McClaren seeks new 'English' style of football

December 16, 2006

Steve McClaren does not feel disadvantaged by the lack of home players on show in the Premiership - but he does feel the traditional English `up and at them' style has been diluted.

Of the 250-plus stars who take the field in the top flight every weekend, only around a third are qualified to play for England.

From that number, McClaren and his coaching team have come up with 50 names who will provide the basis of the challenge to reach Euro 2008.

The lack of home-based players has been interpreted as a sign the much-hyped club academy systems are not working, with many claiming the invasion of foreign talent is having a detrimental effect on the national side.

However, McClaren does not see the situation in those terms and believes, at the very highest level, it is quality rather than quantity which really counts.

'I don't feel disadvantaged,' he said.

'It doesn't actually matter how many players you have, realistically you are only going to pick from the top percentage, most of whom are with the top teams.

'They are the ones who are getting experience of playing under top foreign coaches and with the top foreign players. The only thing we may lose is playing the English way.'

Although many English traits, particularly the insatiable desire to attack, have been retained in some form, allowing the Premiership to maintain its self-appointed stance as the most exciting league in the world, most have been modified to some extent.

And McClaren hardly feels it is fair to ask players used to operating in one way for their clubs to suddenly switch back to the old English style when the international season starts.

'Ten years ago, you knew what the English way was,' he said.

'Nowadays, there are so many different variants to the way teams play.

'People say `we should get back to playing the English way' but what is it when you only have 10 English players at the top four clubs.

'We have to create a new English way and maybe it has to be a bit different because you cannot go from what you do on a Saturday do something totally different in an international.'

McClaren is currently midway through a three-month international break which splits last month's draw with Holland from the February 7 encounter with Spain at Old Trafford.

It is a frustrating spell, particularly as he would have liked the opportunity to build on the positive aspects from England's performance in Amsterdam.

However, as he heads around the country checking on the form of his key men, McClaren could not be more delighted with what he sees.

'I am enjoying the games because I can see how well lads like Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney, John Terry and Frank Lampard are doing,' he said.

'Michael Carrick has really improved and Rio Ferdinand has been absolutely majestic.

'It is also encouraging to see Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone getting a regular game now.

'It means the core of our team are playing in Europe, against the best opposition every week with all the expectation that brings, which can only help us in the long term.'