbell. Perhaps that tells you all you need to know.

England undoubtedly have an issue developing talent. Germany, on the other hand, are experts in the area. That, though, does not mean that the Three Lions should look to copy the methods of their Old Enemy. It is not as simple as cracking a formula. Football is a much more fluid and uncertain industry. England must find a structure that allows their players to flourish, rather than implement one that has worked elsewhere.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!

Total articles: 175

Latest Opinion Articles