No risk, no reward.

It’s a quiet week so far as Arsenal are concerned so I’m going to have a stab at the international football scene,with an Arsenal perspective of course.

International football is insanely boring. It’s the same old passionless borefest that is plagued with worry of injury and where the club v country debate comes to the fore.

The thing is it didn’t used to be this way. I for one used to love watching England play, both in qualifying and at the big tournaments. What’s changed? I hear talk of the players caring less, fans caring less, the manager being shite. I think there are a couple of reasons. One of them being because we’re not as good as we’re used to be. Secondly as we have regressed/stayed still in an evolving world of football other nations have changed their styles, adapted their way of playing as well as nurtured their chosen identity of football style. Spain were a different animal a few years ago, which displayed a subtle change of style and evolution of their strengths. Holland, the Total football nation have thrived on a counter attacking style for the past 10 years which has seen them reach the World Cup final and semi final. Even Brazil have had to adapt having lost the core of their brilliance, yet their fans seem to care a whole lot more. Caring comes hand in hand with the hope of glory, which has all but evaporated as far as England are concerned. Gone is the age of the Golden Generation and we’re left with some talent but no real direction. Where does this come from?

I think that this is a butterfly effect problem. From a grass roots level of football, the young talent isn’t allowed to develop into its own identity. The kids of football today are told to play percentage football, risk free football which means to not lose first rather than to go out and win. This is a great mentality of developing defenders you would think, however when you look at what’s available for England at the back you can’t help but feel it’s not quite working. Gary Neville alluded to this last week when he mentioned the regression of defending in the Premier League costing England in the long run. This comes backdown to grass roots football. In Spain they don’t play 11 a-side football until their mid to late teens whereas it is thrust upon the youth of England far too early. As early as U12’s. When a kid tries to score a 30 yard screamer at the age of 11 or 12 as he sees the players of today do on the weekend, but fails what more can he do other than play percentage football. There’s a subtle art of honing the skills of precocious talent in youth of today and it feels like it’s being lost on us. That’s why we’ve not yet seen players like Ronaldinho, Messi, Ronaldo (both old and new), Zidane & Henry to name but a few. These guys were given the freedom at s young age to express their talent and then moulded into quite wonderful professional footballers.

The one English player that had a bit of flair was Joe Cole, but Mourinho beat that out of him pretty quickly and the ‘must not lose’ mentality was well and truly applied. This is one of the reason I really do quite enjoy about having Arsene Wenger as the boss. He may be accused of being tactically inept but he understands how footballers should be. They should be positive, want the ball, want to dictate play and want to win before they think about losing. This doesn’t always pan out for us but when it does work it’s quite electrifyingly fun to watch. I think that this not working 100% of the time is due to the personnel within the team rather than the manager himself (a point that he could have addressed this summer but that’s a whole other argument).

The core of English talent at the club right now could well benefit the national team in bringing a different mentality across the England set up. In 1-2 years time it’s quite likely that the England team will consist of Chambers, Gibbs, Wilshere, Walcott, Ox & Welbeck on a consistent basis meaning the influence of the aforementioned players will run through the team. While there aren’t any stand outs amongst them at the moment that are alongside the likes of Henry & Co mentioned above, they could well be moulded into something great in a few years. The man that is best placed to do that is Arsene Wenger. Who knows where he might be after 2 years but if the trophies keep coming then it’s very likely he’ll be with us. Not only winning things for us but saving the national team whilst he’s at it.

It’s time the FA started taking some risks and let flair players have their day from a young age. It might force us to change our perception of international football from the default position that is “THE INTERLULL”.

Onto All Things Arsenal FC. Quiet as we know but another MOTM performance from
Wilshere and 2 more goals for Welbeck signals a pretty good week for the Arsenal contingent with England. Here’s hoping that they along with rest of the Gooners on international duty stay injury free for the big one this Saturday. 3 points = progress. 1 point = nothing’s changed. 0 points = The #Wengerout brigade will be in full force. And let’s face it no one wants to see that.

To be clear whatever happens on the weekend I’ll never be a part of that brigade because he is the greatest manager the club has ever seen. To top that who the hell else is there to step in and do a better job?

Come On You Gunners!

Have a good week.

Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.

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