Former England winger John Barnes has claimed the national side will never be a success until it embraces socialism.
“Football is a socialist sport,” he said. “Financially, some may receive more rewards than others but, from a footballing perspective, for 90 minutes, regardless of whether you are Lionel Messi or the substitute right-back for Argentina, you are all working to the same end.
“The teams which embrace the socialist ideology rather than having superstars, are the teams that are successful,” Barnes told the Evening Standard. “Players from other nations when they play for their country are once again a socialist entity, all pulling in the same direction.”
Like so many of his countrymen, Barnes believes the explosion in global popularity of the Premier League is to blame, saying: “The Premier League has taken over the importance, prestige and kudos of the game.
“The Premier League has created a monster. They have produced these players who are fine in club football winning the Champions League. But they have also generated an illusion that we are the best in the world, which we are not. The Premier League is the biggest and the best league in the world, so we think we should win the World Cup. But we shouldn’t.
“We have empowered our players so much that they are superstars at their clubs. Too many have been put on pedestals and treated as untouchable.”
His words will ring true with the English football fan who saw almost every member of Fabio Capello’s squad fail to reproduce their club form at the World Cup. England’s dismal campaign yielded a win, two draws and a loss, with just two goals scored.
And Barnes dismissed criticism of Fabio Capello, singling out the Golden Generation instead. “These players now feel subconsciously that they are the biggest part of the solution when we do well. But when we do badly they’re not a part of the problem.
“An England failure leads to a blame game: Capello and his strictness, the pitch, the ball. Or that we need to get more players in to support Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. We’ve had Gerrard, Joe Cole, Lampard and David Beckham for years and years and they’ve not done anything, not gone anywhere. But we still persist with the lament: ‘Why can’t we win with all these individuals?’
“Look at John Terry after the Algeria match. He comes out and tells you what the problem is. But he doesn’t see himself as part of the problem,” he said.
Barnes is in no doubt that, if England are to once again become a force in world football, they need to work on a new system. “England gets by on the individual ability of a Rooney or a Gerrard or a Lampard, rather than collective method or strategy. Now if that individual either isn’t playing or he doesn’t play well, that means you can’t win.
“Spain has an identity. If you black out the faces and don’t know who’s playing, you can still say this Spain because of the way they play. You can see Brazil because of the way they play. We haven’t got a method. We need to create an identity.”