Though admitting no one else on offer could match the qualifications of newly hired England manager Fabio Capello, PFA head Gordon Taylor (above) argues to the Independent’s Steve Tongue, “unless they sort out the whole structure and gear it to a proper Team England, it’s like changing the deckchairs on the Titanic.”

“There’s no squad of trained coaches here used to international football. Everybody’s looking for instant solutions. You can’t criticise the appointment, in that nobody could challenge Capello’s CV, but the reason why they’ve appointed him is one of the reasons why we’ve failed to qualify. It’s ironic that we’ve got Capello from Italy, a country wherethey manage to do well in the Champions’ League but still win the World Cup.”Here, as club football has increased, the international side has gone the other way. Are we bothered, and if we are, is the appointment of a new manager, albeit a top-quality one, going to make a difference?”

Taylor’s solutions, all backed up by impressive statistics, include bringing through a higher proportion of English players and stopping wastage at the age of 18; granting more authority to Sir Trevor Brooking and his desire for a nationalfootball centre; and a winter break. “One of the surveys we did showed that countries with a midwinter break had 50 per cent less injuries in January, February and March, then four times less in April and May. We’ve put a lot of money into youth development but the failure rate is very bad; if it was a school looking at exam results they’d consider closing it down. We’re still losing five out of six young players, dropping out in this black hole between the ages of 18 and 21. Instead we’re becoming a finishing school for the rest of the world, whose players love to play here and take that experience into international football.”

Another report commissioned by the PFA, who celebrated their centenary two weeks ago, claimed that the percentage of English players appearing in the Premier League has almost halved, from 71 per cent in 1992 to 38 per cent last season. “They say the cream comes to the top, but the actual amount of milk is shrinking alarmingly,” Taylor says. “It’s not anti-Arsenal or anti-foreigners, it’s a matter of encouraging clubs to develop their own young players irrespective of nationality. Then they’d get some value from their academies, on which millions have been spent. But of course it’s not Arsène Wenger’s job or Rafa Benitez’s to look after the England team, and neither is it the owners of those clubs now. That’s the FA’s job, and they’ve got to decide whether we just want one of the best club systems in the world, which we have, or is it not important to get some sort of balance, like Italy?”

While we’re on the paucity of English talent in the Premier League, Arsenal remained in first place with a 1-0 home victory over Chelsea earlier today thanks to some blooper reel-worthy goalkeeping by Peter Cech. For the Gunners, it was their first defeat of their West London foes since 2004, while it was Chelsea’s first loss in nearly 3 months.

Amidst all the mania earlier this week surrounding the build-up and aftermath of the Roger Clemens Butt Injection story, I neglected to mention the former Metro Stars have hired their 10th coach in 11 years, this time in the person of recent Chicago Fire gaffer Juan Carlos Osorio.
While it’s far too early for me to speculate how Osorio’s tenure in the Meadlowlands will work out, I look forward to many questions at his introductory press conference about this Gate D nonsense.