Date: 20th November 2013 at 11:49am
Written by:

With no Watford action to reflect upon, journalism student Billy Hawkins discusses England’s goalkeeping situation and a lack of national identity

With no Watford action to reflect upon, journalism student Billy Hawkins discusses England’s goalkeeping situation and a lack of national identity…

Normally my desire to watch England is slightly above the desire I have to die, so I had no qualms in working the evening of the game against Chile; a 1-0 win to England, ground out with a penalty securing the result, was expected. Therefore, I was thoroughly disappointed to miss the game when I discovered the result was a well deserved 2-0 victory to a remarkably cohesive Chile side; courtesy of ex-Udinese attacker Alexis Sanchez.

The big talking point in the run up to the match was the inclusion of Fraser Forster in goal, rather than the remarkably out-of-form Joe Hart, and his performance – the two goals conceded aside – was good enough to deserve another appearance in another meaningless friendly; much like the game with Germany – confirmed to be playing an understrength side – yet Roy Hodgson, in his infinite wisdom, has already confirmed the selection of Hart.

For the astute fan, patient enough to see through the goals conceded, Forster is the more logical choice; his command of the area, positioning and patience equal – if not exceed – that of Hart’s.

For all his faults, Hart is still the greater shot stopper – the mistakes Forster made involved the parrying of shots back into a threatening area rather than to the side – but a confident all-rounder not only improves the side technically – but also increases the confidence of the defenders in front of him.

It is no surprise to see Hart back in goal for the Germany game; the short-sightedness of English fans leaves a player outcast from one bad performance and a national hero from a good one – the examples of Jay Rodriguez and Andros Townsend seem apropos here.

Yet the negativity surrounding Forster conceding two goals seems to be emanating from a selection of the public unaware of the notion of Chile being a good side with an amazing sense of national style and identity.

Since Marcelo Bielsa – the footballing Wikipedia for hipsters – pioneered his 3-3-1-3 formation with them in the qualifying campaign – and then finals – of the 2010 World Cup, the Chilean side have played a strongly demanding pressing game, built on the belief that utilising players across many positions is more effective for the team as a unit.

Jorge Sampaoli has built upon this Dutch totaalvoetball
system, making Chile the in-from South American side, with a sense of style and identity which makes them fantastic to watch.

England have no such identity.

My frustrations have been documented before; the mind-numbing boredom, the egotistical self-belief, the sheer disdain between manager, player and fan. All these problems cause a loathing of national football from the thinking section of the public – the ones who see the need for change, but can not see it coming from anywhere.

In 1953, Hungary won 6-3 at Wembley, after, the press and players – in true English fashion – derided the Hungarian national team as amateurs.
The shock of this defeat caused the FA to review training and technical standards all across England, which led onto the 1966 World Cup, where a remarkably forward thinking manager led a tactically brilliant England side to victory.

We need a defeat like this again. Something that shows our inferiority.

It may hurt national pride, but it will help in the long run.


2 Replies to “Away From Home: Keeper questions remain”

  • Totally agree Billy ,look at germany 15-20 yrs ago they revamped everything from grass roots up with the notion of strengthening the national side . In England some small nudges have been made in the right direction in last couple of years , unfortunately not enough !
    To have a decent england side we need to follow and surpass the german model . In the days of self interested parties like the prem league this will not happen .

  • Also have to agree with Billy. I think we have a such a short-term view of everything in this country that we just end up trying to copy little bits from loads of teams or nations, regardless of whether they fit together or not. Southampton and Belgium are two particularly ‘hip’ sides in the world now and you hear about the F.A trying to discover their secrets – I thought the secret to the future was better coaches & therefore we have built St George’s Park?! We need a plan which we stick to and see through for 15-20 years, as you say, 1. If after 15-20 years we’re no better off, then it’ time to look at something else, not after 15-20 months!

Comments are closed.