After an unconvincing 1-0 friendly win against Norway, it appears English football has hit an all-time low. Only 40,181 people turned up to see Wayne Rooney score the only goal of the game, on his first game as captain. The lowest attendance ever in a full international in the new Wembley, which sums up where England are at the moment. There were few positives to take from the game, mainly the performances of Sterling and Sturridge, and how they linked up together incredibly well. But they created hardly any chances and more importantly didn’t take any, which has been one of England’s biggest problems over recent years.
However, a bigger problem lies a lot deeper in the English game, which is the reason why England have underachieved so much. The Premier League. The Premier League started in 1993, and since then, many have hailed it as the best league in the world, because of the amount of world class players in the league, and because of the huge amount of competition for the title. The number of foreign stars has increased throughout the years, mainly due to the large amounts of money that clubs tempt the players with. The recent transfer window has proved just how the amount of money spent in the Premier League is so bad for the English team and the English game in general.
Money Spent During The Last Transfer Window
- Premier League: £835m
- La Liga: £425m
- Serie A: £260m
- Bundesliga: £250m
- Ligue 1: £100m
The figure above shows how much more the Premier League spent on players than the other leagues in Europe. This stat shows how dependent Premier League teams are on money, which is bad for the development of young English players in the League. Also, with this amount of money spent, it would be expected that the English teams would dominate Europe. But, this is not the case, as teams from Spain and Germany, who are made up of predominantly homegrown players, normally dominate the English teams.
Not Enough English Players Play
Recently, it was revealed only 29% of players in the Premier League were English. This is the second lowest proportion of homegrown players in a European league, behind Cyprus. All of the other major European leagues, have high percentages of homegrown players, which is why they are so successful at major tournaments, throughout the age groups. Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain all have over 50% of homegrown players in their major leagues, and these teams often perform very well at major tournaments, and regularly compete at the highest levels in the first team tournaments, but also at U21 and U20 level. This proves the strength in depth of the national sides, because most of the U21 players are playing regular football in the major leagues.
English clubs could learn a lot from the teams in other major leagues, especially La Liga and the Bundesliga. With these clubs, developing young players is their priority, whereas the English clubs’ priority is money. This is because of the owners of the English clubs, who only have interest in their club and none in the national side. But then, why should they care? They have nothing to do with the national side. In the Bundesliga, most clubs are owned by the fans, so they obviously want a balance between the national team and their club team.
Premier League teams need to give more young English players opportunities in the first team, but they will only do this, when there is a rule enforced by the FA. As it is such a competitive league, clubs can’t afford to risk playing young players in the team, in fear of being relegated or losing out on the title etc.
FA must implement a cap on foreign players
The FA need to implement a cap of foreign players in the Premier League, in order for young English players to develop and gain regular first team experience. There are so many young players, who spend many seasons in the reserves, or out on loan not playing at the highest level. They are not getting enough opportunities in the team in order to develop. When players are given a chance, it is a great chance for them to develop and it normally pays off. A fantastic example of this is Raheem Sterling for Liverpool. During Sterling’s debut season, he showed a lot of potential, and had a brilliant season, however, he still had so much room for improvement, and regular game time improved him as a player. Now he is considered as one of the best players in the English squad.
Some people may be more in favour of having foreign players in the Premier League, because fans want to see the best players in the world, week-in week-out. Also, in England, it is normal for people to care more about their club sides than the national side, as lots of fans have given up on the national side, because of their poor performances, and also the fact that clubs play every week. So it would be hard to agree on a deal to see a cap on foreign players in the squads, as the Premier League and the FA have different priorities.
If the FA and the Premier League can come to an agreement to make this happen, then the England team will improve. The young English players will be getting lots more game time which is so crucial in the development of a players. However, the amount of power that the clubs have, I can’t see it happening any time soon, as many people do not realise the effects it has on the national side and will only blame the players or coaches. This is one of the major issues of English football, and it must be addressed, or there will be many more years of heartbreak for England fans.