Glenn Hoddle would be as good a choice as I can think of to take over from sacked England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce. Problem is, Glenn apparently would not consider the role unless the FA changed their rules to make it mandatory for all eligible players to report for duty, once free of responsibilities to the full national squad, as in Brazil recently. Much has been made of the absence of such players as our Under-21s failed miserably at the European Championships in Israel, slinking home after three defeats in three matches.
Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t think the presence of the lads who flew straight home after the friendly in Brazil would have made much difference to the Under-21 team’s chances because I don’t think they are top quality. Whether the raw talent just isn’t there or whether our Academy system is failing are two moot points and I will address the latter on this site in the near future. No-one has a better pedigree than Hoddle and he would be my choice to work with our best young players. But I feel even he would struggle to rase the bar with the crop currently at his disposal. The Germans, whose teams contested the Champions League final recently, have revealed they have had a 10-year plan. The Spanish won the Under-21 tournament in Israel last week and are champions of the world and Europe at senior and junior level. Clearly, in Germany and in Spain they are doing something right. Clearly, in England we are struggling.
I am not talking about producing superstars, like Spain’s Iniesta, and Xavi. Players like these are born, not produced. The Germans have brought through sufficient players of sufficient quality to stack their Bundesliga teams with home-grown talent, two of those teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund sweeping aside all opposition to reach the Champions League final. You don’t produce superstars. They arrive. But we must find a better way to bring on players who will be good enough to make the England team a force like it was in the dim and distant past. As I say, I will give my ideas on how to improve our system soon.