Well no doubt you've heard all about it if you're a Brit. Or French or German for that matter. England slumped to a pathetic defeat last night against a good Croatia side, in which only a couple of players deserved to wear the shirt. One of them was Beckham, the other was probably Crouch. I'm not going to be a pundit and talk about the match itself, but instead it's going to be about the reason why the English in general (there's always the exceptions mind) are technically inferior to their continental opponents. Last night was a typical example of the one of the most overhyped players ever, Gerrard showing his lack of real world class quality by resorting to lumping the ball forward at any opportunity. It was symbolic of the problems with the English game. Last night's difference was that they couldn't even do the "hoof the ball up" very well. Aside from Crouch's excellent control and finish, and Beckham's superb trademark cross there was nothing to suggest England had more quality than a league 1 side. Watching countries like Croatia, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina there seems to be something in common in varying levels. Nearly all of the players in those national teams are technically adequate if not good. These players can trap a ball, control, dribble with elegance and balance, pass with accuracy, beat their marker and maintain composure and possession in tight spaces. Most of the players in the England squad cannot do these things well, bar Rooney, Owen, Beckham and a few others to a lesser extent. Last night's game exposed the fact that below the first team, the quality is lacking seriously. I think the problem exists at a level much lower than the senior side, sometimes even lower than the academies. For years, the pundits have always talked about playing the English style, high tempo and intense. Note, the word technical is never mentioned. When kids play football for their schools or local teams, do they ever get encouraged to practice their skill? I don't think so, too much emphasis is put on fitness and brute strength. The players that do show promise by daring to be different get scolded for wasting time or possession. So eventually they get it into their heads that skill and technique are secondary to discipline and athleticism. Young players must be taught to practice with the ball whenever they can. Football is not just a game for those with physical ability though, a lot of football is played with the mind. You cannot be a great player if you don't have the creativity and intelligence to read a game, and influence it in your teams favour. Classic examples of this are players like Pirlo, Kaka, Scholes etc. Skills that that need experience which grows with time, and also intelligence. So its the second England disappointed in as many years, and we'll have to wait for the World Cup 2010 for the next time England compete. Let's hope by then, some of the fundamental issues are being solved.