'We are being conned'

Last Updated: 23/11/07 10:35am

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Former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston has launched a scathing attack on the FA, insisting they are "conning" the English public.

"At grass roots there is a much, much bigger problem because the foreign kids are outnumbering the English kids in the academies. That is suicide."
Craig Johnston Quotes of the week

Australian Johnston, who is heavily involved in coaching young players at grass-roots level, is furious that the FA are conducting their own inquiry into the national game after their failures at the 2006 World Cup and in Euro 2008 qualifying.

Johnston insists an independent body should conduct the inquiry and claims officials and players are taking too much money out of the game.

In a passionate interview on Sky Sports News, he said: "Why am I the only angry person? Everybody's talking, but nobody is putting in a process in place with checks and balances.

"The FA say they want a root and branch inquiry, but they are conducting it. Are you kidding? I haven't forgiven those guys for what they did in Germany with the 'golden generation'.

"They conned us then. They conned us the other night. And now they are going to inquire about themselves? Who is kidding who here?

"In what other industry in the world can you under-achieve so much, but still get paid so much? They are paying off Steve McClaren with a £2.5million bonus for not getting us there and then they will pay themselves for doing an inquiry. We are all being conned.

"I am really angry and somebody independent needs to tell these guys what they are doing. I'm not looking for a job and I don't need a job, but I will do it for nothing.

"Would any of the players ever play for nothing?"

Grass-roots problems

Johnston insists there are major problems at the top of the sport, but it is even worse at grass-roots level where English youngsters are not working hard enough and are being outnumbered in academies by foreign talent.

He added: "It's been going wrong for 30-40 years. When Kevin Keegan was the England manager he made an amazing statement, saying English kids are lazy.

"And the reason the clubs are buying so many foreigners is because they are technically proficient. Just like the Croats the other night. They played better football and that's why they are in the European Championships and England are not.

"They can change the pace of the play because they can hold onto the ball, but English kids give the ball away.

"There is a problem at national level and that is very clear for all to see in terms of touch and feel, but more importantly there is a heart issue.

"We know English teams are best when they come from behind. Look at the rugby players, look at the cricketers when they won the Ashes. But that fighting spirit wasn't there the other night - it was only there for 10 minutes just after David Beckham came on. That was disgraceful.

"I don't know why I'm upset by this because I'm not even English, but I've lived here for 25 years and the country has given me a marvellous living.

"I'm angry, so why aren't English people more angry about what is happening at the national level and at grass roots?


"At grass roots there is a much, much bigger problem because the foreign kids are outnumbering the English kids in the academies. That is suicide. You may as well jump off a cliff now because that is wrong.

"Managers aren't stupid. They are bringing foreign players he because they are better than their English counterparts. The kids aren't good enough and that shows you how badly things have been mismanaged by the FA for many, many years.

"The solution is hard work. It's what the Italian kids do, what the Brazilian kids do and what the Argentinean kids do. These kids have no money, no toys and no future. They spend hours and hours with a football until the sun goes down and after.

"Do the English kids do that? No they don't. It hasn't happened since the days of Stanley Matthews. Bobby Charlton will tell kids to draw a cross on a brick wall and hit it with their left foot and with their right foot and keep going until their feet start to bleed."

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