Just over a week ago I made an attempt to document all the complaints against Arsenal in a comprehensive list of weaknesses. As I’d mentioned at that time, I did not agree with many items on the list but was compiling it for the sake of having a reference point.
Today I want to compare the English national team against that collection of gripes. Please don’t mistake it as a judgment on the English team. This is simply a comparison to see how many of those criticisms are applicable to the Three Lions.
I’ll start with the issues against the players
- Strikers (and others in general) are not clinical enough
- Club lacks a 20 goal a season striker
Over the years, England have had the likes of Shearer, Lineker, Wright, Rooney, and many others who have scored plenty of goals, at least at club level. I’d think the first two points are not valid as far as the English national team are concerned.
- Big stars were never replaced
The best players from the club teams get picked for the national side. This argument does not seem valid either.
- Players lack a winning mentality
Many of the players have won titles with their clubs.
- Players lack leadership
Critics of Arsenal often mention the likes of John Terry as the kind of leader Arsenal have been missing. Tony Adams and others have provided leadership through the years.
- Central defenders don’t command their area
Fans often say the Gunners need defenders like Tony Adams, Rio Ferdinand, Terry, and others.
- There is no organizer in the team
Similar argument as the points 5 and 6.
- Full-backs can’t cross
England have had an abundance of full backs who can cross
- Full-backs can’t block crosses
There have been many English full-backs who defended their flanks really well for their clubs.
- Very few players can attack balls put in the box
No shortage of such players in the England ranks
- Players can’t defend set-pieces
Often the national defenders are amongst the best in the league at defending set-pieces.
- Can’t defend long balls
Same argument as point 11
- Attacking set-pieces are wasted
The current national side has players like Young, Gerrard, Lampard, and others who can provide excellent delivery. In the box there are players like Terry who have scored many goals from set-pieces. Similar strength was available in the past.
- No consistent free-kick taker
Partially same as 13
- Club lacks a world class goalkeeper
From Seaman to Joe Hart, England have had plenty of highly rated goalkeepers. There might have been small patches where the Keepers were not as good.
- Don’t shoot from outside the box often enough
The Three Lions have almost always had a number of players who can score from outside the box and aren’t shy of shooting.
- Not physical (big,tall) enough for the Premier League
Hard to say this was ever applicable to the English side.
- Lack grit and determination
Well the argument is more like Arsenal lack English grit and determination.
- Some players are lazy
Aren’t English players supposed to be more industrious? There might have been some lazy ones though.
- Some players lack commitment
Do the English lads lack commitment while representing their country?
- Get injured on a regular basis
Hard to say whether this is valid or not about the national team.
- Cannot hold on to leads
Similar argument as point 5, 6, and 7. Players like Ferdinand and Terry are hailed as those who can help the team hold on to a lead.
- Cannot counter-attack at pace
Again, the national side does not lack players who can break at speed.
Now let us look at the criticisms levelled against Wenger and his staff
- Tactically – Anywhere from weak to utterly clueless
Are all those who have managed the English side tactically clueless? Looking at the resume of people like Capello this is hard to accept.
- Defensive coaching is poor
Can we comment on this aspect with regards to the national team?
- Playing style lacks balance
England have a wide variety of players available for selection. Does the national team lack balance and has lacked balance for years?
- Lack of a plan B
With people who can cross, those who can shoot from distance, clinical strikers, tall strikers, leaders, and those who can hold on to a lead, it’s hard to say England lack a plan B.
- Blind to obvious problems
How many English managers have been blind to the obvious problems?
- No/Poor training on attacking and defending set-pieces
I don’t really know enough to comment on this
- Reluctant to spend money
Irrelevant. Big stars are available for selection.
Hard to say so many English managers have been arrogant and stubborn.
- Gives ridiculous interviews/ Makes excuses
I haven’t really heard enough interviews to comment on this
- Rewards underperforming players
Don’t think this is applicable to the Three Lions
- Happy to finish fourth – lacks winning mentality
How many England managers have lacked winning mentality?
- Prefers tika-taka football and ignores the other needs of the team (many points mentioned under players)
Again, hard to say such an argument is applicable to the men who have managed the national side.
- No 2 and others are ‘Yes Men’
Same as 13 above.
- Medical staff cannot keep players injury free
I don’t think the national medical staff has that big a role as most of the players are treated by the club medics for majority of the season.
Apart from this list there were some suggestions from the readers
1. Not Enough English Players
2. Protects the French players/Foreigners
Can’t say these two are applicable to the national side
3. Wenger is inflexible with formation and approach
Have all England managers been inflexible?
4. Money being spent on Real Estate projects and not on the squad
Does not seems relevant in the context of the national side.
Now ask yourself a simple question. When was the last time England won anything of significance?
As a number of people didn’t get the point in the previous article, I want to emphasize that I am not trying to judge the English side or make fun of them. I am just analyzing their performances within the context of the weaknesses that Arsenal supposedly have.
My original list had 38 issues and if we add the four from the readers it gives us 42 separate points that people have used to criticize the Gunners. Very few, if any, of these are applicable to the Three Lions. Still the end result isn’t very different. What do you think is the reason?
Don’t take my word for it. I haven’t analyzed every point in detail. That would need a book not a blog post. Just think about it. The list is in front of you. Look back at England’s performances over the last few decades. Try and explain them.
As I said, I am not judging. I have some thoughts on the issue but will leave them for the next post as this one is already quite long. I am travelling for the next couple of days and after that we will have the Emirates Cup to talk about so I will return to this subject after that tournament.