FA technical director: England can win 2022 World Cup
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FA technical director: England can win 2022 World Cup

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Dan Ashworth, the technical director of the Football Association (FA), believes England can win the 2022 World Cup, and delivered his blueprint on how the team can achieve its first success since 1966.

Delivering his vision to the body’s annual Coaching Conference at St George’s Park in Burton, Ashworth highlighted player education, the implementation of specialist coaches and the national training centre, which opened in 2012, as “catalysts” for tournament success.

The former West Bromwich Albion sporting director told delegates that St George’s Park was key in developing the style of play for the national team, from the under-15 group to the senior squad, and “maximising the time” each coach has with the players.

“Gregg Dyke launched a vision and target of winning the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and 2023 for the female team, and then sustainable tournament success thereafter,” he said.

“Some people will be sitting in this room and saying they’re not sure that it’s possible for England to win the World Cup or European Championship, and I’m telling you it’s absolutely possible.”

Ashworth said that getting “everybody connected with the game and working towards the same goal” was crucial, as was trying different methods.

He said that over the past 18 months the FA had been exploring the possibility of implementing specialist, position-specific coaches, in the mould of cricket, hockey and rugby union, to help players prepare for different opponents.

Specialist coaches will be implemented within the national teams over the next 6-8 months, with the FA taking advice from other sports on how to achieve it successfully.

Technical coaches, who will spend time on creating plans for set-plays and penalties, as well as support staff, which will be concerned with marginal gains such as nutrition, player identification and psychology, will be present with all England head coaches, from senior men’s manager Roy Hodgson, under-21 coach Gareth Southgate and women’s senior manager Mark Sampson.

Ashworth also identified three key areas that the FA will focus on with regards to player development: dealing with the pressure of tournament football, the physical robustness of players and their tactical attributes.

Reflecting on England’s near 50-year wait for tournament success, Ashworth said he and his team “had to be brave”.

“In four years’ time or six years’ time or eight years’ time, if the board comes to me and they say ‘what have you done differently?’ and I say ‘nothing’ we deserve the sack,” he said.

“If we say we’ve utilised St George’s Park, reinvigorating the educational programmes, thought differently about how to maximise time with players during international duty and have enough staff to really engage with the clubs, all of a sudden we are thinking differently and we think that will give us a better chance of success.”

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