Listening to Chris Waddle has given me more motivation that we have to take action to save our game. He vented his concerns over the Premier League and the impact. Well, is it right then that its the Premier League also now controlling football development in this country?
He mentioned selection issues like balance, the media and their damming role. He said we don't know how to win football matches. Were not organised and set up correctly with balance of flare players. He said its always the future and never now. I agree with Chris and admire his ability to speak up. So, is the reason he doesn't have a really important football job? Has he not completed the FA Youth module? Maybe like all those in the past that spoke up, Brian Clough etc, he is ignored because hes not a nodding dog hypnotised by the system. But if we don't urgently get someone like Chris Waddle, in his own words "We will never, ever learn". We need to fight for his inclusion in our game now and find a way to make people listen because if we do not address it we will be nowhere in 2016, 2018 and 2012. (In another 10 years, the time frame all the key change makers gave themselves for results), we will realise they were again, wrong. Then we put another ethos and strategy in place for another 10 years? Or do we all stop the self job preservation, the bull and ask ourselves the questions now? not tomorrow, now!
Manifesto for change
I invite Chris and anyone else to start an independent task force / commission, away from the FA, away from the Premier League and away from the clubs. The FA set up its infamous FA Commission but the problem is, its hosted by the FA. What if they are part of the problem?
We should urgently meet to share our experiences bottom up. It should contain key people that have experience in five key areas. This would be the manifesto for change that will get us back to semi-finals, finals and with a trophy back in our hands. We could add to or amend this, but I propose...
1. Grass Roots Football & Schools
- Many good things already happened. Retreat line, team size, removal of leagues etc. Is it working?
- What is the level/standard of the coaches?
- Does the Youth Module work? Are coaches doing it?
- Do they feel important in their roles?
- What is their relationship with clubs and scouts?
- What are the pitches and facilities like?
- How do they feel about losing players to development centres?
- Is there a social change meaning computer gaming etc has a negative impact?
- What are the other challenge/concerns?
2. Recruitment & Talent ID including the development pathway & development centre's
- What is the relationship like with local clubs and the pro clubs they interface with?
- Are there too many players in the 'trawler net' playing wooden unrealistic football?
- What affect does development centres have on grass roots clubs?
- Should more kids be playing grass roots and school games? Or other sports?
- How are we identifying talent?
- Are we filling our elite academies with the right balance of player?
- Does discrimination take place in recruitment?
- Are players recruited to suit scouts bonus/reports over ability?
3. Academy football. Experience of EPPP Implementation & the impact 8-16 years.
- Standard of coaching, what is the experience of coaches at all levels?
- What is the impact of EPPP, is it working?
- What is the affect on all levels? Looking at 1-4 level clubs?
- Are we placing too much pressure on the players with time & travel commitments?
- Do players enjoy academy football? Have many left because they don't?
- Can coaches afford to work in youth elite football?
- How is EPPP funds spent? What is the distribution including salaries?
- Is EPPP aligning to school learning methods working?
- Does regular player reporting with parent meetings like education work?
- Are we taking full responsibility for implications of taking children out of school?
- With such poor successful percentage of players making pro, are we right to knowingly detrimentally affect their education? What can be done to change this?
- What sort of player will EPPP ultimately produce?
- What changes can we add to EPPP to make it a better place for all and improve our players chances?
4. Scholar to Pro phase.
- Does the current structure work?
- What is standard of coaching in this phase?
- Are players learning game management, ways to win and how to win?
- If league 3 is not the answer, what is? Or is it?
- Does the loan system work or should it be exploited more?
- Should players be playing at competitive level sooner?
- Does the international structure work to prepare full internationals?
- Does EPPP make our players tough enough, or give them excuses for under achievement & performance?
- Would a return to competitive reserve football work?
- What would be the ideal pathway for success for England?
- Does the selection process work?
- Who is coaching the younger players U16 upwards? Are those players preparing for reality of a world tournament?
- What do the younger age group players think of the coaching and development?
- Who is identifying the younger talent for England? What is the criteria?
- What affect does the media have on an England campaign?
- What can be done to the Premier League to enable its international appeal but still protect the country it resides in?
- How to win a tournament again, NOW & in the future.
Who can join? Anyone should be able to request to join but they must have key experience in at least one of the five areas. They may also be working in the environments but are concerned about what's happening
Who cannot join?
Anyone in the media, the FA or the Premier League. I have been inviting them for discussions for many months and they didn't want to talk. Now this should be independent of their input and influence in the 1st phase.
The process would look something like:-
Phase 1 - Election
We should meet to elect in a strategy for change board based on their experience. This could contain 10 members with all areas covered as much as possible. I would put myself forward to be elected based on long open concerns and sacrificing my job over them. I have key experience in area's 1,2 & 3.
We should elect a vice and chairman. I would nominate Chris Waddle as chairman.
Phase 2 - Discussion "Warts en all"
Lets get all the issues on the table. This should be frank, honest and open. No more cover ups. As part of this we would carry out research days where we would gather information from outside people. Players, parents, coaches, staff. Everyone should feel they have a voice and could also choose to remain anonymous if they fear their job. Then we would decide what the real key ones are that need to be addressed. Each of the 5 areas should be covered separately but then linked up for obvious reasons.
Phase 3 - Solutions
We should draught a document and then present it to the FA. At this point the media should be included and everything should be in the open. We would like to meet the FA key member's to openly present and discuss them and see what realistic components can be implemented. Before its too late.
We would require an organisation to fund this process in terms of costs and logistics. Perhaps we could have some offers from one that is equally concerned about our game. However, I strongly feel it should actually be funded by the FA. Would they be brave enough to actually fund the action group to uncover the true feelings of its own football community? Many changes have already happened and Ive said before, much of EPPP is very good. But there are rotten core issues that need addressing. I feel alienated by the FA for having the balls to say what I thought was wrong. But as Greg Dyke said to the FA, "Its time for FIFA to stop attacking the messenger and instead consider and understand the message.”