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Anorak | The decline of English centre backs is a myth

The decline of English centre backs is a myth

by | 21st, March 2013

SOCCER

IN “Dying breed: The decline of the English centre back is bad news for Hodgson” Martin Keown laments the state of English-born defenders. He illustrates the decline with some examples. He writes in the Daily Mail:

Look at the Under 21 squad of 20 years ago and the likes of Darren Anderton, Andy Cole, Steve McManaman, Rob Jones, Ugo Ehiogu and Lee Clark were all playing regularly for their clubs.

Aside from the former Aston Villa player Ugo Ehiogu, none of the others Keown cites operated in central defence.

That England Under 21 team on 7/9/1993 was (see above): UGO EHIOGU, IAN WALKER, MATT JACKSON, CHRIS SUTTON, GARRY FLITCROFT, NEIL COX, BRYAN SMALL, ANDY COLE, STEVE MCMANAMAN, JAMIE REDKNAPP, DARREN ANDERTON.

The central defenders were:

Ugo Ehiogu played 4 times for Villa in the 1992-1993 season.

Neil Cox: played 14 times for Aston Villa in the 1992-1993 season.

Were they  playing any more regularly than today’s crop of central defenders? When England played Serbia in the Euro Under-21 play-offs on October 16, 2012, the centre halves were Steven Caulker and Craig Dawson.

Caulker played 26 times for Spurs in season 2011-2012. He has played 27 times the current season thus far for Spurs.

Dawson played 3 times for Premier League West Brom this season before being loaned to Bolton in the Championship. In season 2011-20-1 he played for West Brom 12 times.

So. Keown is wrong. Today’s England defenders are playing more regularly than their 1993 counterparts.

And how good was that 1993 team? The 1994 Under-21s European Championship qualifying table tells a bleak story:

POLAND 10 7 0 3 26-10 21
Turkey 10 6 2 2 15-10 20
Norway 10 6 1 3 20-13 19
England 10 4 3 3 20- 8 15
Netherlands 10 3 2 5 11-14 11
San Marino 10 0 0 10 3-40 0

What about 10 years before that? The England team that played in the Turkey v England U21 International match on the 13th November 1984 was: Wayne Fereday, Gary Lund, Ian Snodin, Ian Butterworth, Chris Fairclough, David Seaman, Paul Parker, Danny Wallace, Barry Venison, Paul Bracewell and Trevor Steven.

They also failed to qualify for the European Championship Finals. Indeed, between 1990 and 1998s, England failed to qualify for five Under-21 finals on the bounce.

So. Those glory days of great English central defenders were from a period of utter failure. The current England Under-21 team have qualified for the European Championship Finals.

Keown is wrong. English central defenders are not a dying breed. But they are getting better*.

* You can thank the massive influx of foreign players and increased comptetion for that.

 



Posted: 21st, March 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink