It seems FA chairman Greg Dyke has finally figured it all out. In order for the England national team to improve, the Premier League needs to turf out more of those nasty skilful foreign players – the players that have made the Premiership the world’s most popular domestic league. Those pesky mercenary invaders with their step overs and screamers, their intelligent passing and sublime touches – ruining it for everyone they are. What about poor Johnny from Gravesend who can run around fast and win headers? What about Danny from Plymouth who can slide tackle and block shots with his face? Is nobody thinking about Johnny and Danny? Well, Greg is.
Dyke feels that Premier League football is in danger of “having nothing to do with English people” and even speaking as an Irish Man Utd fan, I do have a little sympathy for his argument. I think if at all possible football teams and clubs should be representative of their areas, cities and nations in terms of player selection.
But that shouldn’t come as a set in stone requirement or conditional quota of home grown players. It should of course be something to aspire to – I mean which Premier League club wouldn’t want a team of top class home grown players? It makes so much sense from an economic as well as performance perspective. Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool….all of the league’s top clubs would see that as a hypothetical footballing nirvana surely?
The depressing reality for Dyke and England however, is that there are just not enough high calibre English players being produced. The introduction of regulations forcing teams to include more of these mediocre players in their squads is not going to suddenly improve England’s talent pool. It just does not work like that. Dyke is targeting the wrong areas.
Dyke’s argument is that English youngsters will do well if given the chance – as if right now there is some grand conspiracy or reluctance to pick those players instead of the glaring hard to swallow actuality…..that English players are not good enough to be picked.
If a young English player is matching or even out performing his foreign team mates in training on a regular basis, why wouldn’t the manager pick them? Ferguson brought his Fledglings into United’s first team because their performances in training demanded it. It was a no brainer for the Scot, the most calculated of gambles.
Joe Hart, John Terry, Wayne Rooney etc were not given their opportunities because they were English, it was because they were good enough to play.
If the next Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard or Paul Scholes were emerging at Liverpool, Chelsea or United right now, they would be thrust into first team action, no matter how many foreign players there were in the respective squads. Why? Because they would be good enough. Managers wouldn’t be looking to sign Chileans or Croatians for peanuts to fill their positions – I mean why would they? That would make no sense.
It sounds to me like Dyke is making excuses for the failings of the FA’s own systems at youth level.
Sky Sports’ published a graph today showing us how many home grown players are currently in each Premier League squad. Straight away we see that the teams with the most home grown players in their squads are generally the worst teams in the league. That immediately screams that English players are simply not as good as their foreign counterparts. It aint rocket surgery Guv.
Is increasing the number of home grown players in a squad somehow going to improve the technical and tactical level of English players? Sure, you could argue that more experience and game time should improve youngsters to a degree, but aren’t we ignoring the obvious fundamental coaching flaws? Changing a quota requirement on paper doesn’t fix the underlying problems. Isn’t Dyke putting the horse before the cart here?
A forced quota increase will in no way whatsoever lead to an increase in the quality of English players. Dyke is over simplifying a deep rooted problem.
Instead of the desired effect, his new regulations will decrease the quality of the Premier League and drive up the prices of the already over valued half decent English players.
The FA need to concentrate on improving a youth system and structure that is failing to produce the necessary calibre of player. Once they do that, the number of home grown players at top Premier League club will increase naturally and in a more beneficial way to all. Answers on a post card as to how they go about doing that.