In recent history, England has struggled to identify itself. The individual quality of the side and the numbers of players to choose from are incredible, but put these players together and they seem to inevitably crash and burn. Maybe I’ll be able to figure out England’s issue if it persists in this year’s Euro Cup, but at the moment I can only come to one conclusion: the team has too many competing stars and captains that have not become comfortable as a unit. Every national team is full of stars, but as of late these English sides can’t seem to get over what every national team must get over. Successful national teams are able to have their players transition from one role for their clubs to another for their country. England has lacked this transition and each time the team steps onto the pitch it feels like it’s the first time these guys have seen one another. It just feels forced.
In the past when trying to rationalize England’s performances I have told myself the following: England isn’t doing well because they lack that one creative playmaker or goal scorer that you need in order to make it at the very highest level. And, by this, I meant England, while it has tremendous players like Rooney and Gerrard, lacks a player that is tricky and has one of those intangibles that has him create something out of nothing, like an Aguero or Villa. But, the more I think about it, the argument is awful. Very few teams have an Aguero or Villa (because, well, there are only two of them) and that’s not even what I would point to if someone asked me why Man City or Spain is successful. Also, where do you find a player like that in the 2004 Euro Cup winners?
When trying to find a similar team to England, I look to Germany. I view both of these teams as blue-collar teams as opposed to flashy squads, like Holland or Spain. English and German teams, as individuals, lack an offensively potent weapon like a Robben, Villa, or Ribery, and instead rely solely on their ability to mold as a team. The Germans have done it. They have taken these blue-collar players and, in them, found a team that has been a contender in recent major competitions. The English haven’t done the same. And the gut feeling I get is they don’t have that chemistry.
The defining point is that many German players come out of the same club, Bayern Munich, and therefore don’t face the same major issue England does. England pulls its players from Chelsea, Man U, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham. England’s players have competed with one another for the last decade in the EPL, while most other national teams have a majority of their players come from only a couple clubs. How many of Germany’s players come from Bayern? How many of Spain’s players come from Real Madrid and Barcelona? How many of Russia’s players come from Zenit and Moscow? How many of Italy’s players come from Inter and AC Milan (and Juve too)? Perhaps this is a legitimate concern for England: it’s players are more divided than most national squads. Even the countries that do not pull a majority of players from a couple clubs (Holland, France) don’t have their players in constant competition like England does.
Until England’s players can clearly distinguish between their roles in the EPL and their roles in an English kit, the squad will not be successful.