Game of Monopoly
Jamie Redknapp hails Spain's 'sensational' side - but says they are not for England to emulate.
Last Updated: 02/07/12 3:50pm
Jamie Redknapp believes Spain's "sensational" side can go on to reign over European and World football for years to come - but he insists they are not the team England should try to emulate.
The former Liverpool and England midfielder was awestruck by Spain's 4-0 demolition of Italy in the final of Euro 2012 on Sunday night. With their unyielding supremacy at senior level and their sustained success at junior ranks, Redknapp believes their dominance will continue for the foreseeable future.
"They played the most incredible football match that you would ever wish to see," he told Sky Sports News. "The football they played was sensational, the way the kept the ball. Every player's first touch was immaculate, and it was so difficult to get close to. It was a real master class in how to play football, incredible. They were completely on another level to anybody. Nobody could have competed against them."
Redknapp added: "They are now the winners of the under-19 European Championships and the under-21s as well, so there is a conveyor belt of players coming through and it is very difficult to see their monopoly stopping."
In defeating the Azzuri, Spain became the first national team to win three major tournaments in succession. On those grounds as well as the style of their football and the way in which they have transformed the game, they deserve to be recognised among the greatest teams of all time according to Redknapp.
He said: "I played against the French team in '98 and 2000 and that was a very special football team but so is this and I think we need to celebrate what they are doing now because they are almost changing the way football is played. To achieve what they have is immense."
While Spain have been hailed as the pass masters and the pioneers of possession-obsessed football, England have been widely criticised for their lack of technical ability on the ball and their continued struggle to produce players with the skill required to dominate and ultimately breakdown teams. For Redknapp it is a cultural and philosophical chasm, which may never be breached.
"It is almost unfair to make that comparison because they are miles ahead of anybody," he said. "I don't think we should be looking at Spain yet as our benchmark. They have a different philosophy on football. Everything is manyana (tomorrow) in Spain, they take their time and that is how they play their football.
"But I don't think fans want that here. We want to see end-to-end football, we want to see great games. So I think Germany is probably a better role model for us. They changed how they played adopted a formation of 4-3-3 - 4-4-2 is a dated formation now and we have to change that because you are never going to produce players and you could see how tiring it was for our players in midfield. Other teams are playing different ways and we have to adopt that formation."
However, Redknapp does not believe the red-herring of trying to copy Spain's style and tactical template should deter English football from trying to produce, and crucially encourage, more technically accomplished players.
"Players like Xavi and Iniesta, if they were English they might not have even got a game because we said they were not physically strong enough," he said. "If you look at Leon Britton of Swansea, he has had the highest pass completion rate in the Premier League. He had to go and play in League Two, League One, the Championship, and it's almost like we've had to find out that he can play. Players like that have to be produced.
"As much as anything it is about creating good coaches and people who want to work with young players and not dismissing good technical footballers who perhaps might look at 12 or 13 years of age too small."