Why Germany is the best model for England to follow
Dean Holden at March 23rd, 2013
by The Whitehouse Address, 22 February 2012
In the 2000 Euro championship’s England and Germany both failed dramatically with squads which were clearly inept. Changes needed to be made, problems needed to be addressed. The decisions made by the two countries differed and the consequences of those decisions are seen toda
What did England do to remedy the situation, we changed the manager. We didn’t believe that the players were at fault, we never do, it is always the manager who lacks the skills to win tournaments; either he is not motivating enough or not tactically good enough. Since then we have continued to fail, we have failed also to address the players deficiencies and those of the coaches in this country
What the German FA did was different; they looked at why their team failed and believed there was not enough young players with the necessary quality to make the German national team great. So what did they do? They invested in youth development; they implemented guidelines to the German teams that there must be more work put in to developing youth, that Germany must produce better quality players.
Have they been successful? At the Under 21’s Euro’s in 2009 the German team showed the world that Germany had started to produce players for the future. They destroyed an average England in the final 4-0 and gave credence for the long term development plan put in place in 2000. At the 2010 World Cup England were shown up again by an excellent counter attacking team possessing fast, creative and clinical players in an organised German team which won 4-1, possessing players from that Under 21 side, most notably Ozil. They showed the world that Germany had developed players that would challenge for honours for the next decade.
As well as this there has been more teams developing youth than buying foreign talent. German champions Dortmund are a great example of side who have invested in youth and are seeing the benefits paying off. They were in dire financial conditions in the early 2000’s and were forced as much as anything to develop youth. It has paid off splendidly; spending only £5 million last season they ran away with the league, with players from their Academy becoming top class players in Sahin and Gotze and with ex Academy star Marco Reus returning next year after doing excellently at Mönchengladbach this season, Dortmund have blended young stars with youth products have produced a potent attacking team.
It is a great example of German efficiency; a plan was put in place and through far sighted planning and co-operation between federations and clubs a new generation was produced. In the last decade both the national team and domestic clubs have benefited from an emphasis on youth development and nurturing potential stars.
What the Germans did.
What did they do that has made such an impact on German football? A good article in Sports Illustrated
covered the improvements made in Germany all across the country. They required quality in facilities and coaching. They built 121 national talent centers in order to help 10- to 17-year-olds with technical practice. Each centre would employ two full-time coaches. The second key point was a new requirement for all 36 professional clubs in Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 to build youth academies.
In 2003/04 Germany had 44% foreign players playing the Bundesliga, they realised something needed to change. Today it is 38%, which means the Bundesliga has 62% of players playing each week who are able to play for the national team. In England the numbers are reversed.
The most significant change in Germany was insisting that in these new academies at least 12 players in each intake have to be eligible to play for Germany. The key difference to England is that in Germany the 6+5 rule means only players from Germany are eligible to play. In England the rule is any player from any nationality who has been trained and developed in the country is classed as home grown. Cesc Fabregas is a perfect example. What the German model enables is the home grown youth to play more, enabling more players to gain the necessary experience to improve..
It is no surprise then that Germany has more players, their rules enable them to develop a greater number. In Germany there is a very strong relationship and goal to develop youth
. The Premier League is restricting England’s chances at achieving success because in the Pro game they are not being hard enough on clubs to develop home grown talent. The new EPPP plan
may look to improve talent in England, however many people and many clubs have their doubts. Ultimately it comes down to what happens when these players get to the Pro game.
English clubs currently spend more than Germany each year on youth development, around £90 million per season, and put 10,000 boys aged between nine and 16 through a much-criticised structure designed by Howard Wilkinson in 1997. Yet, only about 1% of boys who join an English academy aged nine become professional footballers. This is not economical and clearly there is a problem which money cannot fix.
The problem with the English league is that there a lot of words and promises of a brighter future yet no governing body in total control of youth development. Too much fighting between the FA, Premier League and Football League has resulted in poor management and planning that has restricted the development of a larger pool of talented players. There is a short sightedness to the English development model which is restricting the long term development of players.
The top clubs and Premier League are doing a disservice to the English game by not creating more opportunities for clubs to develop talent. If every club was forced to play 6 English players weekly then the talent and quality will improve. Through selfish gain the owners and business men have marketed the Premier League to be the best and many have benefitted from the TV deals and high wages, yet it is the fans of the country who have lost out most. Each tournament creates a larger chasm between the best and England.
We must address the key issues that plague our game, from the quality of coaching in the foundation levels to the restrictions on the amount of English players in the pro game. The issues in the Pro game need to be addressed in order for more English players to gain experience in the top league, not on loan to the lower leagues. Compared to Germany we are lagging behind. A lack of communication and broken relationships between the clubs and governing bodies have restricted growth.
The National team
The game is always changing, new tactics and new styles of players are making the game faster and more tactical. Coaches need to adapt to these new changes in order to keep up and players need to be developed to suit this ever evolving game. Comparing England and Germany tactically is very interesting and shows again why Germany are further advanced.
German tactics in the last 12 years have evolved along with the ever changing game. Initially Klinsmann, the former Spurs and Bayern forward, wanted Germany to play an (idealized) version of Premier League football; a 4-4-2 system with attacking wide players, overlapping fullbacks and only one holding midfielder behind a box-to-box midfielder.
However, they found this formation to be flawed because the 4-4-2 was ill-equipped to deal with sides that had deep-lying shadow strikers or playmakers “between the lines” and also suffered from predictability. Under Joachim Löw a more fluid 4-2-3-1 system was adopted as it fitted with the current tactical trends involving false 9’s, deep lying 10’s and inside forwards from the wings. With the emergence of young talent like Ozil, Muller and now Gotze and Schurrle the formation suited fast, creative players who were given licence to attack quickly and with a fluidity which is not seen much in England.
There is a real attacking flair in the side which is supported by an organised and defensively strong base. The Germans adapted their style to suit the changes in the modern game. The players showed an understanding of a changing system and the ability to adapt; can we say the same about our players and teams? Today perhaps Man City resemble this tactic and it is not since Quieroz was assistant at United that a top team has played such fluid football. Until more teams adapt their styles to suit European and international football then we will not produce players who are good enough for this level.
Why is Germany the best model to replicate?
How successful is the youth model in Germany? Of the 23-man national squad in South Africa, 19 came from Bundesliga academies, with the other four from Bundesliga 2 academies. Of the current Germany squad there are 15 players under the age of 24, with players like Ozil established in the team and up and coming stars like Gotze, Reus and Schurrle already in the squad. Their centre back pairing are both 23 years old in Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. It is a team capable of playing in the present and one built for the future.
Many people now want to play like Spain and Barcelona and of course this is desirable as their football is excellent. Spain’s success has come from addressing the root issues. It involved improving and educating coaches; educating them to expert level and having them go and work in training centres around the country. This meant it was not a few teams who benefitted but every child. Through this, standards improved, players developed more and after 20 years they have a successful national team and football culture whose foundations were built on expert coaching.
In our Academies the level of coaching is average, we require experts in order to lay strong foundations for young players. Spain and Holland have mastered this and their players are unquestionably technically better than ours. It is not rocket science, coaching is the answer.
Nevertheless, as good as Spain are we cannot look to emulate this side. Our cultures do not match, we are not like the Spanish or the Dutch. We can look to improve our coaching like they have done, yet we cannot try to be them, if we do we will fail. It is the German model of youth development and values that should underpin our development pathways.
England resembles Germany more than any other country in terms of style, attitude and characteristics. They have taken their organised, disciplined manner and added guile, creativity, agility and craft. The new EPPP is a model for better coaching and improved standards, yet it is changes in the Pro game which are required in order to allow potential England players opportunities to gain the experience necessary to improve. Until the governing bodies in England agree and enforce clubs to have more English players in their teams, then the national team will not improve.