Ice To See You England

So we are here again!! The best English players in Woy’s pool of talent were picked and off they went. We all know what happened so no need to remind ourselves!!. As Russ wrote about the other day in his post, England Expects, the fallout has started and everyone from the highest FA members to Barry the White Van man, ex professional’s and even the kind old lady who works in the Post Office have had an opinion and rightly so. I have mine but today I’m going to delve into how the oldest Football Association in the World trains its coaches compared with our European buddy’s and why there is a lack of good English coaches in the top leagues? Now I can only really talk about my experience of International Football and that can only start at the 1990 World Cup, because that’s the first one I can remember which ironically was our best performance.

So starting with England’s past manager’s here is a cheeky list;

Sir Bobby Robson 1982-1990
1984 Euro’s Failed to Qualify
1986 World Cup Quarter Final
1988 Euro’s Group Stage
1990 World Cup Semi Final

Graham Taylor aka Turnip 1990-1993
1992 Euro’s Group Stage
1994 World Cup Failed to Qualify

Terry Venables 1994-1996
1996 Euro’s Semi Finals

Glenn Hoddle 1996-1999
1998 World Cup Second Round

Howard Wilkinson 1999-2000 Interim Manager

Kevin Keegan 1999-2000
2000 Euro’s Group Stage

Peter Taylor 2000 Interim Manager

Sven Goran Eriksson 2001-2006
2002 World Cup Quarter Final
2004 Euro’s Quarter Final
2006 World Cup Quarter Final

Steve McClaren 2006-2007
2008 Euro’s Failed to Qualify

Fabio Capello 2008-2012
2010 World Cup Second Round

Stuart Pearce 2012 Interim Manager

Roy Hodgson 2012-2016
2012 Euro’s Quarter Finals
2014 World Cup Group Stage
2016 Euro’s Last 16

So that’s the list of recent managers of England and to me it is not good reading but three managers stand out to me and they are….. Sir Bobby Robson, Terry Venables and also Sven Goran Eriksson. Why I hear you ask, well that is because they have had relative success. Sven had the Golden Generation of English football so should have done better with the talent he had at his fingertips, but the other two are the fella’s that for me did a great job!!! I will be chatting about the coaching structure of England in one hot minute but before that Sir Bobby and Terry were not super qualified coaches like the FA are trying to breed. They were Football men who lived for the game and knew it inside out with added overseas experience and also had the knack of getting players to run those extra yards and put bodies on the line for their Country. Now in my book that’s an England Manager!!!!. Also another thing that they have in common is that they were both employed by more Football men within the FA. It’s the guys in suits who themselves profess that they are “not football people” to again find a new manager!! The FA would like the coach to have all his badges and loads of experience and that person clearly is FA poster boy Gareth Southgate but just because you’re a coach who looks great on paper and can follow the New England DNA formula does not make you best for the job. I’m not knocking Mr Southgate, he has worked very hard and will one day be top of the tree but it is an underachieving system he has worked in. As a grassroots coach myself who is working up the FA Coaching Pathway that I know it will cost a lot of money and also a lot of my time but I’m willing to do this knowing ironically that at sum point the system will change and it will be another new fad that we will have start promoting. So is it worth that time and money? Will the Pathway keep changing? And would I be better off if I studied in Europe? Here are some shocking facts about the number of coaches reaching the top within the big Five leagues in Europe.

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World Cup wins since 1990 and European Cup wins since 1992
England.  Nothing
Italy. 1 World Cup
France. 1 World Cup and 1 European Championship
Germany. 2 World Cup’s and 1 European Championship
Spain. 1 World Cup and 2 European Championship

So if you compare the Column Chart and Pie Chart of the number of top level Coaches to the success of the five nations it’s very easy to make the connection that you have a decent amount of top Coaches you will win the big Football prizes.
Now each nation there have won a World Cup or European Championship or even both but may I ask who has won them more than once and most recent in, let’s say, the Premier League era!? England only have a 5% share and have won nothing and this leads me to my biggest issue which is our pathway. Each countrie’s pathway is in the same region of cost as the others but time scales are not. It takes forever and a day to get on a coaching course higher than a level 1 in England nowadays but if you look at Spain they do three years of hard work and when the finish they can work at any level and then go on to the UEFA A and Pro licences.

We are not getting the coaches because we don’t have a system that is user friendly as well as providing quality. Change is needed, but at the top!! We need to get football people back in the FA!! Ex players, managers, ref’s, people that know the game and make decisions based on their knowledge of the game like the men who employed Sir Bobby and Super Terry and not old men who are just in it for commercial reasons. England as a footballing nation will not improve until we have all the right pegs in the right holes and focus on football using people who know Football and can move with the times. World Cups and European Championships are not the thing at the end of a season to delay a players holiday’s and a chance to grab the big sponsorship deals. We gave Football to the World and the World took it and improved it so let’s start learning from our counterparts and improving our own talent. Yes it’s fantastic having all these elite academies but we are breeding a type of player with no character who doesn’t know what to do when their backs are against the wall and this adds to English football having no identity. For example, Man City signed a four year old!! So by the time he gets to an age where he can play adult football he will be released and missed out on being a kid playing with his mates down the park learning with his pals. That can’t be too bad because most of the Brazilians are those kids who play with their buddies on the streets learning and then getting to the big time. In the last England squad at the Euro’s there was no stand out characters, no kids who spent all their time playing Football with their buddies. No Gazza’s, Lineker’s, Scholes, Terry’s, sod it even Heskey’s. Just a load of plastic professional’s. Even Rooney has lost that rawness that made him such a danger in the Euro 2004. So what to do next then? Well maybe start with this.

Ditch the box ticking criteria to be an England manager and give it to someone who knows the game.

Use the resources of former players, get them helping those younger England teams.

Make the coaching pathway more efficient and achievable.

Get some real football people in the power positions at the FA.

And most importantly listen to all CPOS podcasts we can talk sense sometimes.



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England Expects

It’s pretty unpleasent being in England at the moment. Aside from the social, political, and economic turmoil there is the men’s national football team. Another inglorious exit from an international tournament and another sobering morning after. One more shit storm to add to the grey cloud hanging over the nation. 

The success of the national side is often reflected in the prosperity of the nation. A good tournament run can bring an economic boost and good feeling across the country lifting the mood of everyone it touches. I’d hoped that England would go a little further at Euro 2016. Sport, and particularly football, can be a great unifier. Bringing people together to bask in the glory of victory (or even in glorious failures). But that wasn’t to be. Despite how much a country divided needs unity right now the crisis we face is not the fault of the England football team. That honour goes to the circus in parliament. 

The only blame that can be pointed at the football team is for their lack of footballing nouse. They stared the tournament as they meant to go on. Failing to beat a poor Russian side who’s only point came from the 1-1 draw with Engalnd. An uninspiring, blunt, idea less performance set the tone for the competition for England. Seeing plenty of the ball but not knowing what to with it. Wales gave England far too much credit and refused to play their natural game. This and a sprinkle of misfortune gave three points to England. Slovakia did not want to lose and their lack of adventure exposed England’s inability to create further. In the second round the heavily patronised Iceland tactically undone England. Well aware of England’s struggle for ideas in front of goal, Iceland were happy for England to have the ball and just watched as England’s frustration with their own inability fully consumed them to the point of farse. Not bad for some tiny minnows who only have a populatio…….*snore*.

What seemed like seconds after he final whistle against Iceland Roy Hodgson had resigned as manager. Quite a noble gesture as it transpires as half the media coverage is now focussing on who his successor may be rather than the ineptitude of Englnds finest. I can’t help feeling that whoever picks up the poison chalice of England Manger next is irrelevant. What needs to be digested in the autopsy of England’s Euro’s is that they have found their level. England’s only real failure is not living up to the impossible expectation bestowed on them by fans and the media and that’s no real failure at all. England haven’t got past a quarter final/second round in 20 years. Going out at this point is what we should expect. England have finished on par. Embrace it. If Engalnd can cast off the shackles of expectation then perhaps fans can enjoy football again. Perhaps the players can play with out fear again. Freeing their creative juices. Imagine that, a world where we can enjoy watching England. 


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Armchair Supporters, Sit Down and Unite

You’re only a real fan if go to the game to watch Football. Armchair supporters aren’t real fans. You’ve got to be in the stands to support your club, right? Right? If that’s true, the future of this game of ours may be considerably less in scale, as the revenue inherited from TV rights indicates. Just as going to the game has grown into watching on TV, maybe it’s time football consumption evolves again.

Seeing a live game of football literally in front of you is difficult to repIicate. Not much comes close to experiencing that atmosphere first hand, but if only real fans are the one’s in attendance at an actual real life stadium then there is only a small finite number of people who can call themselves a football fan. On any given weekend only around 1,014,104 people could be football fans. That’s if every football league fixture in England was a sell out (and depending only on what stadium the fixture was played at). Given the Premier League alone boasted revenue of 3.3 Billion last year, that would cost every ‘real fan’ of every league club £3254.00 a year in ticket purchases just to keep the Premier League in the pomp and affluence it is accustomed to. Let alone the Championship, League one, and League two. For the global, multi billion pound behemoth that English football is 1,014,104 people isn’t going to cut it. Could this mean there is room for the armchair supporter after all?

The basic maths may be reductive but not without merit. The television viewing football fan contributes a significant wedge though TV subscriptions and ad revenue driven through viewing figures. Every couple of years it feels like a new TV deal is in place with clubs, particularly in the Premier League, raking in millions upon millions of additional cash. But just as rising ticket prices forced the average football fans back into their armchairs, growing subscription fees could be in danger of doing the same to the lowly armchair fan. Now one TV package isn’t enough with football broadcasting rights recently multiplying in the shape of BT Sport incroching on Sky’s Soccer monopoly. A rare case of commercial competition where the consumer actually loses. 

Unfortunately after TV there isn’t many places to go for a football fix. Dodgy streams are hit or miss at best and the bonus gambit of free malware or spyware add an element of tension to the Russian Comentary. Certainly not a ‘go to’ for your 2-0 away loss to Everton. But watching football via the Internet is surely now the natural evolution for the game. The consumption of online content  is, and has, been growing exponentially for quite some time. The prominence of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and normalcy of on-demand viewing are testament to that. The powers that be at the Premier League would be naive to ignore this trend and foolish to gate off potential football fans as younger generations grow with web based entertainment as the norm. Sky’s ‘Sky Go’ began to bridge the gap with the app offering all of Sky’s content for PC’s and mobile devices but is still hidden behind the expensive Sky TV subscription paywall. BT Sport also offer a mobile app as part of their service but recently have taken things a step further. Both the Europa League final and the Champions League final were streamed live on YouTube. A noble olive branch to give the most prestigious games in club football to a global Audience for free. 

Like most Sports, Football needs to be seen live as it happens, making an on-demand service all but redundant. A web based affordable subscription must surely be the next step. No ones going to give anything away for free so a nominal fee, similar to Netflix or Amazon, is far more palatable than the hundreds and hundreds of pounds a year required to watch live football at present. A football dedicated, ad subsidised, affordable viewing client that fits how the consumer  wants to consume surely can’t be that much of a pipe dream? It’s almost like the broadcasters are only in it for the money! With an evolving media and pricing wars where the public loses out the Broadcasters and the Premier League should be weary of their greed. Nothing is going to replace attending a game in the flesh, but it’s time for Broadcasters to adapt or die. 


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Cleanpairofshorts Podcast – Ep117 – CPOS Awards

Its the final show of the season and its a bumper edition. Its the CPOS Awards! We dish out the most coveted accolades in all of Football to those most deserving. We also look back at pre-season predictions and measure them against reality, which involves coming to terms with how little we know about football. But hey, we have fun anyway. (Spoilers, this recorded a week ago and we all know how quick things change in football right…) Listen to the last show of the season here:

Or on iTunes


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Cleanpairofshorts Podcast – Ep116 – Goal Rat

The Premier League has drawn to a close and the gang give it a fitting send off by reveling in all of its glory. After a look back at the last weekend of action, and the season as a whole, the gang turn there attention to the future, and in that future they see England. They give the once over to Roy’s initial 26 man squad and even dare to give some Euro predictions.

Listen here

or on iTunes

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Cleanpairofshorts Podcast – Ep115 -The Pools

This week the gang definitely are on the beach and instead of bringing you a professional, polished football show, pretty much just sit around chatting instead. The Pools, Peaky Blinders, and under 7’s reffing all feature as well as Blue the dog. Yes, we have a dog in the studio this week and naturally, hilarity ensues. (Don’t worry, there is some football chat too).

Listen here:

or on iTunes

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Cleanpairofshorts – Ep114 – Hleb

We’re back. After our impromptu hiatus the gang reconvene to celebrate Leicester becoming Premier League Champions and weep with empathy at the relegation dog fight. Tottenham, Man Utd, Newcastle and Sunderland also get mentioned as well as Jordon Veretout’s life choices. A veritable plethora of patisserie shaped football delights awaits inside. Come in…

Listen here:

or on iTunes


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No Podcast This Week (again (again))

Oh, so… This is awkward. No Podcast again this week. Due to foreseen circumstances that we chose to ignore. On the brighter side, Leicester have all but won he league, the relegation scrap has just got interesting, and my phone keeps autocorrecting ‘podcast’ to ‘podcats’, which is weird but now I’m not sure which one I prefer. Anyway, we’ll be back next week waffling nonsense as per usual. 

Bye for now. 

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The big R

So that’s it. Aston Villa’s stay in the big league has come to an end, also not a very distinguished end!!
As you might know some months back I wrote a post about Villa’s shaky start to the season. Since then we have sacked two managers and two chief executives and one of the longest serving players has been suspended twice in a matter of weeks, and to top off a bad weekend two of the trio of men who came in to save us decided that after a month at the stricken club, that was enough and walked!.

I am going to quote a fan’s comments who said “Villa have died from a thousand cuts” or Lingchi ( wow get me with some knowledge ) now that is a very true statement. A lingering torture that the poor Villa fans have suffered for near on five seasons with a cheeky FA cup final whipping from Arsenal as a cheeky bonus. 

Well all that I can see is that we have gone from being a Premiership laughing stock into a Championship laughing stock. This could be as bad as what happened to former heavy weights likes Leeds, both Sheffield clubs,  and now even Bolton. A classic case of mismanagement, poor recruitment and an American owner who underestimated the rigours of the Premier league.

Only 25% of relegated clubs from the Premier bounce back the next season and with so many lacklustre playing staff who seem to spend more time on the front page rather than the back, what do Villa as a club do!!! 

Well to start they need to get Brian Little ( Villa Legend ) to find us a new manager and we also need, new to the job, Chairman Steve Hollis to find a buyer and get Lerner away from our club. Then we consolidate and build a side that are proud to be playing for Aston Villa and not just here for a pay check.

Mike Simmons

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Cleanpairofshorts Podcast – Ep113 – Pooey Dessert

As the climax of the Premier League draws ever nearer, the gang pick apart the key games of the weekends action. Leicester’s heroics, Sunderland’s fight, Newcastle’s win, and Villa’s relegation. All this plus interin Mangers and the Fantasy League round up. Enjoy it before the season ends.

Listen here:

or on iTunes





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