Following on from England’s embarrassing exit from the European Championships at the hands of Iceland, fans and pundits have been quick to blame the “washbag generation” of pampered England stars who don’t have the fight. Jamie Carragher in his excellent Daily Mail column has talked of how young players today have become babies and today’s mentality strips them of the character needed to succeed. He went on to suggest English players today have it easy, they get driven everywhere, they get looked after by agents and it’s made them weak.
Ryan Giggs echoed these words in his first appearance on ITV during Euro 2016, saying that players are rewarded in football these days before they’ve even achieved anything. I can see why a tough, old-school characters like Carragher and Giggs shake their heads at the youth of today but come on, this cannot explain England’s struggles. Players weren’t pampered, self-obsessed millionaires in the 70’s and 80’s and England were dreadful. During the 70’s, England didn’t qualify for a single tournament in that era. Of seven tournaments between 1972 and 1984, England only qualified for two. Back then they were brought up as apprentices, cleaning boots and paying their dues just like Carragher and Giggs would have wanted and they performed worse than the England team of today. Sir Alf Ramsey failed to get England to three tournaments, were his team’s arrogant, spoilt, little babies?
The era of English football, where “men were real men”, produced precious few divas and prima donnas but they didn’t produce too many successful sides either. I dare say that money has turned many an England player greedy, only focused on the pounds signs and the next big move but let’s not forget that they can still play a bit. The problems affecting England have been there long before the big bucks came to town; what was wrong 40 years ago is still wrong now. It won’t be long before you see another cringing tweet by an England star of his latest fast car, mansion or magnum of champagne but let’s not pretend the culture of today’s stars has held the national team back.
No amount of selfies makes you misplace a pass or fluff a free kick. Why so many ex-players pine for an era when England would routinely fail to even qualify for tournaments is beyond me. Let’s stop pining for the good old days that, frankly, weren’t that good anyway.
Post by Charlie Tang, writer for BOTNBlog and ToughTackler