Watching all these Euro 2012 games has got me thinking… Would I prefer to have the Premier League in its current form whereby players are bought in from all over the globe to play? Or would I prefer a stronger focus on home based players creating a better national side?
Well its a no brainer for me, I’d much prefer a stronger league with NUFC able to compete on the European stage, but does this mean that our national side will never succeed?
It was BillQuayDad that said to me during the England v France game how strong the French squad looked compared to ours. Now he doesn’t know much about European football but can judge players on ability like most of us can. After he made the comment I really took notice of the technical ability on show, and the number of players on the bench who I myself have watched many times in European and French football. Granted it wasn’t Barca or Real but on the whole the squad looks a lot stronger than ours. So much so that when Parker was clearly shattered and had to be brought off I didn’t know who we had on the bench to replace him.
Personally I think this is down to the amount of players plying their trade in foreign countries. Of the current French squad 11 players play outside France, and 7 of which play in England. The Dutch squad have similar figures with 15 players based abroad, and 6 in England. For me this shows two different issues which amount to the same problem with football in our country. Firstly the players playing abroad get more experience of different styles of play so meaning that when they are selected to play in an international tournament for their country they are better prepared to play against these nations (and as an aside would get used to international refereeing). Secondly the more players from different nationalities playing in England, the less chance English players have the chance to play in the best league in the world which can only be bad news for our national footballing future.
Now who can guess how many of England’s squad play abroad? Of course, its none at all. Joe Cole is our only recent European export and he hasn’t featured in the national squad since his loan move to Lille. Other than that Owen Hargreaves played on the continent, but he grew up in Germany so that really doesn’t count. I think our young players are missing out because they aren’t given a chance to play in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. When I say aren’t given the chance what I actually mean is in most cases they aren’t good enough, which is certainly the case in Spain and Italy but in Germany, Holland and France the issue is money. The wages can’t be that high in these countries so players will be unwilling to relocate.
Now after doing some statistical work (I’m a geek, get over it) I have worked out that 7 of our top 8 clubs had less than 50% GB & Irish in the playing staff last season. Man Utd being the only exception to the rule but even then they had 17 from 31 eligible for home nation plus Republic of Ireland, and of those Giggs and Scholes are retired from Wales and England respectively. No prizes for guessing that Chelsea, Man City & Arsenal are the main offenders, not only due to first time recruitment but also if you take a closer look at their youth ranks they are swelled with youngsters from all over the globe…which is only set to continue with the new youth academy recruitment rules but that’s for another day.
And finally with the news of the increased price of Premier League TV rights (3billion squid) the future of our flagship league looks only like getting stronger financially so leading to more and more foreign stars choosing to play in England and equal numbers of our young stars rejecting going abroad in case they get the chance to earn massive wages. It’s a sad indictment of the society we live in, but lets face it who would turn down stupid money (but still receive way better money than most other professions) to go abroad and have to learn languages and cultures (work hard) to fit in?!
Oh hang on, hard work you say?! Oh no thanks.