End-of-days scenario may be what English football needs
Mark Catlin believes the English game could be heading towards a shake-up.
It’s a seismic earthquake which is needed, however, to impact the terrain of the game at international level.
And we’re not talking about giving the ranks of European youngsters at Premier League clubs a runout in the EFL Trophy here.
The only surprise about the shambles in Nice on Monday night, was anyone was remotely surprised about it at all.
Perplexed, bewildered, embarrassed and increasingly furious, yes, but not really surprised.
Defeat to Iceland is seen as the biggest stain on the national game since losing to USA at the World Cup in 1950.
But what about the indelible marks left two years ago in Brazil?
Expectations were so low at the last World Cup that Roy Hodgson was somehow allowed to ride out the abject performance of his side in South America.
The apathy which reigned meant there was barely an audible outcry from England finishing bottom of their group.
The same can’t be said in France, as the FA’s decision to stick with Hodgson came home to roost.
It was the manner in which it all fell apart so dramatically which spoke of the continuing deep-rooted issues which lie within English football.
We had seen Germany pull apart Slovakia’s defensive wall with ease and Belgium comfortably unpick Hungary’s rearguard effort.
Then there was France using their three days’ extra rest to take advantage of Ireland’s tiring minds and limbs.
It was a similar scenario for England. Seven days on from a final group game where Hodgson had gambled and lost with six changes against Slovakia, they faced an Iceland side with two days’ less preparation time.
Taking on a team who have built their Euro success on perspiration over inspiration, the challenge was to tire the opponent and take advantage of the gaps when they appeared.
A fourth-minute opener even meant they were given the perfect platform with Iceland forced to open up. That they did, though, with their leveller 34 seconds after the restart.
From there, we witnessed the Three Lions’ descent into madness.
Heads spun, eyes glazed and frenzied glares were dished out as panic set in.
And all of this from players, we are told, operating in the best league in the world every week.
That didn’t stop the Premier League megastars reverting to that familiar plan B as the game headed inexorably to its inevitable conclusion.
Yes, lump it forward and hope for the best is still alive and well. So the rest of Europe guffawed and gave knowing looks as we found ourselves out of the EU(ros) for the second time in four days.
That is where the shift in landscape may just provide the changes the game here needs.
Divorcing the EU is set to prompt moves in employment law which are likely to have a big impact on English football.
And Pompey chief executive Catlin had some very interesting views on the subject in the Sports Mail last weekend.
Under the current system there is freedom of movement to allow EU players to gain deals without a complex work permit process.
That, many feel, could now change to reflect the scenario where non-EU players have to play a percentage of their country’s games indexed to their Fifa ranking.
A report earlier this year indicated 332 players in the top two English leagues and Scottish top flight would not be eligible for permits.
On top of that, just 23 of the 180 non-British EU players in the Championship would qualify.
These figures in the wake of Brexit are being viewed as apocalyptic by many.
But maybe it’s this end-of-days scenario which will finally help us change the culture of English football for the best.