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Jamie Carragher Has Really Taken The Knife To English Football's Problems

Jamie Carragher Has Really Taken The Knife To English Football's Problems
Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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Day 2 and the fallout continues. The English football population has had time to take stock, compose their words and pen a column or two in today's daily newspapers. Chief among such columns is Jamie Carragher. The former Liverpool centre back is always a a rather entertaining voice when it comes to the English game and now that it's all on fire, there's no reason to expect that to change.

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Writing in the Daily Mail, Carragher was understandably scathing in his criticism of the system which has led to yet another English failure on the biggest stage. While much of the criticism has been aimed at Roy Hodgson and his supposed lack of leadership and/or tactical nous, Carragher has instead taken aim at the pampered system which England has created in the false hope of creating the next golden generation. Rather than well adjusted, talented footballers being produced, it's a system which, according to Carragher, spits out 'babies'.

I call them the Academy Generation because they have come through in an era when footballers have never had more time being coached. At this point I want to make it clear I am not pointing the finger at academy coaches, as others will do.

But they get ferried to football schools, they work on immaculate pitches, play in pristine training gear every day and everything is done to ensure all they have to do is focus on football. We think we are making them men but actually we are creating babies.

Life has been too easy. They have been pampered from a young age, had money thrown at them and, when things have gone wrong, they have been told it is never their fault. Some 12- and 13-year-olds have agents now. Why?


Carragher is certainly not the first to bemoan the lack of street footballers these days, Eamon Dunphy has been riding that train for quite a while now. However, that's not to say he doesn't have a point, particularly in relation to English football at this moment in time.


 The English academies could churn out the best youth players in the world but if those players aren't mentally fit for the significant challenges that football at the highest level brings, then all the talent in the world is not going to stop England from crashing out at the first or second hurdle.

It's always someone else's fault when they don't produce — the coach picked the wrong team, someone played the wrong pass — so when I heard suggestions the senior players were unhappy with Hodgson's training, I was incensed.

Why won't they take responsibility? They live lives now with personal assistants, player liaison officers, nannies and agents organising every little detail for them. Some wouldn't even know how to book a holiday or an appointment at the dentist for themselves.

It strips character. You can see that in the interviews they give. They are bland and sanitised and come across as if the answers have been rehearsed. There really is no point in watching them, as they are afraid of saying anything.

And, it must be said, it's very easy to sit here in our ivory tower and laugh at the English system when, in reality, for too long we've exported our youth development into that very system. Perhaps Irish footballers don't have quite the same sense of entitlement but that's not to say that they're immune from the problems which Carragher has outlined.

For too long, English football's problems have been Irish football's problem. When the vast majority of our best 16 year olds are heading for England, it's impossible to think that we're removed from the problems that English football faces. However, moves are finally being made to address that. Something which our Gavin Cooney has covered in depth this week.


See also: England's Humiliation Shows Why Irish Football Is Finally On The Right Track


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