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Sweet FA 2016-17 Podcast Five: The England National Team’s Real Problems

Welcome to the fifth Sweet FA podcast of the 2016-17 season. Some people try to blame the failures of the England national team on the number of foreign players in the Premier League. Regular panellists, Rob Mitchell and Hugo Jennings, look to blow this myth out of the water.

This podcast looks through the history of the England national team and shows that, the anomaly of the 1966 World Cup aside, results have been very repetitive over the years. Before the influx of foreign talent into the Premier League, things were nowhere near as rosy as some may try to pretend. In fact, England’s performances in qualification and at major tournaments was often worse than it is today.

Along with the myth-busting, the two look at the country’s real footballing problems and compare the England national team’s infrastructure to those in other countries and in other British sports teams. Great Britain’s cyclists were miles behind the best nations only a few decades ago; now they are the most dominant force in the sport. Why can’t the footballers replicate their success?

Hugo and Rob try to look at all of England’s problems on and off the field. For example, is the lack of education which many of our footballers receive in comparison to sportsmen in other countries harmful to their careers? Are the English too stuck in their ways when it comes to thinking about the tactical and physical side of football?

The talk of tactics leads into one of the final topics of discussion in this week’s podcast: the England manager’s job. Why would anyone in their right mind want to take on a job that only seems to guarantee pressure, disappointment and witch-hunts? The unnecessary pressure put on players and managers alike cannot be healthy and the two look at how much this has affected teams’ performances in major tournaments over the years.


Robert Mitchell covers a range of sports for, including the NFL, Rugby, Formula 1 and the Premier League. Author of the Co$t of Winning column focused on the business of sport, he is also the host of Last Word Radio’s Rugby show Absolute Flanker and an analyst on Sweet FA.

Hugo runs A regular on Sweet FA and occasional panellist on Treble Radio, he mostly writes about Arsenal, Spanish football and cricket. He is a season-ticket holder at Arsenal.

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