Football Commentator & Columnist
The FA and clubs need to ask if they care about England - Martin Tyler
The FA and clubs must reevaluate their commitment to English football, urges Martin Tyler.
Last Updated: 09/06/13 5:09pm
It's not just this Under-21 European Championship that England have come unstuck. It's part of a decline that's happened through a lack of prioritising England in the football industry as we know it.
Clubs have become more and more powerful and they want to protect their investments. It also hasn't become fashionable to be part of an England set-up and the players don't need the money. They are very well paid and they don't need the flak.
Modifying expectations is maybe something we could do in the media, but I would like the Premier League clubs to sit down and think about how they could do more to help. The Football Association could perhaps be a little firmer. I think we should know why the players aren't here in Israel.
We hear rumours and gossip but we can't put those things on the air. There are reasons that players who have pulled out who perhaps aren't injured. That's their right to do that but I think the public should know why they have chosen not to represent their country.
It's probably down to those who advise them - they may have been asked 'do you need this at the end of a long season?' or it's down to being influenced by others not coming or being worried of ending up on the wrong end of a result that could tarnish their reputation.
There was a time when playing for England was a way of enhancing your earnings as a professional footballer - now it comes with the territory but it's not essential.
I'm full of admiration for the Spanish Federation and we should look at what they do with all their success at all age levels. It's compulsory to play if called up. They suspend players if they don't turn up - they banned a Real Madrid player for two years - later cut to six months - because the penny dropped but now everybody turns up.
Should the FA adopt the same policy? It would be a draconian thing to do and I've always preferred conciliation over confrontation. There must be something. Watching the Norwegian match got me really thinking. I worked with Greg Dyke (new FA chief) at ITV and I hope he listens to the things coming out of this tournament. He's someone who will take issues head on and try to improve it.
Do the public want a successful England team? It's only a minority of players but they're good players and the public need to know why they aren't turning up and at least have the facts and perhaps they can put pressure on the clubs they support to get their players turning out for England.
If the players are hearing in one ear that they can only play for 45 minutes, what chance do England have of building a team? You can't do it. The managers who say we shouldn't have international friendlies - what do they do? Do they have pre-season friendlies? Do they want to build their team? Of course they do - that's football logic. There are a lot of issues but they need to sit around the table and ask if they care about national football. We care about it and I hope everybody watching it cares about it.
The FA may well say that players need rest and yes, of course they do. But you can still structure the season in such a way to accommodate that. Norway had four players who had played the night before and they came back and wanted to be part of the set-up. It's different over there with players wanting to put themselves in the shop window and push for a move, while our players are worried what their clubs will say. There must be a balance. We're having these types of conversations because it's not right.
Stuart Pearce has done well but it must be like managing with an arm tied behind your back. He admitted 17 players were on his radar that couldn't start against Italy. That's 17 candidates not available for the opening game of a tournament that's a very high standard.
Apart from Wayne Rooney - who went straight through to the senior level - most players come through the under-21 set-up. James Milner had a wonderful U-21 career and many thought he wouldn't make the senior level. Look at how well he's done.
These England players will be hurting in their hotel in Israel but if it drives their ambition then maybe it's a good thing. I just hope those players who aren't here are thinking they're glad they missed the tournament. That's not the way to go.
Playing for your country is a wonderful thing. You can win all the things in the world but if you play for your country it's something special. If it isn't any more and the league sides don't want that to happen then we'll just wind down. Even reaching a final would be seen as an achievement.
At the moment, England are still expected to do well. Qualifying we still do very well and when we get there I've had a lot of Sky Sports conversations at the end of tournaments like this. I did an U-18 tournament in 1993 when England won it.
I haven't got many years left as a commentator and I'd love to have said those words: "England have won the World Cup".