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Is Greg Dyke's England Commission Up To Scratch?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 1 year ago
Greg Dyke's England commission have only been at work a matter of weeks, as they set to resolve the many issues facing English football by the most bureaucratic methods possible, and it's already shrouded in controversy.

The new FA chief has already netted his first political own goal by adding Rio Ferdinand to his Three Lions fellowship after FA board member Heather Rabbats pointed out that the commission was entirely composed of white males. Hardly the image an FA-sponsored committee, undertaking the task of shaping the near and distant future of the national game, should be putting across amid the current racially sensitive climate in English football.

But that debate is for the pressure groups to continue raging over, and Peter Herbert to once again sink his unwelcomed and unrepresentative teeth into.

This article is more concerned as to whether a collection of Dyke's closest cronies, part-time TV pundits and old relics from the 1990s can actually resolve the footballing crisis the Three Lions currently find themselves in, which has seen them slump to 12th place in FIFA's international rankings and view qualification to the 2014 World Cup, out of a group that contained international 'heavyweights' such as San Marino, Moldova, Poland, Montenegro and Ukraine, as a cause for national celebration.

As you can probably tell already, I'm rather sceptical that Dyke's 10-man team contain the right mixture of expertise, experience, talent and creativity to produce a satisfying enough answer that will make the FA chairman's self-imposed target of winning the 2022 World Cup a realistic probability. Gary Lineker has already branded it as 'utterly useless'.

The MOTD host's point of view is certainly understandable; what can Danny Mills, a radio pundit, who spent most of his career kicking away at the shins of opposing wingers and only featured for England whenever Gary Neville was injured, actually offer a commission that's desperately trying to modernise the national game? He has neither the experience, nor the insight to do so, and as the Three Lions most-capped player, Peter Shilton recently asked; "What has he achieved to be in that position?"

The same goes to Howard Wilkinson, a former manager whose last successful tenure finished at Leeds United in 1996. And even back then, he was known for his adoration for long-ball football. He may be currently serving as Chairman of the League Managers association, and admittedly, he has a wealth of knowledge from brief spells in directorate roles at several lower league clubs, but this is the kind of English footballing institution the committee should be circumventing rather than including.

After that, you get the stiff-suited bureaucrats who decisively belong to the old guard - FA vice-Chairman Roger Burden and Football League chairman Greg Clarke, men who have mixed football with business with pleasure to get where they are today. Clarke has been on the scene since 2000, first becoming a member of the Leicester City board, and Burden has been with the FA since 1985.

What words of wisdom can these old relics actually offer the next generation of English footballers? Considering the Three Lions haven't won an international trophy in half a century, it seems incredibly unlikely that resolutions for England's future lie in its past.

But there are glimmers of hope for Dyke's commission. Glen Hoddle may be a favoured son of regimes past, but the former England manager is the closest thing this country has to a football philosopher, with a keen interest and sharp wit for experimental tactics and foreign, more technically based brands of football.

Dario Gradi too, is one of England's most effective producers of young talent, having overseen a continuous conveyor belt of home-grown players at Crewe over the last twenty years despite the obvious limitations of finance and resources, although there are concerns that the Alex director is now 72.

New additions Roy Hodgson and Rio Ferdinand also add some clout - who better to identify English football's most intrinsic flaws than the serving Three Lions boss, and along with PFA chairman Ritchie Humphreys, currently at Chesterfield, the Manchester United defender provides the perspective of the modern English player.

More important than the committee's composition however, remains the absentees. No representation of the Premier League is the glaring and disturbing elephant in the room. Serving PL chairman Anthony Fry rejected Dyke's offer of a place around the table, as did former Manchester United chief executive David Gill.

Dyke has certainly understands why - the Premier League has become the main scapegoat for the many problems the national game faces, and it's finance and tendency to favour cheaper, foreign talents is used as an excuse for the decline in quality of the most recent generation of England stars.

But achieving a healthier balance between maintaining the unparalleled quality of the English top flight and improving the successes of the national team will be an impossible task without any representation, influence or co-operation from the Premier League itself, although Dyke has been quick to remind the commission's critics that the Premier League will allow his team to access any research or statistics the top flight has cumulated over the years.
Yet there's a much less documented but equally as pivotal flaw in Dyke's commission set up, that I'm surprised nobody has commented on - no foreign expertise whatsoever.

The English are exceptionally arrogant when it comes to football. Just look at some of the claims made during the recent Adnan Janujaz debate. But with it now being nearly 50 years since England won the only international trophy their history, it's pretty obvious that the answers to the decline of the national team are not in this country. As Harry Redknapp bluntly put it recently; "We do not know how to play football. We just boot the ball up the pitch and it gets us nowhere."

With that in mind, surely it would make sense to include a foreign expert with a different footballing ethos. Perhaps someone involved with a generation of Spanish stars who have claimed two European Championships and a World Cup under Vincente Del Bosque, as well as dominating at club level with three Champions League titles at Barcelona in the last seven years.

Or maybe a member of the German clique who called for a complete overhaul of the national set-up in 2004 after Germany failed to make it out of the group stages of the European Championships that year. They are now reaping the rewards in the form of an illustrious cast of young, exciting German talents breaking through that are expected to make a name for themselves at the coming World Cup.

Or even a coach from Belgium, considering their current golden generation is taking the Premier League by storm whilst young English players are left by the wayside.

So what can a commission of FA veterans, 70 year-old former managers, radio pundits, bureaucrats and Roy Hodgson actually offer us come March-time, which is currently Dyke's loosely-planned deadline for his team's final findings.

Probably not a lot we don't already know - our players aren't good enough, our coaches aren't good enough, and the Premier League has become too powerful. What's more important is what they plan on doing about it. But if you're a firm believer that you can't teach old dogs new tricks, then you won't be pleasantly surprised.

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