He also says it is “laughable” that Fabio Capello’s side are still rated amongst the favourites to win major tournaments, and believes the Three Lions will not do so until it starts to mirror the selfless ethos of World and European champions Spain.“It was a frustration for us United lads,” he added of spending time in camp with other players.“When there is a simple pass of 10 yards, they might try and smack it 80 yards. They will do things to try and get themselves noticed. If you look at the Spain team now, they all seem to play for each other. There isn’t one of them who would try to do something in a game that doesn’t suit the team. And that could happen over here. If you look through our teams, there are loads of technically brilliant players but for some reason when we go on to the international scene, we don’t look like that. We’re the favourites every time and we probably will be next time. I think it is quite laughable. It is just the mentality of English people, we think we are going to win everything.”
The logic seems impeccable, I suppose: take the best individual players from the best club teams in the best domestic league in the world and put them all together, and something magic has to happen. Yet England consistently disappoint on the international stage. Football is a strange game like that.
I remember, funny enough, a British coach from my youth soccer days who used to holler at his players whenever they’d start sending too many long passes through the air: “NO BOOM-BALL!” When I’d go to state team tryouts, the best players and coaches all stressed the importance of making short passes on the ground to keep control of a game. Even American youth teams knew that much, is what I’m saying. But one of the most annoying things about watching English professional games is the number of times they turn into a series of long passes being sent sixty or seventy yards through the air, only to get knocked down and sent back the other way, repeated ad nauseum. The English sure do love the typical tall, strong striker who can win headers off of long passes, but it’s a low-probability attack, and Scholes is right: with the success of not only the Spanish national team, but their domestic teams like Barcelona, stocked with small, quick, technically flawless players, you’d think the Brits might start catching on sometime.