World football seems to be lost in the shadows, leagues are becoming predictable. Spectators crave the headlines of an underdog coming out on top even more so than in the past.
Ligue 1 is all but over, with PSG massing an almost laughable 23 point lead at the top of the table. Barcelona will almost certainly be crowned La Liga champions for the 24th time in their illustrious history. Bayern Munich as per usual lead the German Bundesliga ahead of Dortmund by 5 points due to Pep’s Bayern easing into autopilot mode.
With this in mind, The Premier League is without question the most exciting league in World Football. Where else would you find entertainment like this current season has produced. Leicester City survived relegation by a whisker last season, the very next season they find themselves 9 games away from the unthinkable; Premier League Champions.
Of course with great entertainment comes great rewards, and with all clubs who have made it to the dizzy heights of the Premier League in the past 8 seasons. Have received sky high payments regardless of position in the league. (Rock bottom of the league, Villa predicted to receive almost £100m for their dismal season this year).
Fig 1.) Income Premier League Clubs received in 2014/15 season.
But has the money created by television revenue become a ‘double edged sword’ for Premier League clubs participating in Europe’s Elite competition? Statistics would suggest so.
With the abundance of wealth all BPL clubs generate, especially the notable high performing clubs who regularly qualify for the CL. It would appear that clubs have forgotten their roots they once started from.
The BPL has always been known as an multi international league, with an array of talent from all over the globe. But this international talent in the past has always been alongside a core of British players who helped to establish the backbone and essence of a club.
In recent years, we’ve had players such as John Terry, Ashley Cole & Frank Lampard provide the spine of a mostly foreign team at Chelsea. Or Steven Gerrard & Jamie Carragher maintaining the passion it takes to play for Liverpool.
It would appear in today’s world with the financial firepower clubs possess, homegrown talent unfortunately won’t get a chance to shine unless individuals are dubbed as a ‘wonderkid’.
Would players like the Neville brothers have been given a chance to shine in today’s English top tier? Or would United have sent them out on loan or even sold them? As they were’t ‘skilful enough’ or ‘couldn’t accelerate quick enough’. Two stalwarts of the BPL who went on to have great success during their careers at both club and international level. With Gary considered to being one of the greatest right backs the BPL has seen.
Alarm bells should be ringing – in this season’s UEFA Champions League, only 13 English players were registered to compete, that number is staggeringly low. Lower than Israel & Belarus in fact. Spain have 59 representatives whilst Germany have 38. ‘We are miles behind the likes of Spain & Germany’ – words of Greg Dyke.
How on earth do we expect to be competitive as a nation at World Cups or Euro’s, if only our very best players are getting big game experience and playing against Europe’s elite. To put that more into context – Manchester United had 9 Englishmen in the match squad to face Bayern in the 1999 Final.
This season’s statistics in the Champions League read as follows;
|Clubs||No of Internationals||Home Grown Players|
Fig 2.) Above shows the amount of different internationals that have played for a club this season and also the number of players of that club’s nationality who have represented them.
As the graph suggests, english clubs are severely lacking in english players.
Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse had it spot on with this sketch back in 2008 which sums up what a changing room in a top Premier League team must really be like in todays game at times!
2007/08 season saw English football conquer Europe’s Elite. Two english teams in the final, (Chelsea Vs Manchester United) Liverpool made it to the Semi final and Arsenal progressed to the Quarter Finals
British Players in Starting or Squad for 2007/08:
- Chelsea – 4 starting players
- Manchester United – 8 in squad
- Liverpool – 5 in squad
- Arsenal – 1 in squad
8 players in Man United’s squad a stark difference to the squads in present english teams.
I can reel off statistics about possession, only 1 english club has made it into the top 5 possession rankings on one occasion in the last 5 years. Or that in the group stages of this season’s competition, Chelsea and Man United constructed 31.5 & 29 inaccurate long balls per 90 minutes respectively. In comparison to PSG’s 16.5 & Bayern’s 15.5.
But to an extent these stats become meaningless, but what should be taken away from them is that Premier League players aren’t getting enough time playing with one another. Before they become either sold or another player replaces them. Professionals have to practice together to then be able to produce magic on the pitch. E.g. Barcelona Tika Taka.
English players need to seize the opportunity and become first team regulars and help dictate how the team plays it’s football. With an array of international talent on show, it can become confusing for players to fully understand what the club’s philosophy is.
Players of past era’s such as Scholes or Ferdinand would demand for supporting players to raise the game and play ‘The Manchester United way’. Will we ever see Manchester United beat a club of Roma’s calibre 7-1 again?
In conclusion, English football needs to find it’s identify once again. If we are ever going to become a threat at world football level again. We have great talent being produced by academies across the country but these players need to be given the chance to shine. Not just in friendlies or when a team is up 4-0, they need the experience of playing in a pressurised environment constantly.
Not for one second, am I against foreign players playing in the Premier League. They have without doubt made the league more exciting and a pleasure to watch, but a better balance needs to be struck between the two.
Thanks for reading,