Chris Johnson

Chris has extensive, varied experience within grassroots and professional football.

He has coached his own junior team for six seasons, holds the UEFA B Coaching licence and offers 1-to-1 coaching as part of a football development programme.

He also works as a scout for an EFL League 2 club and has completed FA Level 2 in Talent Identification.

Previously he's been the assistant commercial manager for a club in the EFL Championship.

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The smooth path of the England men’s team towards qualification to the European Championships has again raised hopes that Gareth Southgate’s exciting young team can go all the way and lift a trophy.

These hopes are supported by the wealth of young talent vying for positions in England’s team with, for the first time in decades, genuine world stars emerging for England.

Jude Bellingham’s outstanding success on the biggest stage of all in club football, Real Madrid, is testament to the level many England players can now aspire to and having won the Under 21 Championships earlier in the year, hopes are high that the senior team can also succeed.

In recent years, the English National Football Team has undergone a spectacular transformation, showcasing a wealth of young talent that has captured the hearts and imagination of fans.

The roots of this footballing renaissance can be traced back to a pivotal moment in 2012 when the English Football Association initiated a ground breaking overhaul of coaching methodologies.

This shift marked a departure from the obsession with immediate victories to a steadfast commitment to the long term development of technical skills among young players.

Before 2012, English football was often criticised for its myopic focus on immediate success, neglecting the long term development of players.

The traditional approach often prioritised physicality and athleticism over technical proficiency, resulting in a dearth of technically gifted players at the highest level.

The national team struggled for years to make a mark on the international stage, prompting a critical re-evaluation of the country's footballing approach.

Recognising the need for change, the English Football Association initiated a comprehensive overhaul of coaching structures and philosophies in 2012.

The primary objective was to shift the emphasis from short term gains to the cultivation of technical skills, game intelligence, and a deeper understanding of football concepts at the grassroots level.

Central to this shift was the introduction of the 'England DNA Philosophy' at St.George’s Park, spearheaded by Gareth Southgate, Dan Ashworth, and Matt Crocker.

This philosophy aimed to establish a unified playing style across all age groups with five key elements:

Who We Are: Instilling pride in players and teaching them about England's football heritage.

How We Play: Emphasising possession domination and aggressive pressing.

The Future England Player: Focusing on strategic player development, technical and tactical abilities, and key characteristics.

How We Coach: Providing consistent guidelines for coaches in identifying and teaching skills.

How We Support: Offering support and advice, from performance improvements to the latest in analysis and sports medicine.

The FA also introduced a robust youth development framework, emphasising a player centric approach that prioritised individual skill development over team success in the early stages.

Age appropriate coaching methods were implemented to ensure that young players received the right guidance at each stage of their development.

The coaching pathway underwent a significant revamp, with an increased emphasis on acquiring higher coaching qualifications.

Coaches were also encouraged to focus on instilling a love for the game, creativity, and technical proficiency rather than just winning matches.

Substantial investments were made in state of the art training facilities across the country, providing hubs for young talent with an environment conducive to their holistic development.

Sports science became an integral part of player development, with a focus on injury prevention, recovery strategies, and the overall wellbeing of young athletes.

Fast forward to the present day, and the impact of the 2012 overhaul is palpable.

The English National Football Team boasts a crop of young, technically gifted players who are making waves both domestically and internationally.

The success of England at the youth level, including triumphs in various age group tournaments, is a testament to the efficacy of the FA's strategic vision.

While a major tournament win remains elusive, the harmony within recent England squads and the pride displayed by younger players indicate progress.

Players like Bukayo Saka, James Maddison, Rico Lewis and Phil Foden showcase outstanding technical and dribbling skills, contributing to a gradual evolution in the team's playing style.

With more young players coming through all the time there is still the chance that newcomers to the squad can take England to an even higher level.

Contenders are vying for Southgate's attention on a weekly basis in the Premier League, although the majority of spots for the Germany trip seem to be spoken for.

Chelsea's Palmer earned substitute roles against Malta and North Macedonia in qualifying, a well deserved recognition for his impressive performances since his £40m move from Manchester City.

Another player on Southgate's radar is Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon, who has been in exceptional form this season.

His talent is familiar to England's coaches, having been named player of the tournament in the 2023 European Under-21 Championship, contributing to England's victory in Georgia.

Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze, with senior England caps to his name, add intriguing dimensions to the evolving squad considerations.

Although challenges persist, such as struggles to dominate possession against some of the top European sides, the steady and noticeable improvements suggest that England's coaching is heading in the right direction.

Comparisons to France's historic World Cup win in 1998, ten years after implementing similar grassroots coaching changes, show England still have some way to travel.

However, successful England youth sides and senior team achievements, reaching the World Cup semi final in 2018 and the European Championship final in 2020, indicate progress towards the coveted major tournament success.

But hopes are high that 2024 can be the year with the stars seeming to align for the England as they set their sights on the European Championships.

With a squad teeming with talent and a fervent sense of unity, the Three Lions are poised to make a resounding statement on the grand stage of European football.

The squad boasts a dynamic blend of seasoned tournament campaigners and prodigious young talents, with each player capable of contributing at the highest level.

With Gareth Southgate now also a veteran tournament manager and a nation ready to rally behind the Three Lions, the stage is set for a team to go all the way and restore some national pride.

If they are successful the resurgence of English football on the global stage can be traced back to the visionary overhaul of coaching in 2012.

By prioritising the long term development of technical skills and embracing a more nuanced approach to coaching, the English Football Association has laid the foundation for sustained success.

As young talents continue to emerge and shine, the impact of this transformation will be felt for years to come, securing a bright future for English football on both the national and international fronts.

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