Friday, July 9, 2010

Harry Redknapp Diffuses Tottenham-England Row Ahead of U19 Euro Finals

As England U19's head to France for the UEFA European Championships, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has moved to diffuse a massive club versus country row. England manager Noel Blake had initially wanted four to five of Spurs' youth players, only for club chairman Daniel Levy to want the players for Tottenham's preseason training.

Prior to Friday's naming of the squad for the tournament, Sir Dave Richards, the chairman of Club England, had written to each of the interested clubs requesting the release of his named players.
However, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, and Tottenham Hotspur all returned letters querying the request, stating that the players requested would all be needed for their clubs preseason tours and training.
This then prompted Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's Director of Youth Development, to go public in an effort at changing the clubs minds.
"We have a European Championship which will be a fantastic experience.
"The Premier and Football League clubs said they would support us, so clubs would release them, and yet now there are a few whose clubs want to take them on preseason trips.
"We have five lads we might have issues with. They will never get that tournament experience against quality opposition otherwise. Phil Jones, the Blackburn lad and a first-team player, who is outstanding, will be a key player if we are going to do any good in that tournament. We have Nathan Delfouneso, a key player, and we want him released by Aston Villa."
The Spurs players in question were Steven Caulker, Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason, Dean Parrett, and John Bostock.
Caulker and Mason both had highly impressive loan spells with Yeovil Town in League One last season where they played 46 and 28 times respectively.
Centre back Caulker only missed one game in a successful term, as he was away on international duty with Blake's U19's, and won four out of five end of season awards at the Glovers.
Townsend spent the end of the 2008/09 season on loan at Yeovil Town before moving on to Leyton Orient for the start of the 2009/10 season. He made 22 appearances scoring two goals, one a memorable 80 yard run and finish against Yeovil.
When his loan with the Glovers finished in December he moved on to the MK Dons, but injuries forced his return to White Hart Lane after just nine games.
Parrett and Bostock both spent most of last season with Spurs' youth team and were inspirational in the side winning their league section.
There are high hopes at Tottenham for all five players, especially Caulker and Bostock who many have tipped to break into Harry Redknapp's squad this year.
With Blake facing his entire midfield being ripped apart, Spurs contribute four players. It was hoped that Brooking, an ex-West Ham boy, would have some level of influence with the Redknapp, also a ex-Hammer.
"I had a word with the chairman and the kids were released.
"It's a great honour to play for your country and we wouldn't want to stop them from playing. It's important, whatever age group, whatever level, it's something you strive for.
"I have never stopped anyone from playing for their country wherever they are from. I always encourage that and this is no different. If they need the kids we will get it sorted out."
His words seems to have done the trick as his chairman released the players under the pre-text that their development would be better served in the tournament.
One of the biggest questions facing the FA over England's latest World Cup debacle and exit is based upon tournament mentality.
With players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard amongst others going public during the tournament stating their dislike at being cooped up for several weeks causing many to question. Why is this?
The answer is found in the English Premier League where club is put before country time and time again—where clubs deem preseason training more important than European Championship Finals.
The end result is a nation with a bunch of top players who do not know how to function at final tournaments as they have no experience.
Contrast the English system with the German one. Almost exactly one year prior to the day of Germany beating England 4-1, the German U21's beat the England U21's 4-0 in the Final of the European Championships in Sweden.
Five of that German side went on to partake in this years World Cup with four of them being important parts of the starting XI: Neuer, Boateng, Khedira, and Ozil. Whereas only one player from England's U21's, James Milner, even made it into Fabio Capello's final 23.
It is little wonder that Mesuit Ozil commented:
"If you find the greatest tournament on earth boring, then you probably shouldn't be here."
When England were beaten 4-1 by Germany, they had been together for just 26 days, Germany were moving into their 57th day together.
As it stands Spurs have released all their players for England duty, but a number of Premiership clubs like Blackburn, Everton, and Arsenal have all refused to allow their teenage stars to join up with Blake's squad at Warwick University.
England were placed in Group A of the eight team tournament where they will face hosts France, Austria, and Netherlands.
Group B sees Croatia, Spain, Italy, and Portugal go head to head to win the right to make it through to the semifinals. The top two teams from each group advance.
Without the likes of Jack Wilshire (Arsenal), Jack Rodwell (Everton), and Phil Jones (Blackburn), the Three Lions hopes have been hit severely
It must be said that Stuart Pearce deserves much of the blame for Jones' absence as he has told Blackburn that he wants him for August 10 for England's U21's.
Blake was quick to put a brave face on the matter.
"It’s a good group of players that we’ve got and it’s a group that we’re looking forward to working with," he said.
"The lads we wanted, we have managed to get, so I’m pleased with the squad and we’re looking forward to it.

"It’s the next progression, they’ve all been involved in qualifying, so they’re the ones that are going to the Finals.
The likes of Matthew James, Declan Rudd, Matthew Briggs, and Delfouneso were all part of the qualification squad, so their collective experience can only serve as a help to newcomers.
He went on to say, "we will work with them over the next week and then see where that takes us.
"Experience definitely helps and obviously we had six under-age lads last year and most of them are coming along again, aside from big Nile Ranger who is injured."
"The boys who are in there again made a good contribution last year and we’re looking forward to them leading the group this year."

England fly out to Normandy on July 15, before they take on Austria (July 18), Holland (July 21) and finally France (July 24). Should they progress to the knockout stages they will play on July 27 with the Final on July 30.
With the club vs. country row sure to rumble on Trevor Brooking had this to say:
"It's the best against the best and that has got to be better than a few pre-season games."
"These tournaments are the only way to really benchmark our players. There really is no substitute for tournament football..."

England U19 Squad: Caps after team name
Declan Rudd (Norwich) 6 caps, Lee Nicholls (Wigan) 0 caps.
Matthew Briggs (Fulham) 12 caps, Reece Brown (Manchester United) 8 caps, Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur) 7 caps, Nathan Baker (Aston Villa) 6 caps, Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace) 5 caps, Thomas Cruise (Arsenal) 3 caps, Josh Thompson (Celtic) 2 caps.
Matthew James (Preston) 9 caps, Jacob Mellis (Chelsea) 8 caps, Dean Parrett (Tottenham Hotspur) 8 caps, Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) 6 caps, John Bostock (Tottenham Hotspur) 4 caps, Matt Phillips (Wycombe) 2 caps.
Nathan Delfounso (Aston Villa) 22 caps, Ryan Donaldson (Newcastle) 7 caps, Frank Nouble (West Ham) 5 caps.