Friday, 3 December 2010
Why do British Exports not succeed
For some reason British football exports do not seem to succeed; many high profile players have tried but very few have succeeded. There have been many varied opinions offered as to the reasons but it remains somewhat of a mystery. Whether it is the ability to pick up the language, adapt to the culture or the simply the change in football style every case has been different.
Over the recent years Steve McManaman had the most success at Real Madrid where he lifted the La Liga title and the Champions League trophy twice each during a 4 year spell. He attributed his success to adapting very quickly to the different lifestyle and more importantly settled into the Madrid style of football very quickly. McManaman was at Real during the Galacticos years and every season was on the verge of leaving before turning it round in his favour. He learnt Spanish very quickly and became a huge favourite with the Madrid faithful.
The most recent high profile export has been David Beckham. He is somewhat unique in this debate as wherever he goes he appears to settle very quickly without really immersing himself in the culture. Whilst he was a success for most of his time at Madrid he never had an incredible understanding of the language and a similar thing happened when he was in Italy with AC Milan.
There have of course been some real flops in recent times. Jonathan Woodgate joined Real Madrid in 2004 and spent the majority of his time there injured. By the time he finally made his debut he made an impact, but not the one he was looking for; he scored an own goal and got sent off. In 2007 he was voted the worst signing Madrid had made in the 21st century.
Of course many of the players who leave Britain do not always end up at such high profile clubs. There isn’t one British player representing a side in the top flight in Germany, Holland, Italy or Spain which is a concerning fact. Almost all of the top European Nations have players playing in the Premier League and nearly all are represented in all of the major leagues in Europe. Playing in other top leagues enables you to learn how to adapt to different styles of football which helps the national side and improves you as a player.
However, this is not by any means a compulsory measure to ensure National success. The Italian’s are very similar to British players in that they don’t travel abroad as much and they won the World Cup in 2006. I really think it goes further into the society and culture here. Football is more physical in this country than in Europe where the importance is placed on technique.
I feel that the main reason for players not adapting to different European leagues is their inability to adjust their playing style. The coaching in this country is clearly very good but we need to produce more players like Jack Wilshire who you feel could play in any league across Europe because of his technical prowess. There is still the issue of settling in new surroundings but you can only do that effectively if you have the ability to succeed in your new environment first.