Xabi Alonso on what is wrong with English Football today

This topic contains 21 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by Dandy Dandy 4 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #882709

    CM
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    One of the Premier League’s most successful imports, Xabi Alonso, perhaps gave the most damning testimony as to why England can’t crack it at international level. “I don’t think tackling is a quality,” he said. “At Liverpool I used to read the matchday programme and you’d read an interview with a lad from the youth team. They’d ask: age, heroes, strong points, etc. He’d reply: ‘Shooting and tackling’. I can’t get into my head that football development would educate tackling as a quality, something to learn, to teach, a characteristic of your play. How can that be a way of seeing the game? I just don’t understand football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort and you will need it, but it isn’t a quality to aspire to, a definition.”

    He ends by touching on the biggest problem facing the next generation of England players. “It’s hard to change because it’s so rooted in the English football culture.” During our games it is noticeable that every 50-50 challenge is met with a roar of approval from the crowd and even if you don’t win the ball, often there is a ripple of applause. For some players it is how they’re accepted and how they judge whether they’ve had a good or bad game.

    Whilst a guy who controls a game from the off is given little recognition compared to a guy who goes around making crunching tackles. Little has evolved amongst English football. Like Gary Neville said, we prefer electric guitars to piano’s. As soon as that changes, the more successful the national team will become.

    #883168
    redwing80
    redwing80
    Participant
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    England is so far behind the top countries in Europe, it’s unbelievable.

    The fact you hire Roy Hodgson to manage the country’s top talent says it all. None of the English managers know how to play football without hoofing the ball 50 yards into the box. It’s embarrassing.

    #883348

    Manthistle
    Participant
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    Fire in the hole!

    #883384
    Dandy
    Dandy
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    A few years ago I might have agreed with Alonso, this quote is an old quote too, but now I don’t think you can level that accusation . Take our national senior side, our midfield in the last game was Ali, Dier, Sterling & Barkley and the game prior to that was Carrick, Delph, Lallana & Barkley. If you look at those players the emphasis is on passing and technique -We might not be very good at it, but we have moved on. There is a focus on versatile and clever footballers we just don’t have many good ones.

    #883426

    Lilywhite
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    In the past that has been very true.
    Years back the England team should have been built around glen Hoddle, but no, he didn’t tackle, so he was never given the chances he would have got in some other European teams.
    I am hoping this year will be different, with the new young generation coming in as mentioned by Dandy.

    #883438
    Jay belfast
    Jay belfast
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    What a load of rubbish of course tackling is a skill and quality but more important it is entertaining. Why shouldnt it be celebrated?!

    The skill of winning the ball back is difficult and obviously desirable and should be applauded. I understand the fact that if you are in the position that you have to make a tackle means you have lost the ball the first place but this is football you are going to lose the ball. Yes English crowds cheer strong tackling, they also cheer good passing, scoring, goalkeepers catching the ball ffs. Tackling is a skill and should be applauded. If someone does a trick or piece of techinical skill to keep possession or an amazing pass for their team they are greeted with a similar reaction from the crowd.

    Or are we saying defenders have no real merit within the game given that 90% of their brief is “win back the ball” and tackling?!

    The player who controls the game is given little recognition?! Bollox!! In any list of the most celebrated players in the league the vast majority of them would not be in that list for their tackling. The list of greatest evers will be there for their attacking flair/passing/scoring in the whole.

    #883501
    Dandy
    Dandy
    Participant
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    Totally agree Jay, it’s a bit of lazy stereotyping from Alonso. I bet he wasn’t complaining about tackling when Puyol helped his national side out or Senna was doing the dirty work.

    #883798

    CM
    Participant
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    Jay- I don’t think Alonso was disrespecting tackling as a whole, he was more analysing how much people think it should be a main skill. A lot of defenders in Spain, Germany and Italy intercept rather than tackle 1st. They use tackling as a last resort. This country has it as one of it main attributes and if you cannot tackle, but can intercept you are considered shit because you cannot tackle.

    Look at how much our top teams have been out passed and outplayed compared to other top European teams, no matter how much money the top teams have spent, they are always getting outplayed on the park and have to resort to park the bus. Look at our national side.

    #883804

    CM
    Participant
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    Fair points Dandy. But most of them players are box to box rather than technical players. I reckon we need to produce more technical players and players who can read the game to catch up to top European sides and top national sides.

    That is more to with coaching. Lack of investment in coaches and lack of quality coaching has cost this nation in producing top quality players. Rooney was our last world class player and that was 14 years ago.

    #884272
    Jay belfast
    Jay belfast
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    CM don’t agree.

    Our defenders have been easily some of the best in the world and they’ve been pretty handy at tackling too but not all of them.

    Ashley Cole for example you would not say is a great tackler but he’ll be remembered as one England’s best defenders. Rio falls into this category also. Sweeping generalisation with not a lot of basis by Alonso if you ask me. English crowds like to cheer tackles and that’s why they’re behind the rest…..bs! Spanish crowds don’t cheer tackling in exactly the same way?!

    #884341

    NotoriousBingo
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    its at least a five year old comment if not older… kinda funny stating that this is the problem today then innit?

    #884359

    CM
    Participant
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    I think he is more talking about his position and midfielders in general, rather than defenders. Especially when he mentions reading the game, but I could be wrong. England have produced 2 good ball playing defenders, yet we have also produced the likes of Carragher, Cahill and Terry.

    Do Spanish celebrate a 50/50 crunch tackle or any form of tackling. According to Alonso they don’t. I have watched Spanish football a fair bit and they rarely make 50/50 crunch tackle’s and when they do tackle, it is not as well received as it is here.

    Alonso makes a good point. As I have said, how come our top clubs rarely outplay the top European sides. We can rarely string 2 passes together and have to always sit back. That is the mentality on these shores.

    #884362

    CM
    Participant
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    Bingo-It is a 3 year comment. But what has exactly changed? Gary Neville recently said we prefer electric guitars to piano style players. I would say nothing much.

    #884374
    gunn04
    gunn04
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    Jay I think you’re missing the point mate. Nothing wrong with tackling and you might wanna look closer to home, Cesc Fabregas. As OP has pointed out, positioning, ball control, vision, decision making all more important in being able to control a game, instead of tackling. Its no coincidence all top teams have these type of players, Modric, Iniesta, Rakitic, Yaya (a few years back), Veratti, Kroos, Alonso, Pirlo, Xavi, Busquets. Even if you play Sunday league you know you’re likely to lose when the opposing team controls the midfield better than you do. The last English player who is on par in my opinion is Scholes. As someone has mentioned, Barkley, Lallana, etc are all technical, sure but they don’t have the ability to control a game. Which is why against Spain, Germany or the likes either England start parking the bus, or attack and most likely lose. My two cents.

    #884425

    mufc
    Participant
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    Without being harsh on one player when Ox went off injured due to him being clattered by Mascherano sums up English football for me. This may sound daft, now before the tackle he had so much space he ran around 50 yards full steam with the ball before over running it, now during this run he NEVER once looked up. It seemed like his aim was just to run as fast as he could with his head down.

    #884437
    Dandy
    Dandy
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    We are producing technically minded players, the focus isn’t on tackling anymore. When we did have players in midfield who loved a tackle (eg ince & batty) they were also good footballers. There’s an arrogance around Spanish football but let’s not forget no so long ago they were crap. We may not have quality players but that’s more to do with coaching in my opinion and not the desire to produce aesthetically pleasing footballers. If the English mentality is so rooted in tackling why is it that Hoddle is revered by Spurs fans? Carrick & Scholes by United fans? Gazza by most English fans?

    #884662

    CM
    Participant
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    Good points Dandy.

    The flip side is that is 4 in a space of 3 decades. The Spanish, Italians and Germans have created 3-4 in a generation. I have to disagree on England producing technical players. Dier is a defensive midfielder, not seen Spurs much this season and I could be wrong, but I thought him converting from a CB to DM, he would be like Mascherano. Alli is a box to box midfielder or a attacking midfielder and Barkley is like Gerrard.

    Alonso comments are old, but he did say when he was at Liverpool and they gave a interview to a youngster, he would put tackling as one of his best skills. That youngster is most likely in his late teens or early 20s now, so the emphasis on improving controlling games by having technical players like Scholes has not really changed.

    I know people are split on Carrick, but look at the United fans. They want Kante to replace Carrick, when has Kante controlled a game from the off. He likes to cover a lot of ground, dribble and make crunching tackles, crunching tackles is the reason main why United fans want him to replace Carrick. So the mindset has not really changed.

    #884731
    Dandy
    Dandy
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    I think people are split on Carrick because they don’t think he’s very good not because of the role he plays. Barkley is not like Gerrard, he is a flair player full of tricks & skill. Ali is not a player who relies on tackling nor is Lallana, Wilshire, Carrick. Milner & Henderson are workhorses but both decent footballers too. If you have interpreted Alonso’s comments to mean we don’t appreciate Carrick type of players, how can you explain the appreciation English fans have of Pirlo? We may not produce great players like Pirlo but that doesn’t mean players like him and Busquets aren’t respected. Horsecrap from Alonso.

    #884734
    hatters
    hatters
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    @mufc. You are spot on mate. Oxlade Chamberlain is a very average footballer in my view. He really messed up a great opportunity by allowing Mascherano to get a tackle in. If you watch the replay, Ox sprints full steam ahead, blinkered when he had Giroud and Ozil in space, as soon as he lost the ball Ozil lost it with frustration. You see, to Ozil that kind of play makes absolutely no sense and it infuriates him, Ozil understands football and Ox clearly doesn’t.

    I’m not sure this comment is actually addressing the topic but I just wanted to share my observations on that moment.

    These are the types of moments that drove Ozil insane. By halfway through the second half Ozil was completely demoralized and demotivated, his body language showed it – he is two steps ahead of his teammates.

    #884782

    CM
    Participant
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    Dandy- I was talking about United fans wanting Kante to replace Carrick because Carrick cannot tackle, whilst Kante can. Can Kante pass the ball better than Carrick? No, can he dictate play as good as Carrick? No, Can Kante read the game better than Carrick? No, Can Kante intercept better than Carrick? No Can Kante tackle better than Carrick? Yes.

    I know some people do not rate Carrick, but to solely replace a player because he can tackle better than him is exactly what Alonso was referring to.

    You say Alli does not rely on tackling? Whoscored have got interception, tackling, finishing and defensive contribution as his strong points. Whilst Passing, crossing and keeping the ball as a weakness.

    https://www.whoscored.com/Players/131519

    Same with Lallana, ball interception, defensive contribution and finishing as a strong point. Whilst keeping hold of the ball as a weakness.

    I will be honest not seen Barkley much, but looking at whoscored, we should be building a team around him because of his attributes and creating players more like him. That is where the game is heading and that is why teams succeed over us.

    How many foreign players have we got on these shores, yet the mindset of English football is just going gung ho, rather than take control from the off like Scholes use to. Maybe that is when we will start seeing us not be afraid of coming against the likes of PSG, Bayern Munich, Barcelona etc, who continuously out pass and out think our teams. Chelsea, Manchester United, City have spent a shit load of money, yet are scared to play football against these guys and have to resort to defending and hoping a counter attack works.

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