What did you make of the tributes to mark the 20th anniversary of Bobby Moore’s death?
It’s still very sad that he lost his life at 51. Lots of people talk about and debate when he finished playing because from a playing point of view he was legendary, whether it be England or West Ham. People say he didn’t go into coaching or he didn’t have the profile after that, and, to be fair to Bob, he was starting to do some broadcasting work with Capital with Jonathan Pearce at the time and I was working with the BBC.
He was starting to enjoy that side of work so probably within the 20 years that he has been away, his profile and personality would’ve escalated away from the football. And then, of course, after each tournament for England when we haven’t won anything, the achievement of ’66 grows even stronger. So I think it’s a shame because I’m sure he would’ve had a really important time, particularly with the FA. We’ve got our 150th anniversary and we’ve got a lot of the ’66 lads who are still playing a part in some of those celebrations and Bobby, as a captain, would’ve been a key person I’m sure.
Why do you think England have not had any success since 1966?
I’m obviously at the FA and we’re trying to rectify that. We’re trying to develop better quality technical young players but we’ve got to do it at a greater depth. Every weekend when the Premier League is taking place and there’s only 35 per cent English players in the starting elevens. Now, in Bobby’s generation it was probably 90 per cent – there were some British ones who couldn’t play for England. In Spain at the moment – a team that have won the championships recently – they’ve got 70-odd per cent every week in the starting lineups.
So whoever is the senior coach, he has twice as many players who are playing regular first team football to choose from, so that will always give you a better depth in the squad.
So we’ve got to try and raise that on the youth development side so that the players are in on merit. Germany are getting closer to Spain because they’ve got a lot of young German players; 18, 19, 20 years old playing regular Bundesliga first team football and that’s what we’ve got to do. Hopefully, with St George’s Park and all that, we can start to improve that
They [Germany] invested a lot of money 10 years ago. Joachim Loew, at a workshop soon after the Euros in 2002, said they were really looking and couldn’t see where their creative attacking players were so they – the Federation, the Bundesliga, and the government – invested something like €50m in developing a structure to develop more technical creative players. Now they think they’re getting close to being competitive with those younger teenagers breaking into first team football
To a certain extent, I said to Roy [Hodgson], it’s probably where we are now and it’s going to take us five to 10 years to try and get more English youngsters of maybe 19/20 playing more regular first-team football in the Premier League, but it has got to be on merit not just on quotas and all that because European law won’t let you do that.
Getting back to West Ham, do you think Sam Allardyce has done a good job at the club?
Sam was brought in to get us promotion. He did well and after a tense play-off we secured promotion. Our home form was a struggle last year but the away form was great. This year, if you’d have said we’re going to be where we are now, you’d have probably taken it. The target was always to stay up this year and I’m sure, having seen the games, Sam will know where he needs to strengthen the squad hopefully once that points tally is achieved.
I think the home form has been pretty good this year, we’ve had some good matches and a couple of near misses and just the away form’s been disappointing. They’re just going through a little spell at the moment. I thought the Swansea game might turn it round but the problem is you’ve got cup games as well so it’s quite a lull between matches and it doesn’t help with the momentum, you know? But I think you can’t compare to past West Ham characters or teams and all that.
We’re in the current world where you’ve got big clubs like Chelsea, and Man U, Man City, so clubs like West Ham have just got to make sure they keep out of that relegation struggle.
Is Allardyce the person to take West Ham forward to get near those clubs you just mentioned?
Yeah, I’m supportive of Sam. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people suggest ‘Is he?’, but I think you stay with the tried and trusted unless you’ve got some wonderful alternative finance. Sam’s as experienced as anyone. He knows who’s out there and he, hopefully, will have learnt a lot from this season and he’ll know where the side needs strengthening.
Do you think Kevin Nolan’s absence has been a good thing?
I think it’s unfair to suggest that. Kevin has got some important goals this year. He’s obviously quite an important person to Sam [Allardyce]; from the captaincy, the dressing room, and everything else. But I think you can’t take it out on the individuals. I think Nolan’s been good and he’s got some good goals. He’s obviously dangerous at set pieces.