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Time To Cast A Wider Net
Footytubeblog (Blog) 3 years ago
Manchester United have been crowned Premier League champions showing an indisputable dominance throughout the season. In a squad where the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley or Phil Jones have played an active role in the achievement, England fans wonder why that success fails to have a reflection in the national team. Are other teams not relying on English players? Or simply there are not enough English players to choose in elite football?

Well, a bit of both, we could say. The first obstacle feeds the second one, and vice versa. Roy Hodgson recently complained about the lack of English players on the Premier League grounds he attends, claiming his choice in order to form the national team is fairly narrow compared to other countries due to the vast proportion of foreign players crowding the Premiership squads.

And he is right if we look at the numbers, as barely a 35% of the Premier League players are eligible to play for England, far from the La Liga 59%, Ligue 1 58% or Bundesliga and Serie A 45%, according to The Daily Mail.

The high competitiveness of the probably best league in the world, as well as the strong buying power of some of the clubs, are very valid points when trying to find a reason to explain the sad reality. However, these are not the only ones, as lower profile clubs such as Wigan, West Brom or Stoke City play week after week with a large number of foreign players in their line ups, not being precisely the kind of clubs that blow up the European market with staggering offers to bring the finest talents to their teams.

It looks like in English football nowadays there seem to be an inexplicable attraction for the foreign product. We tend – and this applies not only to the beautiful game, but also to other consumption habits in our daily lives – to establish an intellectual – but yet illogical – correlation between ‘foreign’ and ‘better’.

The immediate consequence of this trend in football is an excessive obsession with scouting that leads the clubs to track the whole world in search of the latest 17 year-old diamond in the rough, ignoring the fact that he could be in England, lacking development and opportunities in equal parts. In other words, clubs prefer to engage the fans by investing excessive amounts of money in bringing Smithinho or Van Johnson, rather than giving an opportunity to Smith or Johnson, the two lads from the reserves team.
As a result, we find a very strong league and a national team that struggles in the international panorama. Is anyone doing anything to improve this situation? Apparently so, as the Premier League is investing around £340 million over the next five years across all the levels of the game.

Together with this move, the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) – approved by the Premier League, representatives of the Football League, and the FA – has been designed as a long-term strategy that joins investment, coaching and development with the aim of increasing the number of home grown players at elite level.

The EPPP should produce more and better young English players, which will be an achievement itself, but the clubs have to do the rest and give opportunities to those talents as Manchester United or Tottenham do, to name a couple.

Spain lived a similar situation at the beginning of the last decade, when lots of clubs – not only Madrid and Barcelona – were spending quantities way over their possibilities in expensive foreign players. The financial situation made the bubble burst and years after Spain are collecting the benefits of an unrepeatable generation. Some of those players, however, could have not succeeded without the good work of clubs like Barcelona or Sevilla, with an exemplary youth development structure that finds continuity in the first team.

English clubs, therefore, have to finish up all the investment by relying in English young players, otherwise all the good practises will go down the sink. Of course, top-class players will always be top-class players, and if a club have the opportunity and the power to sign the likes of Van Persie, Falcao, Mata or Goetze, there is no need to hesitate or feel guilty.
But when it comes to young players, scouts should scout at home. There is no need to sign the new Sneijder when you have the new Lampard waiting for a chance.

Written By Kike Muniz

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