Archive for June, 2012

There is something rotten in the state of…South west London (Wimbledon, to be exact). Millions of pounds are being harvested from Wimbledon every year by the LTA. A good chunk of that is being invested in developing talent. But it doesn’t look like any talent is coming through to challenge in the top rankings. Reading the Boris Becker interview in the Guardian this afternoon made me think.

European countries pouring less money in development of junior players seem to be doing a better job than the LTA. This is no criticism of the LTA at all. The problems are deep and embedded in the social fabric. In the north-west part of England I am familiar of, I have never seen a single girl or boy carrying a tennis racket. The primary schools do not seem to encourage this sport. However, other sports like football, rugby league, gymnastics, netball and sprints are well catered for. Is tennis seen as an elitist sport? A southern sport? Or not a sport at all, but just a Wimbledon spectacle? Former Wimbledon Champion Becker’s view is that ‘Tennis is no doubt an elitist sport, it’s expensive; racquets are expensive, courts are expensive, a pair of tennis shoes is expensive. But it is fairly obvious that the LTA is not struggling for money and the question is: what should they be looking for?’ And where are they looking? I hasten to add.

A lot of work needs to be done otherwise the whole nation’s hopes will be on one Briton every year, Andy Murray. God Forbid the Scots decide to go independent!

Schools must be encouraged to provide for tennis training. The LTA should be helping schools promoting and encouraging this sport at grassroots level. More people need to be encouraged to coach and above all else funding should be provided for setting up of tennis courts. Preferably all-weather surfaces to counter the vagaries of the weather.

We need more players in the top 20. We should be looking forward to a Briton winning at Wimbledon. It is a sad indictment  of the state of British tennis with one of the most famous tournaments all over the world that Fred Perry is the last Brit to have lifted the trophy.

Even Sleeping Beauty woke up eventually from her slumber. Lets hope our tennis does; and not become another Dodo

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England were knocked out by Italy. Outplayed for most of the match apart from the first 20 minutes of the first half (normal time). Possession statistics are quite damning. The facts speak for themselves. Pirlo was in total control of the match and England seemed to think defence was the best policy.

Does the type of football typified by England really work in modern tournament football? I suppose looking at the way Chelsea FC’s victory in lifting the Champions League this type of football has got its merits. The belief that the end justifies the means comes to mind. However,the main disadvantage is that neutral supporters get turned off easily. Moreover, ‘parking the bus’ as this style of football is euphemistically called makes a mockery of the  sobriquet ‘the Beautiful game’. There is no beauty in the display. The only ‘beauty’ I suppose is seeing  the not-so-appealing team winning and their supporters screaming in utter jubilation. The end does justify the means.

England will need to go back to the drawing board and find a way of improving on the performances displayed at the EUROs. Players will have to be more technically adept, and they above all else will need to have total belief in their own abilities. Theat belief seemed to be lacking. Psychological support may be needed here. There are some excellent players in the Prem League. Admittedly a significant number of the exceptionally good ones are not English. However, the likes of Ste Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ashley Cole, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Hart, Glenn Johnson, just to name a few are good enough to grace any national team. And win the major trophies.  There will be some tricky matches on the way to the World Cup and these players will need to make sure that these choppy waters are overcome. The Coach has wide-ranging experience plus an expert knowledge of different systems, so therefore the future should be rosy.

One area though I feel the FA & the clubs need to address is how the young boys are taught to play football. Technical skills must be made the be-all and end-all. There is no place for hoofing the ball upwards, in the hope someone will head it in. Players must be made to understand importance of possession football, defending as a unit and above all be able to beat the opponent  with easy. It has taken Spain a few years to get to where they are now.the Germans keep working on improving their systems, and the other European countries are becoming technically more proficient. Croatia were quite impressive, even Russia and Poland. The future is here and we have to make sure our fast-paced football can cope with the  tiki takas of this world.

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