While the issue of a lack of diversity has reared its ugly head and talk of tokenism amidst Rio Ferdinand's recent inclusion have been high on the media's agenda following the announcement of Greg Dyke's FA Commission, another factor simply buried its head deeper into the sand.
A debate centred on increasing the variety of ethnic backgrounds needs to be addressed, but so does exactly why there has been a distinct lack of former players that have been willing to throw their hat into the ring. Of course, in Ferdinand and Glenn Hoddle we have a former captain and a talent plucked from the top drawer, but with their last appearances for the Three Lions coming in 2011 and 1988 respectively, there is a gaping hole that is crying out to be filled.
Since Bobby Moore held the Jules Rimet trophy aloft in 1966, the closest an Englishman has come to repeating the feat was at Italia 1990. A team led by Bryan Robson and marshalled by Terry Butcher, that hinged on Paul Gascoigne's creativity and relied on Gary Lineker's goals fell short against Germany, their bitter rivals. Six years later, football looked like it was coming home, only for Terry Venables's team to fail to engineer a route past the Germans once more. Since then, the pride attached to the team and performances at international tournaments have been in steady decline.
But where are the household names of the nation's most successful teams from the 90's now? Not only are they missing from Dyke's panel, the majority are missing from the game totally. Stuart Pearce (a member of both sides) has been on the front lines, attempting to nurture our crop of youngsters via the Under-21 side with mixed results. Gareth Southgate, who missed the vital penalty in 1996, is now his successor following a stint as the FA's head of elite development. Paul Ince and a handful of others are trying to carve out careers at club level. But where are the talismanic players that were the brightest talents of their generation?
The two that spring to mind, arguably the best two strikers ever to don the white of England, can be found on Saturday nights assessing the Premier League action in a Salford studio. Meanwhile, his inclusion may have raised eyebrows, but all credit to Danny Mills for being given the nod.
Far from a national treasure, Mills only made it to a World Cup thanks to an injury to Gary Neville, but he is being proactive and attempting to make a difference. His idea to introduce a limit on the number of foreign players in English club academies is drastic, but new ideas need to be encouraged, because things clearly aren't working. Shearer continues to flirt with a post at Newcastle while Lineker's every tweet creates headlines, but his claim that several members of the panel were "utterly pointless" is itself a pointless exercise.
Rather than sit on his high horse, if Lineker is concerned about the state of our national set up, like most people, he should take Mills's admirable advice and get up and do something about it. If you have the power to make a difference but belittle others' efforts while you do nothing yourself then you are part of the problem in my book.
Asking the difficult questions is one thing, but trying to implement your ideas is worth more than picking holes in other peoples' suggestions at the answers. We have a woeful lack of coaches throughout the country, but is it any surprise if former players opt to indulge in punditry rather than inspire not only people from outside the game to get involved, but a younger generation of players to complete their coaching badges?
English football has undoubtedly paid the price for the Premier League's cash injection with plenty of homegrown players attracting unflattering headlines and having their desire to play questioned when big money is put on the table, even if it means a stint of stagnation on the bench. Although the involvement of former players is only one of multiple contributing factors that can determine a nation's success, it would certainly help maintain the identity the side has lost of late. If the current crop follow the example of those who have recently retired, the slide may well continue.
Granted, several have coaching roles or have tried their hand at a managerial career, but why are more not coming to the forefront to answer their country's call? As much help as we can get is needed. The rewards for staying in the game after retirement may be dwindling, and Stuart Pearce's treatment as Under 21 boss is testament to that. So will our multi-millionaire 30 somethings that retire in the next decade have the drive to stay in the game? At the moment the signs are good, with the Neville brothers leading the way and others making the right noises about their intentions when their time on the pitch is over.
But it must not be forgotten that although it's the fat cats at the FA that attract the majority of criticism surrounding the England team, some of the players that enjoyed legendary status not so long ago must shoulder some of the blame.
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