'We are being conned'

Last updated: 23rd November 2007  

'We are being conned'
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

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

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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Comments (7)

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Peter Barrow (Arsenal fan) says...

Can Alan Shearer manage England? With his international experience, if he was German, Dutch or Italian, who understand fluent football and fluid movement you would say yes. Look at the way Germany have had ex players (Beckenbauer, Voghts & Klinsman) become the assistant mngr and then take over from the current manager after a world cup campaign. (Not unlike the Ryder cup Captain) The opportunity to have created the ex player dynasty could have started with Hoddle and a younger ex player, like Lineker The problem is, so few of our ex & current players have played abroad and experienced the vastly more professional coaching and man management. How can players, professional athletes like the Spurs and England keeper, be considered so overweight by a new continental manager? Why don't English clubs train the same number of hours as foreign clubs? Is it because too many ex british players are within the coaching set ups of clubs and finishing at 12.30 is far better than finishing at 3.30? Enough time to go horseracing perhaps German clubs physically train in the morning, then skills train in the afternoon. Why don't British managed clubs? Mclaren should have gone for picking Sammy Lee and Ray Clemence on his caoching team. Did Clemence bother to consider the weather forecast and instruct the groundstaff to wet the surface in front of one of the practice goals to remind Carson of what would face him on Wednesday? No and this is the typical lack of professionalism that runs through English football

Posted 15:29 25th November 2007

Eamon Russell (Everton fan) says...

First job get a good manager in. Plse Jose come and save us! Heads need to roll at the FA. If a player is not doing the buisness he gets dropped , a manager will get the sack. What bout the FA? Thy are not doing there job. I think we do all know what needs to be done. More english players in the prem. Better coaching methods, more work with the ball. Sunday leauge is to pressured for kids theys should be having fun. The likes of brazil are so good on the ball cos they dont stop messing about with with it. We should do 90% ball work and it will become more natural. Ronald said he learnt more messing with his mates when he was young than anything. The fans have said from the start that steve mac was not the right man. Now if we knew this why didnt the FA???? I could have told them that from the start. I would love to just see a real football person i charge at the FA instead of suits!!!

Posted 22:21 24th November 2007

Geoff Leech (Blackburn Rovers fan) says...

Four times now I have passed comment on this site on how inept the england team have been under Steve Maclaren. Not once have I had one printed. Before they kicked a ball in the match on Wednesday it was a well known fact that there was no leadership. Most of the pundits on TV are yes men and seem reluctant to give an honest opinion, for fear of not being popular,everything is beautiful. If I could see it coming a mile off,why couldn't they? after all it's supposed to be their profession now. Are they gagged and only allowed to tell us what the majority want to hear? The england team seem to consist of players that used to be good and good ones, not good ones and inform players. To get us out of this mess we need someone who doesn't follow the flock and believes in their own ability.

Posted 20:05 24th November 2007

Coach Kab (Liverpool fan) says...

Let's address a key issue in English football. It is a multi-cultural sport. So the game cannot be played with the same pride and passion idealogy of the past (often reffered to as British Bulldog spirit). It has never won us anything at international level for 40+ years. Instead, we should be pushing for players at all levels with flair on the ball. We should be encouraging youth to dribble and display tricks in games. Never mind the idea of kicking to a target on a brick wall, we should use the methods of freestyle football to create world class play. Players like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi, Robinho, Quaresma, Kaka, and Riquelme should be upheld as models of how to play the game. In England we have had players like John Barnes, Chris Waddle, Glen Hoddle, Matt Le Tissuer, Paul Gasgoigne, Steve Coppell, Laurie Cunningham, Stan Collymore, Steve McManaman, Cyrille Regis, Mark Chamberlain, Vince Hillaire, Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh, Frank Worthington, Andy Cole, Robbie Fowler, Ian Wright, and the like all mis-used, under-used, ignored, or never given a solid run at international level. So much flair, speed and/or dribbling ability wasted. We have become the laughing stock of world football because of the ignorance of managers like Greenwood, Robson, Taylor, Venables, Hoddle, Eriksson and now McClaren in not selecting players with skill and flair in their fear of losing. From '74 to '08, in all tournaments we have failed, even when we reached the semis, we under performed because 3-4 great players were left out in favour of some workhorse who achieved nothing. The 2 best managers in the world are Wenger and Rijkaard because of the way they encourage their teams to play (not just the results). We need a manager like that to lead England. The one available would be Jurgen KLINNSMANN. He has the courage, vision, style and confidence to make England a winner with flair, and build a team of diverse style.

Posted 19:29 24th November 2007

Goonerfor Sixtyyears (Arsenal fan) says...

Pity that interview wasn't printed exactly word for word and with all the emotion that Craig put into it. Best bit of 'talk' TV I've seen in months He's 100% accurate. What chance of finding a British solution though? Consider...not one current English premiership manager has experience of European Cup ...and who is the best performing English manager of the past 10 years? Wait for it...Steve McLaren. I fear that it's not just the FA to blame but government, local councils (who like selling off sports fields), schools and play stations.

Posted 14:52 23rd November 2007

Mark Doran (Aston Villa fan) says...

Finally someone who talks sense. Get rid of Barwick and all the other suits at the FA because they are are to blame, also for us not qualifying and giving players bumper paydays. Get Jonstone in as Chief at the FA and let''s start getting players in who believe what it means to pull on the 3 lions and will play with pride, passion and belief. Even if it means picking league 1,2 or 3 players. These so called stars aren''t interested anymore and being paid to play for England is a disgrace. They should be proud to get a shirt and represent the country and everyone in it!

Posted 10:45 23rd November 2007

Neil Mather (Manchester City fan) says...

Totally and utterly agree with everything Craig has said. We also pretend our players are the best and our league is the best.Stop kidding yourselves it''s not. Gerrard is a yard dog in comparison to even Croat players yet we claim he is world class. Chasing around like a kitten after a piece of wool does not make you a top player, yes you Gerrard, Barton, Reo Coker, Parker, Butt, Smith, Bowyer.Learn how to pass!

Posted 10:17 23rd November 2007

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