Posted by admin | Posted in Jermaine Defoe | Posted on 13-05-2012-05-2008
Ian Wright has always come across as one of those great characters of the game. One of those players the game so badly lacks currently, as the money and celebrity factors surrounding football have caused the levels of pure passion to dwindle.
Wright was a man characterised by passion, a man who absolutely loved what he did when playing the game, before taking that into the gantries as a pundit.
His enthusiasm and passion for England has always come across impressively, with his participation at international level clearly meaning the world to him, and only restricted by the vast level of competition posed to him at the time.
Taking time out from filming the official Carlsberg Euro 2012 commercial, Wright appeared thoughtful and as lively as ever, although his natural enthusiasm for the national team was sheltered by a degree of reservation, cautious not to fail victim to the ease at which we raise our hopes whenever England enter major Finals.
“I don’t think we’ve got a good chance. I base that purely on how prepared we are. We don’t know who’s playing centre-back, we don’t know who’s playing up front. It’s not ideal preparations to go into a major tournament.
“People will talk about Denmark and how they came off the beach to win Euro ’92, but they had a coach in place and a team that knew each other. We have no steady team and don’t know who our captain is going to be. It’s not ideal.
“I think that we should go into it not expecting too much and anything we get, we should take wholeheartedly.”
The management situation is something that particularly grates with Wright, who was an outspoken critic of Fabio Capello’s regime. And he believes it is a problem for England that there were so few candidates to succeed the Italian.
“It was quite baffling really, because his (Capello’s) CV was up there in respect of the teams and the players that he’s had. Like that AC Milan team which we all remember was unbelievable.
“I think that the last World Cup was about as embarrassing as it gets for England in respect of the way we performed. then to top it off Germany really gave us a good hiding to really compound everything. I thought he should have been a lot more culpable for that, there should have been some form of inquest as to why we performed so badly after qualifying so comfortably.
“It’s been embarrassing that we haven’t got a queue of candidates (for the England job). We don’t seem to be giving English managers a chance to manage at the top end of football so that they can actually get the experience in the Champions League. You need that experience when it comes to managing top players with attitudes and egos and temperaments.”
Some have suggested that the lack of expectation from the public and the media could help the players this summer and the former England striker feels this could be the case, although more in hope than expectation.
“Being an England player myself, you do feel a certain pressure from the media and everybody who wants England to do so well. because there are good players in England, there have always been good players in England, so we’ve really underachieved at international level in respect to winning things.
“Things compounded when Greece won the European Championships, it made us feel that maybe we should have achieved a lot more.
“But I think there is a lot of pressure on the boys and I don’t think it is something that is easy to handle. People think it’s easy to handle, but maybe going into a competition like this without too much expectation, maybe the guys will just play with freedom.”
Wright played for England in a time when the country was blessed with strikers. The Arsenal marksman found himself competing for a starting berth with the likes of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler, whilst the emergence of Michael Owen proved yet another obstacle to overcome.
Now England find themselves heading into a tournament with only one striker recognised as international class, with Wayne Rooney also being forced out of the opening two matches through suspension.
Wright laments the situation, but is at a loss to explain why England fail to produce any strikers of sustained quality.
“Who is there? I don’t know who’s going. Is it going to be (Daniel) Sturridge who came on and did well against Holland? Danny Welbeck, who else is there? Jermain Defoe isn’t starting a lot recently, Darren Bent is injured. Is Andy Carroll showing the kind of form to go to the Euros and light it up? I don’t think so.
“People are talking about Grant Holt, who has had one good season in the Premier League. there isn’t a lot to choose from and that is a sad state of affairs.”
England has struggled to produce players of a world class standing for a number of years now, and Wright is adamant that our problem is trying to re-create the styles of other countries, as opposed to sticking with what made England great.
“Chris Waddle and John Barnes were people that could play at high tempo and were technically very good. Focus on a game that England can play, that other teams are uncomfortable with. it would be hard to do it, because to play at certain temperatures or certain tempos and play technical football, is going to be hard. but if you’ve got defensive midfielders, which is very much the norm now, in front of the back four, then the forward players should be able to go forward and express themselves.
“I think we put too much emphasis on worrying about how Spain play and how other teams play rather than thinking about what we’re like when we’re playing good football, like we did in ’96 or 1990. We played some really good football, top quality players with real endeavour and vigour and passion. Nobody could live with us.
“Whether we’ve got the kind of players to replicate that kind of performance, I don’t think we have. but that’s what we should be trying to do, teach our youngsters a high tempo, technical game.”
Common consensus amongst people is that English footballers have too many distractions to make themselves a success, with Emmanuel Petit saying that an alcohol culture plagues British football.
Fellow Arsenal legend Wright agrees to some extent that there are some distractions for footballers, but does not feel that alcohol is a problem for the game to be worried about.
“The fact that a young player, a 20 year old player has got 4 or 5 cars, maybe before they play 100 games, maybe that can be distracting.
“It’s going to take a certain kind of player not to be distracted by the glamour that comes with becoming a successful footballer or player with massive potential. it all comes down to being with the right manager and what the player wants to achieve. Do they want to do something or say ‘I’ve got 25 watches and 7 cars?’
“Our culture is drinking beer, but I’ve been with Italian players and Spanish players and they will drink and smoke pre-match. I’m not saying that if we did that, it would spiral out of control, but if you look at different cultures, that’s just the way we are.
“If you’re a professional person and have got a professional attitude, it doesn’t make a difference what your drinking culture was. I was in a football club with a massive drinking culture, but we achieved everything that we wanted to achieve.
“People want to put too much emphasis on that, and that’s a problem for society, not just for football.”
It looks set to be a long hard summer for England, when even one of their biggest and most passionate supporters fails to see any way in which England can compete for glory at Euro 2012, or future years on the horizon.
Ian Wright was speaking during a break from filming the latest Carlsberg advert. Carlsberg is The Official Beer of The England Football Team and sponsor of UEFA EURO 2012™.
The television commercial will be available on tele from Friday 11th may or you can watch it below: