Spurs and Swansea have similar qualities, says Duncan White
Tracing the intricate passing patterns at White Hart Lane this afternoon, you might glimpse the shape of England's future.
In the Tottenham technical area is Harry Redknapp, the man to coax confidence and adventure out of a jaded national team. In the Swansea dugout is Brendan Rodgers, the man who wants to teach the British to play.
This summer is the most important in the history of the England team -- not because there will be a new manager and a major tournament, but because St George's Park will open in Burton.
It should herald a change in the way English football is coached and played: a coherent approach that works across all age groups. And Redknapp is convinced Rodgers is the man to help provoke this cultural shift.
"I think he'd be fantastic," Redknapp said of getting Rodgers involved at Burton. "To start the kids playing like that from a young age, all the way through -- without a doubt, that's what's needed. You can't have the England team playing one way and the under 18s playing another way. No one plays like he plays, so I think it would be fantastic."
The FA is seeking to appoint a technical director to work at Burton, and while Rodgers would be a far-sighted appointment, he has ambitions as a club manager.
He is that rare thing in management: an idealist, an ideologue. No one has done more to dispel the self-defeating myths about English football. He has shown there is nothing intrinsically wrong with British players, that it is simply a case of coaching and encouraging them in the right way.
"I agree 100 per cent with Brendan on that, he's absolutely right, I couldn't agree more," Redknapp said. "He's proved you can do it. He has not exactly taken over world-class players at Swansea and he has got them playing the way they play.
"If you can do it at a club like Swansea you can do it elsewhere too. You have to give them confidence to do it, to get out on the training pitch and pass the ball. And if we can do it from an early age with kids it would be fantastic, that's what Barcelona would do."
The Rodgers approach is ambitiously modelled on Pep Guardiola's team. With the ball there is an emphasis on possession, building play from the goalkeeper up, having the patience to tease out the opening. Without the ball it is about pressing as a pack, every player working hard to win the ball back.
"They'll play that way against us," Redknapp said. "You end up worrying about how you stop them playing -- it's unbelievable really. In the past when a team has come up from the Championship you expect to run all over them. With Swansea, if you don't get it right you are in trouble."
The player who has come to embody the Swansea way is Leon Britton, the 5ft 5in central midfielder whose pass completion ratio this season has been the best in Europe, surpassing that of Xavi.
"I signed Leon at West Ham, we took him from Arsenal as a kid," Redknapp said. "He was a smashing little player in the youth team but after I left they let him go.
"He went to Swansea and was with them when they looked like they might go out of the league. He's a fantastic footballer but he is lucky he has found a manager that can see it. I think there are lots of players around like him. Players who, in the right system for the right team, can really play."
Spurs are different to Swansea in some ways. Redknapp's team are the best in the league at hitting long switch passes, using the pace they have up front and out wide -- especially Gareth Bale.
Swansea are considered, sometimes even conservative; Spurs are fairly gung-ho. But ultimately these are two teams who are jealous of the ball. It is no coincidence they are also the two cleanest teams in the league.
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