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England chief Southgate: We cannot become Barcelona-obsessed

New England chief Gareth Southgate says plans to overhaul the nation's junior system isn't about copying the Barcelona model.

Former Middlesbrough manager Southgate is the FA's elite performance director.

He told The Sun: "Paul Scholes was the best player I ever played with and he wasn't a big lad. But I think he came through because Manchester United are one of the most patient clubs, whereas a lot aren't.

"We must be careful not to become Barcelona obsessed. But if I was a small kid in England, I would look at them and think, 'Do you know that small guys can make it'.

"When I travel up and down the country, I'm seeing as many Barcelona shirts as anything else. They are talking about bits of skill they've seen and they are open to different ideas. Now we've got dads and kids looking at it and saying 'Why aren't we playing that way?'"

Southgate added: "Remember, I didn't see us play in a World Cup until I was 12 because we didn't qualify in 1974 or 1978. We didn't qualify in 1994, either, or for the last Euros. It's not alien territory.

"There's an acceptance that we've got to look deeper at ourselves. We are realising it's not just the fault of one manager who is in charge at one given time or one ball that didn't cross the line or whatever.

"Generally speaking, we've lacked enough creative players. In my lifetime in England, I've only seen Gazza, Scholes and Rooney who were truly great and had the creativity to unlock a packed defence by dribbling or passing.

"The FA guidelines for years were about direct play and organisation but football has evolved. We're not in a disaster zone but we can't stand still while others go forward.

"I worked with Glenn Hoddle and Terry Venables who were excellent forward-thinking coaches. But are we encouraging those types of people as much as we could be?

"The more experienced people like that we can get involved, the better. I know they would be happy to help other coaches."

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