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The challenge facing England's youngsters

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Dan Roan | 14:28 UK time, Wednesday, 21 July 2010

One of the major theories put forward by those trying to explain England's latest failure at a major championships is the lack of what the sport refers to as "access opportunities" for the country's best young players.

There is plenty of evidence to support such a view because it is clear the country is producing some good footballing talent. Inspired by Ipswich Town's teenage prodigy Connor Wickham, England won the European Under-17 Championship this summer.

Last week, I visited Normandy to cover the build-up to the Under-19 Euros, where England have started well. If they beat the Netherlands in Bayeux on Wednesday, they will reach the semi-finals.

The problem, as ever, is what happens to these talented young players once they return to their clubs. Take striker Frank Nouble, for example.

On Sunday, he scored twice in a 3-2 win against Austria in Flers but then discovered his club, West Ham, had signed two foreigners - Mexico winger Pablo Barrera and French striker Frederic Piquionne. Nouble could have been forgiven for wondering where his first-team opportunities will come from in the Premier League this season.

Frank NoubleFrank Nouble (left) scored for England under-19s against Austria

I met up with Wesley Sneijder's younger brother Rodney last week in Caen. 'Sneijder Minor', as he has been dubbed, is the latest product from the illustrious Ajax academy and a key member of the Dutch Under-19 side.

He told me how much harder he felt it would be for him to make his mark if he were English. After all, clubs in England are rich enough to be able to afford the best talent and that 60% of the players in the Premier League are foreign.

The case of Laurence Wilson should serve as a warning to the sport. Five years ago, the Everton academy graduate had the world at his feet. A member of the England Under-19 side that reached the European Championship final, the midfielder never once got the opportunity to appear for his club's first team, having been farmed out on loan.

Today, Wilson languishes in League Two at Morecambe. A good, solid pro, Wilson is philosophical about his career, pointing calmly to the riches of Premier League clubs who prefer to buy fully matured players rather than patiently investing in developing domestic talent.

Aware of these arguments, the Premier League has introduced new rules designed to limit the number of foreigners in squads. These kick in this coming season and state that squads must now contain a maximum of 25 players over the age of 21, of whom eight must be 'home-grown'.

To avoid contravening European Union freedom of labour laws, this does not necessarily mean home-grown players have to be English. They just have to be trained in England or Wales for 36 months before the end of the season in which they became 21. That means, for example, Cesc Fabregas qualifies as 'home-grown'.

In Germany, the rules are stricter. Twelve players in any Bundesliga squad must be 'home-grown' and be able to qualify to play for the national team. Yet some Premier League clubs are still struggling to meet the new rules, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has already made it clear he is against them, revealing he will be forced to sell some players as a result.

The new rules certainly contributed to Liverpool's recruitment of England international Joe Cole this week. Roy Hodgson has conceded that his new club's cosmopolitan squad could fall foul of the regulations if he doesn't bolster his squad with domestic talent.

Last year, it was revealed that, at 90%, Liverpool had the highest ratio of foreign players within their squad of any club in Europe. Hence the signings of English teenage stars Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton and Raheem Sterling from QPR earlier this year. The club's capture of young Rangers defender Danny Wilson is yet more evidence of the attempt to sign British talent to meet Uefa's new regulations on 'home-grown' players.

The Premier League points to Manchester City's purchase of Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough in February and Manchester United's acquisition of former Fulham defender Chris Smalling as signs that the new rules are already having an effect. And yet, as of Tuesday this week, only 21% of players secured by top-flight clubs this summer are English, only nine of 42 acquisitions.

On Tuesday, I took part in a debate on BBC Radio 5 live on the wide-ranging issue of youth development. Contributing to the discussion were former players Steve McManaman and Darren Caskey, Football Football Club Ltd chief Nigel Hargreaves and Ged Roddy, the Premier League's impressive Director of Academies.

"We want to get more home-grown players into our first teams," said Roddy. "The more we do, the more chance of an outstanding England team in the future. It's more than a half-step. Twelve months ago, there were no regulations like this. I've heard the owners are only interested in the product but they voted this in. They're not stupid. They recognise if we can develop our own players then we have a much stronger product."

The Football Association's latest review of elite player and coach development feels like déjà vu. I remember being at an electric Soho Square news conference in late 2007, when, an hour after sacking Steve McClaren as England coach following the country's failure to qualify for Euro 2008, Geoff Thompson, then chairman of the FA, promised a "root and branch review" of England's lack of success.

Sir Trevor BrookingThe FA's Sir Trevor Brooking has suggested ideas for best practise at club academies

But no such review ever materialised, just as nothing ever happened after Lord Burns recommended in 2005 that the FA undergo modernisation.

Earlier in 2007, Richard Lewis, the chairman of Sport England and executive chairman of the Rugby Football League, was asked to conduct another review of youth development.

One of his 64 recommendations was the formation of a central body incorporating coaching experts. The Youth Management Group was eventually set up, chaired by Howard Wilkinson, but the usual tensions between the FA, Premier League and Football League led to it being disbanded after a few meetings. Since then, there has been no body providing leadership of this most fundamental of the sport's territories.

As chairman of Sport England and a top sports politician, Lewis is wary of criticising football's authorities for disregarding his proposals. But, when I met up with him at the Emirates Stadium a few days ago, his disappointment was palpable. "I thought the Youth Management Group had potential to continue to get people around the table and get a consensus moving forward," he said. "I thought it was an opportunity. One needs to learn lessons. Perhaps this is the time to look again."

Time will tell if Roddy and Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, can secure the consensus that Lewis failed to bring about. Brooking's coaching training manual 'The Future Game' was a long-awaited document produced just before the World Cup, a subtle attempt, without any means to implement it, of suggesting ideas for best practise to club academies.

Brooking seems optimistic and hopeful that more money can be found to invest into youth coaching. The FA has money worries - while bring able to afford to spend £6m a year on Fabio Capello and his backroom staff - but there are some signs of progress. The National Football Centre should be operational by 2012, while the FA's Youth Award scheme, designed to produce more age-specific coaching, has merit.

But as a country, England still puts way too little into the development of players. It has been estimated that the FA, with a turnover of some £200m, invests only 1% of its money into the development of young players and relies too heavily on sponsors like Tesco to deliver projects like skills-based coaching.

And yet, amid the debate over club versus country, home-grown player rules and the quality of coaching, one cannot help but feel that something much more fundamental is crucial. Namely that not enough children are playing the sport, not enough are playing the game in the right way and not enough are being coached in a fashion that produces technically adept footballers.

Too many English youngsters play competitive, league-based matches on full-size pitches - with overzealous parents often on the touchline - at too early an age. Strength and speed wins out over fun and skill, with many smaller players neglected.

In England, more than a million youngsters have no access to the sport, with children living in inner cities and urban areas, the traditional footballing hotbeds, deprived of basic facilities, clubs and leagues.

Members of Noel Blake's England Under-19 side have defied the odds to become the best in the country at their age.

Perhaps an even greater challenge for them will come when they return to their clubs. But one wonders how many possible England stars of the future have been lost to the game before they ever had the chance to impress.


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  • Comment number 1.

    A great article, but I also think the clubs will be looking to the new 'home grown' structure to try and reduce their own costs. However this could come at the price of promising youngsters being signed up on lucrative pro contracts sooner than they would have in the past, in order to meet the three year 'home grown' rule.

    This in itself could have negative effect - you only have to look at some of the GB athletics funding to see underachieving athletes being granted large awards of loettery and UK Sport money (until recently)

  • Comment number 2.

    Fully agree with your comments about kids getting a chance in the Prem. It's actually better for kids to come up through the FL teams, make a name for themselves in the FL and then move on. Connor Wickham would be better staying at Ipswich for at least another year to learn his trade before moving on, otherwise he'll be stuck playing reserve team football.

    We had the same talk here at Swindon in regards to Charlie Austin. There has been talk that a number of clubs were interested.Luckily, he has decided to stay put and continue to learn in the lower leagues.

    Saying that we in Swindon are still in shock after seeing Frank Nouble score twice on Sunday. We had him on loan from West Ham towards the end of last season, and he didn't look like scoring, in League 1, when he played.

  • Comment number 3.

    i wish there was a rule were prem clubs had to start 4 english players every game. problem solved for ENGLISH football. works in Russia

  • Comment number 4.

    One point is that there is very little interest shown by the British media to youth and junior championships. At the moment the U-19 European Championship is being held and in 30 minutes England play Holland in their second match (comment written at 17.30 CET) but this is not even mentioned on the BBC nor in any of the British national newspapers. Here in Spain it warrants at least a full page in the sports dailies and gets a mention in the general papers.

  • Comment number 5.

    RE point 3, - Russia are able to do that as they are not part of the European 'Union'

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good article Dan and we are right to be concerned about what happens with the young talent coming through. However I'm not sure this is something that will be arrested until the quota system comes in to play there will be nothing we can do. As it is now a business and managers need immediate results they are likely to go out and buy established stars.

    I would like to pick up though your example of Laurence. You are a little harsh in suggesting that being farmed out on loan rather than a first team opportunityhas hindered his career. I would suggest that at Everton he is more likely than probably anywhere else to have got his chance in the first team thatn anywhere else - if you look at all our youngsters who have come through (and we have a few more promising ones also who were members of the U17 championship winning sides too), Vaughan/Anichebe/Gosling/Rodwell/Hibbert/Osman - all given their chance by Moyesy and of those only Vaughan as been sent out on loan with a view to getting him some match fitness because of injuries. Yes a number of other youngsters have gone out on loan but this is only perhaps because they havent shown the ability yet they can affect the first team results. If they are good enough at Everton they'll make it. I think you'll see Gosling's career peter out now as he doesn't have the pace which is why if he really was a decent prospect at the top level Everton would have made sure he signed.

    Don't just pigeon hole English teams as letting people down - perhaps it is the hole English psyche that is at fault - there is a long list of players not reaching their potential - one is Sonny Pike who went to Ajax at 7 - I seem to remember reading somewhere that he played in the same junior team in the UK as David Bentley but Bentley moved on before Sonny as he didn't like not being the best player in the team. Sonny ended up having a nervous breakdown at 17 because of the pressure - his parents split up becuase his Dad was so pushy. Too many kids and parents want to be footballers becuase of the lifestyle attached to it rather than the reward of simply being the best players they can be and winning medals. That will never change in football as it is a business now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is the FA not shooting itself in the foot by having a rule which states that clubs are only able to sign British youngters within a certain distance from the club? I imagine this is rule is intented to protect "smaller" clubs.

    I for one do not blame the fact on the amount of foreigners in the Premiership, regardless of your nationality, if you are good enough you will play. Arsenal have produced numerous English players these last few years. They have not gone on to play for Arsenal because they are simply not good enough.(Bentley, Hoyte, Stuart Taylor, Upson, O'Hara) If they were good enough, do you think Wenger would have sold them and bought from abroad? I dont think so!

    The way players are developed in England has only been rectified in the last decade or so. Abroad, youngters are told cherish the ball, to love it and to train with the ball. Over here in England we had a mentality where the physical aspect was almost more important than the technical aspect of football. This has now been corrected and we should see a number of promising english footballers coming through.

    Oh and great Russian players aren't exactly in abundance are they?

  • Comment number 9.

    A good blog and some really good points made.

    Except for the example you give regarding Laurence Wilson. A product of the Everton youth academy. In the past 15 or so years, Everton have given plenty of chances to players who have proven to be good enough at the highest level. David Moyes alone has successfully brought through: Tony Hibbert, Jack Rodwell, Wayne Rooney, Leon Osman, Shayne Duffy, Jose Baxter, Mark Hughes, James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe, who have gone onto play for the Everton 1st team within the premiership. I may have missed others.

    He has also invested in youth from other academies and teams in Scott Spencer, John Ruddy, Lukas Jutkeiwitz, Seamus Coleman and Dan Gosling.

    Is the everton birthplace 60% foreign? From Eng, Sco, Wal, Ire, NIre

    Evertons squad is: 54% Homegrown
    46% Foreign.

    Out of that foreign denomination 5 out of the 14 foregin players are from either USA, Australia, South Africa, or Nigeria

    Fact remains that England under 19 honours do not represent anything for the future. Rodwell could still make this current squad, however he is too good for that level to be considered.

    The under 19 tournament, unlike any other is a grey area that is more of a last chance football league saloon for players who have not yet fully made the grade. Sad, but true.

    Wilson currently plays for Morecambe. Thus proving he was never able to make the step up to premiership football.

  • Comment number 10.

    You have raised some very good points, and this reminds me of a conversation I had with my wife a couple of weekends ago. I’m 33 and we start our Sunday league pre-season this week so I thought I would go to the local pitch on a Sunday morning to do a bit of running etc… 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning, a week after the world cup final, and I was the only person in a park with 3 football pitches with a ball… Now when I was 15 I am sure there would have been a lot more, so something seriously wrong is going on…

    Secondly, my wife is from Peru, you cannot go 5 minutes down any street without seeing a 5-a-side pitch, mainly in concrete but with goals and a basketball hoop. Now Peru are hardly a great football nation at the moment but access to football, with goals, is far easier. I appreciate that Councils take goals down to protect pitches and stop vandals but it also discourages people from playing.

    You need to have easy access, and to have council owned 5-a-side pitches, that are free to use, would be a huge help. Not just sports centres and 5-a-side leagues that charge. But I am sure in our society now they would get trashed rather than used properly. We need to get children playing football for fun again. Jumpers for goal posts and I'm Gazza... OK that was when I was 15...

  • Comment number 11.

    A very interesting article, one that points to the fact that youth internationals do not always translate into top stars.

    I would like to pick up on one point though - the case of Laurence Wilson should hardly serve as a morbid warning. Not wishing to criticise the bloke (never even heard of him" but if he really did have "the World at his feet" he wouldn't be playing for Morecambe now, would he? It's probably closer to the truth that the guy had potential, which never really translated into top class talent.

    There are people who get let go by bigger clubs and blossom at slightly lesser ones (I'm a Leicester fan, and our ex-Liverpool centre half Jack Hobbs springs to mind), but if these kids really do have so much enormous talent and potential, they would make the first team squad at the bigger clubs. Big clubs are only interested in getting the best players in their side - if they are having to go abroad to do so, then I'd offer that it is simply the fact that the English youngsters aren't as good as what else is on offer.

  • Comment number 12.

    England will never win the world cup, when the Premier League and the FA are not amicable and the PL is basically a business which only wants to further its appeal, they have no concerns for the national team.
    I really hope the U19 side do not win the tournament as it will be anoyther generation of English footballers christened the messiah/golden generation and expectaion heaped on them before they can even develop as footballers.

  • Comment number 13.

    Westhamutd for Europe, Starting with 4 englishman in every game?

    I look forward to seeing ZERO english teams in the champions league second round next season and English Premier league having a considerably worse standard than the Spanish and Italian leagues as a result.

    Lets face facts since the introduction of foreign players into the premiership it has got better to watch and to a higher standard. Lets not ruin the PL just so England can make it thorugh one extra round or two at the next WC.

    No one seems to mention that Cesc Fabregas couldn't get a game at Barca so he came to Arsenal as a reject. Maybe some of our rejects could go and play in another country if they can't cut it at prem level or complain about not getting games.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think that half of the problem is the lack of exposure given to the younger sides, and apparent lack of interest from everyone - especially the media.

    In South America - all Under 19 tourament games are televised terestrial, therefore making the young players household names, and therefore given clubs more push to play them week in, week out.

    I for one was looking forward to the Under 19's. I watched the opener with Austria, and I am now sitting down to watch this game too. It's a shame not more interest could be made of this.

    I would suggest that 75% of those "fans" watching the World Cup and moaning about how awful England were do not even realise that the Under 19 Euros are evening happening at the moment - and there's half the problem.

  • Comment number 15.

    11. At 4:47pm on 21 Jul 2010, Mik wrote:

    I agree with you, Arsenal are largely criticised for not producing enough English youth but as mentioned Stuart Taylor, Jamie O'Hara, David Bentley, Ashley Cole, Mattthew Upson, Justin Hoyte, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Rhys Weston, and there a more have all had decent careers, some international, if Arsenal had say Upson, Gibbs, Wilshere, Bentley and Ashley Cole in the starting line up no one would complain but people move on, some just were not good enough for what at the time these players were produced was the best team in the land.

  • Comment number 16.

    No one seems to mention that Cesc Fabregas couldn't get a game at Barca so he came to Arsenal as a reject. Maybe some of our rejects could go and play in another country if they can't cut it at prem level or complain about not getting games.


    That statement regarding Fabregas is completely misleading, he joined Arsenal 3 months after his 16th birthday, I'm sure he wasnt expecting many games then but then again who would a that age at a club like Barca. To call him a reject is farcical.

  • Comment number 17.

    Jean Marc Bosman has a lot to answer for - as does Rupert Murdoch.

    Not sure why it is such a quandry in Brittish football - if the Germans can instigate the rules they have without falling foul of EU employment law then why doesn't UEFA instigate it across all member associations - failure of Leagues to comply leading to expulsion from UEFA at a club and national level.

    If you leave it to the individual leagues of FA's to decide of course they are not going to - see Wenger's shameful input into the matter (of course he doesn't mind a squad of developing French players as it strengthens his homelands national team). The top clubs will be motivated by self interest and Liverpools statistic is staggering. It's not restricted to England however as the Inter team also had zero Italian input - I think Balotelli may have come on as a late sub along with Matterazzi.

    One plus of the current poor financial state of the Scottish game is the opportunity it is providing for young Scots players to get 1st team and European experience. You only have to look at the likes of Steven Fletcher, James McCarthy (although "Irish") and now Wilson and McArthur have all benefitted from the absence of money in Scotland. Wilson for example would not have had a sniff of a 1st team game with Rangers in the days when they were shelling out 12M and 40k a week to players like Tore Andre Flo. In Scotland only Celtic are going down the foreigner route in an attempt to buy the title but given the clown they have in charge there it is hardly surprising they are not being to clever!

  • Comment number 18.

    An interesting article, plenty of food for thought. Ironic though that the example of Frank Nouble is cited with regards to West Ham - if more clubs in the Premiership applied themselves to the furtherance of youth development even half as much as West Ham have done for the past few decades, maybe there wouldn't be such a malaise?
    It's a catch 22 for many clubs - dare they risk playing/developing kids when a chequebook is quicker? Football clubs per se are firstly interested in the short term, so not surprisingly they go for the quick fix. Sadly the bigger clubs who could safely indulge in the long-term(top 6) don't generally apply themselves to youth development as they should...although ironically Man City have a fine youth system that now seems to be obsolete for them!
    As for Nouble himself, he's still very very raw - and to be fair West Ham have an almost incomparable record of blooding Academy graduates into the 1st team...before flogging them on, of course! ;-)

  • Comment number 19.

    Frank Nouble was useless at West Brom. Bone idle. He was also, I'm told, exactly the same at Swindon. In both cases, he was given chances and failed to bother to take them.

    Youngsters need to be given chances, but if like Frank, you fritter them due to lack of effort, you deserve absolutely nothing.

    You picked a poor example to focus on, as Frank's career will go the way of Luke Moore and others with similar attitude problems.

  • Comment number 20.

    I've been posting on these boards for how long and still my comment is awaiting moderation?

  • Comment number 21.

    Are people forgetting we have just won the U16 European Champs beating Spain

  • Comment number 22.

    I can see the point you are making with the article, but an awful example has been picked. Fank Nouble was loaned out to the Albion last season, we were firing on all cylinders at the top of the table and the team was playing pretty well. He came to the club and was picked, what did he do? Well he sulked around with a rotten attitude. He clearly didn't want to play and he got his wish, in double quick time RDM sent him packing. His attitude was a disgrace. So, when some young English players are given an opportunity to shine, they don't grasp it.

  • Comment number 23.

    Player development is just one part of the problem with English football. The biggest problem with English football is that of identifying talent. One has to identify talent by age 13. That is the first and foremost thing before any development can start. A future football player has to have the ball skills by 13, the physical prsence by 16, and tactical awareness by 17. Unfortunately many of the yougsters who come through lack basic talent. I will not name names, but even prominent players in the EPL who are English would not last 5 minutes in a foreign league. What they don't have in talent is made up for by media hype in England, and people belive all of it until when it comes to a major international championship.
    I agree with Wenger that limiting the number of foreign players is of no use. The EPL already has its share of poor English players. Flooding it with many more of even a lower standard will neither help the EPL or England. A player of given ability does not become much better just because he is pushed into the PL. He will most likely be out of his depth very quickly. The whole idea of limiting foreign players seems to suggest that there is brilliant English talent out there that is being stopped from developing into world class stars. This is of course not true. Every PL manager would die to get a sensational English youngster, to have 6 or 7 English players who are just as good as the foreign ones that they have, believe me. Problem is with the identification of talent in England. And talent is not enough. From a massive pool of talented 13 year olds, you still have to find those who will have what it takes physically, and more important mentally. Those who persist and have the mental side of winners. Youngsters should be motivated by the love they have for football, not the David Beckham lifestyle. There is plenty that is not right with English football at the moment. A quota system is only likely to give you tons of Bentlys and Pennants. And if they know that they have guaranteed places at the highest level of English football, that can only be ba bad thing for the England side.

  • Comment number 24.

    The problem with the 'home-grown' rule is that most of our top clubs' already have eight gifted and young 'foreign' lads cooking away on their academy books whom having been bought over at great expense at the age of 16 or 17 are surely favourites to occupy the 'H.G.' berths 3 years down the line?

    Why aren't the likes of Chrissy Waddle not advocating our youngsters take a similar opportunities by suggesting they ply their trade in other European domestic leagues other than our own - perhaps at Marseille? The likes of Steve McLaren should employ young English talent at Wolfsburg the same way Wenger has favoured the French at Arsenal and Benitez the Spanish at Liverpool or are they just not good enough?

    Our island mentality holds us back. The Premier League isn't even a suitable nursery ground for creating international quality tournament footballers as demonstrated by this years poor showing by most PL players in S.A.! Time to look outside the box.

  • Comment number 25.

    Quote from Dan Roan: " that squads must now contain a maximum of 25 players over the age of 21, of whom eight must be 'home-grown'."

    A better way to phrase the rule is as follows;
    "A squad can have no more than 17 over the age of 21 and not home grown. Players who are aged under 21 are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad."

    Quote from Dan Roan: "The club's capture of young Rangers defender Danny Wilson is yet more evidence of the attempt to sign British talent to meet Uefa's new regulations on 'home-grown' players."

    Dan, that is a bit misleading what you write.
    The definition of 'home grown' is as follows;
    "Is trained for three years under the age of 21 by somebody in the English and Welsh professional system."

    It does not mention the Scottish professional system and hence Wilson will not be classed as 'home-grown'. Though because he is 18 in 3 years time he will be 'home-grown'.

  • Comment number 26.

    The biggest challenge for our youth is money vs playing time. When a talented youngster performs well in all those under 16/17/reserve team games they quite often get presented with some opportunities. However most go to a big club earn a few grand a week playing reserve team footie and then hit the pubs & clubs with the senior team to really live the lie. Result never get to play, waste the chance to properly develop but enjoy the nice home, the women, the car and the fame.

    Without rambling on any further here is what I suggest -

    1.Ban the international transfers of anyone under the age 18, that would force every club to focus upon what talent the country possesses.

    2.Ban agents from representing anyone under the age of 21 and instead have "career councillors" who can advise. These councillors can be made up of past & present footballers/coaches but ultimately be FA/Prem approved.

    3.Have a tribunal set valuations for transfer fee involving all domestic transfers of English players. Milner £23m? Carrick £16m? No way!

    4.Offer every youngster a chance to study so they have something to fall back on and who knows they may make smarter decisions on & off the field because of it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Excellent article, although as an Everton fan I have to take exception with your Lawrence Wilson example! Because of the club's financial difficulties, I think we have one of the better records in the Premiership of bringing through young players to play at top level. I saw Lawrence play a number of times for my homegrown club Chester City, and I'm sorry but he just wasn't good enough to play at a higher level. Then again, i do find it puzzling how as a club we produce so many England youth internationals yet so few senior England players, despite our record for blooding youngsters in the first team. Is it to do with the fashionability of the club, or is it something to do with the fact that over the past 20 years we have tended towards the more, shall we say, physical approach to the game.

    I totally agree that the issue is much deeper than kids getting a chance in the first team for their clubs. At the end of the day, if you're good enough, you will play in the Premier League, and the reason so many clubs look abroad is that our youngsters lack technical and tactical ability. That is down to the way we approach the game right down to the level of school matched at under-8 or under-9 level - kick, chase and do all it takes to win. Unfortunately, that is embedded deep in our footballing DNA as a country, and it is going to take something monumental to shift attitudes to start coaching kids to pass and dribble. On the pessimistic side, it's nothing new that fluent passing football leaves our players for dead - look at the 6-3 humiliation by Hungary in the 1950s, we didn't learn then, so why expect us to now? On the other hand, maybe all these years of exposure to the more advanced skills of foreign players in the Premier League will finally see the penny drop, and help trigger the change in culture we desperately need.

  • Comment number 28.

    As with all business, football is far too top-heavy, the only way to improve things is to start at the bottom and the only way to do this is at school.

    This isn't just for sport but for health too, we have an obesity epidemic on the horizon as more and more kids are deprived of sport in their most important years and the only real way to address the situation would be to have compulsory sport every day from primary schools upwards.

    It doesn't just have to be football, but if fitness in any guise was part of the curriculum then only things that kids would need to learn about particular sports would be the basic techniques, without forcing competition on them until they're big and old enough to warrant or need it.

    Sadly this would cost a fortune and both teachers and parents would whinge that it wasn't fair, but if you consider the alternative decades in the future, what choices do we really have?

  • Comment number 29.

    Possibly your best article yet for the Beeb Dan. Really well researched and fresh. Some people like to say England have no good young players but our success in the age group comps recently shows we do.

  • Comment number 30.

    The reasons are so deep-rooted for England's failure its going to take years. Too many agendas and interests.

    Premier League want the best product which means the best players on show so they won't sanction the English players rule.
    Fans want instant success because ticket prices are so high.
    The FA board is too divided to do anything decisive. Wembley was unnecessary, fans would feel more connected if England played around the country.
    The clubs want instant success because their debts are so high, and Christmas games bring in most money so they won't want a winter break.
    Television (ok, i mean Sky) want a game on every week as they pay a fortune for the rights, so won't be happy with a 3 week winter break.

    We fuss about this Burton training centre but you can imagine that won't be a fertile breeding ground, more a place where street footballers will be coached to death and lose any maverick ability they had.

    It all points to continued failure of the England team

  • Comment number 31.

    Interesting article and responses. To the main point, I think the new rules may succeed both in lowering the standard of play and in not helping young England players. It seems to me what's needed for the future of English international football is a bit of money and organization to go into supporting the top 25 or so players of every age group, really to help make sure they are at the right place and the right time to optimize their development.

    The idea of an hour of sport every day at school is excellent, and well worth the time and money investment. I'd go further and suggest an hour of (age-appropriate) sport for everyone of every age every day. I started doing that again at the tender age of 42 and am amazed how much happier and healthier I am. People tend to short sports and sleep due to time pressures as they get older, and I'm as sure as I can be that somehow, some way, they should short anything but those. The result is tired people overeating both because they're tired and because it's their main source of enjoyment.

    Finally, the lack of interest in age group sport in England is striking. I'm a Yank newish fan, and am sadly ignorant, partly due to the lack of coverage. In the US, the under-23s in basketball and gridiron are more popular than the professional leagues--though of course it's in the guise of "college" sports. It makes a mockery of education, I'll grant you, but it's nice to have stadiums of 110,000 full every weekend to watch youth sports.

  • Comment number 32.

    This idea is very unpopular, but one solution is to allow Prem clubs B teams like in spain. They represent their clubs in a competitive lower league and get fantastic experience along the way. This is in comparison to the joke that is reserve team football - one match every blue moon against half fit journeymen. This allows the clubs with the best facilities to develop the best players in a compettitve environment. Just like at Barca, where young players earn their wings in the B team.

    Why has no one mentioned that the sudden standard of Spanish talent shooting up directly corresponds to the formation of these B teams in the 90s? (Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Puyol and Bojan all have 30 apps for this team)

    1. Because the sports press and ex players in this country are ignorant of everything abroad and are currently just bleating on about playing 4-5-1 and too many foreigners.
    2. It will lead to smaller clubs folding.

  • Comment number 33.

    "This idea is very unpopular, but one solution is to allow Prem clubs B teams like in spain."

    What and have these B teams instead of professional lower league clubs? Would never work in England. Benitez flouted this idea a few years ago and it did not go down well in the football league.

  • Comment number 34.

    Good article. I believe the most salient point was half-made at the end, however. One of the biggest problems with English football is the attitude taken by most people towards how it should be played. We consistently put our hopes on players with pace and strength who are lacking technical ability and mental strength. Even looking at recent articles about our U17 and U19 teams the emphasis is on whether they win their respective championships, rather than how well they played. For me it isn't important that they win every game, but that they are developing into technically able and intelligent football players (who cares if they win the U19 Euros? I want them to win the world cup when they're 26!). I notice this over-emphasis on results throughout football, and i think it is destructive. People consistently judge a striker (and often an attacking midfielder) by how many goals he scores, rather than his overall contribution to the team. This is stupid and narrow-minded and a symptom of the results-driven and narrow way in which players are evaluated.

  • Comment number 35.

    If our youngsters feel restricted why oh why don't they show backbone and move to a more accessible Holland, Portugal or France?!!

    Same old English sob story basically 'bloody foreigners coming over and stealing our jobs'. Well, show some initiative and ambition. Or settle for a lower league career and excuses...

  • Comment number 36.

    "Too many kids and parents want to be footballers becuase of the lifestyle attached to it rather than the reward of simply being the best players they can be and winning medals. That will never change in football as it is a business now."

    Very very good point.

  • Comment number 37.

    re 35 spaced invader

    The reasons English youngsters don't move abroad is because

    1. They would be paid a lot less.
    2. The English are terrible at learning foreign languages (made worse by the fact that footballers aren't usually very bright and leave school early).

  • Comment number 38.

    the problems with the youth championship is that thet best players are not in the right catergory as they are too good for their own age so our under 19s might play a team of 17 year olds because that country dont have any under 21s so they use their 19 year olds their
    or the star players move on
    messi for example played one season for the under 20s for argentina, he also played for the main side that year

  • Comment number 39.

    Re: size and strength: as someone whose native sports mainly favor behemoths, it seems underappreciated that smaller is better in football, because so much depends on being able to change direction quickly, which in turn correlates directly with how low the center of gravity is. No doubt you want at least a couple of relatively tall defenders to defend against headers, and a tall forward or two to score them. But most players should be Maradona, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta size for best results. So unless I'm missing something, height should be considered a negative, rather than a positive, in evaluating youth players.

  • Comment number 40.

    When you cite the example of Frank Nouble, simply because he's just scored against Austria, you question where his first team opportunities will come from?

    Perhaps from working hard and doing well in training?

    If the guy performs better in training than either of the two foreign buys, why wouldn't he be given his chance? Because Avram Grant wants the board to think they're getting their money's worth? I think not. He's going to put out the team that will give West Ham the best chance in the league, whether that has Frank Nouble in it or not, I would trust that his judgement in what works for the club is better than yours.

  • Comment number 41.

    Cheap cheap cheap excuse for inferior technical players. As a nation all our efforts must be based on producing better quality prospects not big bustling brute or fast players that has no intelligence, vision, technique or 1st touch. This means our 5-9 year old have to be exposed high quality age-appropriate coaching not Charles Hughes type coaching.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the major issue is attitude, both of players and fans.

    In my view, players seem to believe they have made it as soon as they sign a professional contract. Unfortunately it is only the start. If a player is good enough and has the right attitude they will make it. If a youngster is not getting a game then they should head out on loan either to a lower division club or a team abroad. The Netherlands or Belgium would be ideal countries to head out to, with a great emphasis on bringing through youngsters whilst the standard is still good with a few top sides to play against.

    Also the fans need to take some responsibility. Recently there has been a win at all costs mentality. Instant success is required with fans quickly jumping at the chance to declare a player is not good enough. Give a player some time to develop within the squad and let the better players blossom. An example is at Everton with many fans declaring Dan Gosling is not good enough. Maybe this is a little to do with sour grapes and the players attitude with the transfer but it is hard to say an u-21 players will not be good enough within a couple of years.

  • Comment number 43.

    The biggest problem with English football is not the developing of players but the money in the game. Whenever a manager talks about a game its the costs, not the results that seem to be the main concern. Allardyce at Blackburn spoke about the target for winning the last couple of games was that each placing was worth about 500k, so the 1.5million from the wins can be considered worth more than playing young players and accepting that a defeat is part of a longer term plan. Same applies for going down or up, the parachute payments, etc are worth more than developing players who, if it does go wrong, can be sold to steady the ship and allow the club to move forward. That's why clubs like Hull and Portsmouth went down without any players from their own youth systems playing.

    However the money issue extends beyond the clubs. Ex players are more likely to become pundits in a non-risk job rather than become a coach. Even those who do start, if sacked become pundits. Look at Southgate, Waddle and co. Other countries have their ex players becoming coaches in leagues all over the globe and my view is that coaching at any level in any league anywhere develops coaching abilities as well as giving English players the chance to move abroad. Craig Short has been a recent example of why this should be the way forward. Sadly the ex players make more money or easy money moaning about the problems rather than solving them.

    Finally the players, look at other nations who export players, this only helps to develop our reputation and player base. Even in league 1 and 2 there are players who have came from abroad, willing to move to develop or work in football. Our players drop down rather than move abroad as the money is still 'good' compared to better leagues standard wise in Europe.

    A final comment on the report, Frank Nouble may not be the best person to use as an example. Not due to 'poor' performances that fans of Swindon and WBA have talked about but the fact at 18 he has played a number of times for West Ham, who also have done well giving topflight games to Sears, Tomkins and co.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have to say that when I saw Frank Nouble play for WBA I wondered if they had signed a lookalike. He came with a rep of being a fast, powerful player with an eye for goal. He looked dire. Seems as though performances after that didn't go too well either as he was soon shipped back and farmed out on loan to Swindon, a league below. He didn't do anything there either.

    The problem is quite clear, he already thinks that he has 'made it'. He obviously though he was the main man being a Prem contracted player playing in lower leagues. Maybe thought reputation alone was enough to earn him praise. Clearly its just another case of too much too young for these players.

    He ain't alone. John Bostock another talented player given too much to young, thought he was too good to put effort into playing for Brentford. I have no sympathy for these kind of players. They will go nowhere in the long term. Short term sure, they are mini celebs amongst there peers and will have done well financially, probably well enough to never work again even if they are released, but they will never be remembered.

    Not all players are like that, some such as Tom Cleverly and Jack Wilshere pushed for loan moves and really worked hard to better themselves. These lads are the real professionals. It is important to note that these came through the ranks of top top clubs who dont just hand out silly money to youngsters to prevent them straying. I think that should be a warning for future clubs who want to sign talented youngsters, make them EARN there money first.


  • Comment number 45.

    The last time England won the 'big prize' in international football was, as we all know, in 1966. England's sequence of, on the whole, very average performances since (occasionally flattering to deceive) then have led some people to conclude that the victory in 1966, was infact some sort of fluke, a one-off, something we could never repeat!
    Others have started to search for the 'holy grail' or 'magic bullet', and are convinced that once we find this, England shall once again rule the world of football.
    As your article indicates there have been numerous media debates, FA reports, investigations, forums, conferences, et al over the years and we are still no nearer finding a solution -the latest fad is the young English players are being 'done down' by the nasty clubs (PL assumed!)-they are buying foreigners, instead of letting our lads have a chance- how dare they!!
    There used to be a saying in football, which I am sure applied to most, if not all of the England squad that actually won in 1966 - " if you are good enough, you are old enough", meaning of course that talent will out -eventually! Forty odd years ago Football was the No.1 sport in England for the majority of young men, not golf, not snooker (although it had been around a while), not cycling, athletics, not even cricket - why? As much as anything because all you needed to play was a ball (of whatever size!) and some reasonable space, preferably with grass on, but quite often, just plain dirt, or tarmaced (even a few cobbled) streets -you could play on your own (i.e.'walley') or 17-a-side if you could find that many kids!
    Why are we making it into 'rocket science' solution, more importantly why is the FA still trying to be something it plainly isn't? We need one body in England to oversee and administer the laws and rules of the game, we need another to run the 'business' of football in England. Both these should be subject to the same Governance - there that was easy wasn't it!

  • Comment number 46.

    "To avoid contravening European Union freedom of labour laws, this does not necessarily mean home-grown players have to be English."

    If this is the case then why do you write "In Germany, the rules are stricter. Twelve players in any Bundesliga squad must be 'home-grown' and be able to qualify to play for the national team."? Last time I checked Germany was in the EU...

  • Comment number 47.

    Interesting article.

    While it's not a solution, on a minor point regarding '"access opportunities" for the country's best young players', if foreign players can move to the UK, why can't our players try moving abroad? If the EPL spots talent abroad, surely the other leagues look at what's happening here and if the local players are as good, or potentially as good you say, they will be snapped up by other clubs here or abroad? It's a two way street no? Market forces, movement of goods and services? all that.

    "Sensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona,he joined Arsenal, signing for the London club in September 2003."

  • Comment number 48.

    yes english young players need protection from the FA in order to hone their skills in the prem but british football also need a FA who understand the requirements of big national far as i know the major cause of england flop at this world cup,cappello is still the england manager.he has stopped worrying over grass length now and is consuming his time on getting his player rating system off the web even while recieving a hefty salary.england need a british manager who understand the culture of british players and therefor knows how to keep them happy in order to get the best out of them. WHY DO YOU THINK SIR ALEX HAS KEPT MANU WITH A CORE OF BRITISH PLAYERS OVR THE YRS,ITS NO MAJIC HE UNDERSTANDS THESE PLAYERS.caps must go ASAP before england can rebound.'PS WITH CAPPELLO WE MIGHT NOT BE IN THE NEXT EURO

  • Comment number 49.

    Was gutted for Nathan, extremely unlucky to fall for that horrendous decision from the referee.

    We should have more coverage of the youth teams, especially U21s U19s U17s - they are a talented group, just a shame the senior team can't reflect this.

  • Comment number 50.

    Laurence Wilson? I'm sorry but the reason he is with Morcambe has nothing to do with chances and all to do eith him not being good enough.

    If he could not convince at Everton, a club who have given chances to Jack Rodwell, Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan in recent years then he didnt deserve to make it.

    All the new rules are going to do is make things worse, now clubs must bring foreign youngsters in before their 18th birthday for them to be home grown so will flood their academies with kids from all corners of the globe instead of waiting to see how they progress and picking them up at 20/21.

  • Comment number 51.

    ok we wanna talk about not enough english chances but take adam johnson at man city, hes been class and has massive potential and shown how good he is every time he plays so what do they do? yes pay £20 odd million for david silva. a guy who plays johnsons position. david silvas transfer to city will now more likely than not force johnson to be a squad player who rarely plays.

    and perhaps if english players werent over priced, ie milner £30 mill they want apparently get lost villa but ur just part of the problem. its more money than anything now.

    look at us at arsenal we give english players their chances. ashley cole, pennant and bentley got cocky and big headed and we let go. gibbs will be a star eventually but right now hes defensively shaky and needs more time, wilshere needs more prem exp so give him to bolton for another season.

    arsenals team in a few years will be filled of enlgish players and we wud be now if they werent over priced im sorry but if milner is been valued at £30 mill then fabregas is worth at least £60 and barca wont pay that for someone who still counts as "home grown" or wud if he went back yet in various ways they pay upto £68 mill (i know including etoo) for ibrahimovic.

    the simple fact is that english players dont get to play regular cus they arent good enough. walcott atm is another example hes had alot of chances n yet doesnt improve

    over in spain they dont make such a fuss over homegrown problems because they produce quality players especially barca, real and valencia n sevilla if they didnt have so many theyd be moaning about the same as us. and even alot of the lower clubs in spain get players from barcas and especially reals youth n reserve teams only for them to be sold back later on

    as arsene says if youre good enough you play. if you arent then you dont its not a matter of nationality or biase toward a certain country its based on quality. for example milner works hard but for overall quality and not just hard work, nasri and arshavin are better hands down and both together cost less than what milner is been vgalued at

  • Comment number 52.

    heres one solution based on the idea of having B teams. why not have the regular premier league as it is now. but underneath it between the prem n the championship have a "b" league. where the current prem teams for that season participate but have to field at least 8 english players. and should they prove good enough to warrant it they then shud be made to play for the first team in cup competitions. teams like man utd, arsenal chelsea and liverpool etc aint fussed usually bout these so make them and everyone else field teams who again have at least 8 english players in these cup games. not only would that force top teams and the rest to field alot more english players more regularly but would also make the fa cup and league cups alot more even so everyone has a chance rather than just the same 4/5 teams every year. and in that "b" league every year just take out the 3 teams who go down and replace them with the 3 that come up like u would in the normal prem. this would also promote the idea to players that they only earn starts if they put in effort and the right attitude and that the cups would be a step towards the first league team if they prove themselves worthy. just my idea anyway

    ps i once tried to play football for my school team as a youngster and i have always admired teams who like to play and when i tried out i did what i always do play on the ground. like to receive the ball and play it around and use skill and vision to open spaces up etc and i got rejected in favour of the ones who just humped it forward with no vision, no skill or technique or anything like that :( everytime i go out to play football i try to play my football in the style of xavi and messi etc its what makes the game fun and i got turned away for what the coach of the team deemed to be "un english"

  • Comment number 53.

    The elephant in the room here is the general weakening of the league. I'm not convinced that you improve anything by crippling something else.

    Youngsters developed at the (still impressive) youth schemes at the top clubs need to get competitive game time by moving, even just on loan, to clubs further down the league/s. That youth talent over-spill out of the top flight is bound to be beneficial to the smaller clubs, is it not? If you handicap the Premier League clubs then it makes them weaker and will, ultimately, make the lower league clubs weaker.

    Somebody above mentioned Russia as a good example of where a similar ruling works. Well, Russia didn't qualify for the World Cup so it did them lots of good.

    It sounds like one of those knee-jerk policies that a vastly over-charging management consultancy would come up with in order to justify its fee, trying to latch on to the xenophobic/slightly racist feelings that accompany nationalism and dressing them up as rational.

    Unfortunately the success and wealth of the premier league (or, at least, the revenue it generates) doesn't really sit well in a country that likes to back the underdog. The Premier League is a nice scapegoat for the failings of the country in producing talent.

  • Comment number 54.

    There are a number of deep issues to look at here.

    Are these young talents going to be snapped up by the super clubs in order to fulfill the FA's requirements and have no chance of actually getting on the field. The wages they would be on would not be comparative to the super stars causing resentment and internal divisions.

    Money is always the bottom line when it comes to supporting new talent. I would love to see the funds going into the smaller clubs who are harvesting the younger home grown talent and into the encouragement of more academys in the top flight. The clubs are all cash strapped and the players earning silly amounts of money in wages and sponsorships. In the same way the general behavior of players is not improving on the field. The game is fast and the referees are struggling to make those on the spot decisions. However Rugby successfully uses after match analysis to identify cheating and foul play and then punishes the players and clubs directly. I would love to see players personally punished for foul language, abusive behavior towards the referee and violent conduct. Don't fine the clubs because they are broke already. Fine the players, not a set amount, but a percentage of their wages. Feed that money back into the youth system and into supporting the lower league sides struggling to stay afloat. I am not suggesting giving them cash but giving them the education to be able to run a better business for the future. Give them a marketing companies input for a week, or an accounting expert to get there books in order, general business input.
    I would love to see football raise its mark in its behaviors and in its homegrown ability. England is a great team and always will be. It is going to need a lot of support and sensible business management for England to lift that trophy again.

  • Comment number 55.

    Young players also have a professional duty to themselves and to develop their own career. Sitting in West Ham reserves on £10,000 a week until your 25/26 is an easy way to make a living. But you can't blame foreigners if you don't break through. Young foreign lads seem relatively happy to spread their wings and learn their trade abroad, why don't english lads do the same. They could find a side in, say, France or Holland relatively easily, and play a good standard of football, if they were as good as we are to believe.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm sorry but this TIRED debate gets trawled up every time England do badly/fail to qualify for a tournament, which is...always!
    When it comes to club versus country clubs will always win in England, and this whole argument is forgotten as soon as the season starts.
    Examples such as Portugal who have been a mainstay of the latter stages of youth competitions for decades haven't replicated their success at senior level despite having their own 'golden generation', it just doesn't translate.
    As for young players having to leave their club for chances try one Gianfranco Zola, he had to compete at Napoli against Diego Maradona and Careca and his philosophy after that was that you just have to be good enough to be picked.
    At Utd once upon a time we had a bit of a no mark who couldn't make the grade in a weak team. We shifted him onto the Vancouver Whitecaps and a few years later he was making a name back at his hometown Newcastle, he was Peter Beardsley and that just wouldn't happen anymore. I think too few English players leave the country for new opportunities as there is too much cash in the English game, its more financially attractive to sit on the bench in the Championship that compete for a place in a feeder league and learn the game. This feeds through to the national game where world beaters at club level appear lethargic, inept and disinterested and its been the same story for as long as I can remember.
    I really believe there is a fundamental problem with our attitude to sport, we support the underdog and the strong are loathed. We reject winners (Steve Davis) and only love genius when its flawed (Alex Higgins). Losers like Eddie the Eagle are remembered over 20 years later when tryers and hopefuls are of no interest to anyone. Do the Aussies or the Yanks think like that, no chance. We are so quick to drone on about the past (1966) and have no grasp of reality at all when it comes to national football its like a nation of Newcastle supporters and their 'big club'.
    I see the point about home grown players, but as ever it will be scrutinised and the money clubs will exploit loopholes and just buy up young talent which the most forward thinking clubs have done for years anyway wherever they come from...erm West Ham.

  • Comment number 57.

    All the big clubs are suddenly signing 'home grown' talent in order to meet their quota. Big deal. The likes of Wilson, Smalling, Shelvey, etc will find themselves sat on the bench or in the stands when matchday rolls around, and will likely play only a handful of League Cup games between them this season.

    The new rules are nothing more than a tokenistic attempt to show something is being done. In reality, nothing will change unless we see a major attitude shift in Premier League clubs - we need more English owners and more English managers who, together, understand that they have a duty to develop English players.

  • Comment number 58.

    SPOT ON! Echoes my views published on previous BBC on line fora entirely. I just hope someone is listening and acting. If Germany can circumnavigate EU freedom of trade by their interpretation that home grwon equals qualified to play for the national team (England in our case) then so can we...SO GET ON WITH IT FA/PREMIER LEAGUE and politicians (DAMON GREEN) for immigration rules.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some very good points made in the main blog and the following comments. I agree with the posters who see the new rules as tokenism rather than a revolution.

    For a start, the Premier league is named the ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE, therefore players from outside England should be regarded as imported talent, Welsh, Scottish and Irish players should come under the same restrictions as any other European player.

    By introducing quotas of English players we run the risk of inflating their prices even further from the ridiculous levels they are already, to a level that will price out all but the top sides from affording them. This may have the effect of all but the top 6 clubs becoming nothing but academies, which would not only destroy the popularity of the EPL, but its financial standing too.

    I think the best we can hope for is that English Premier League clubs dominate the Champions league for a few years until Platini and Co. are sick of it and have a rethink about the make-up of the sides involved.

    Imagine this.. A champions league competition played on a more national basis, with each club side being represented by 15 of a 17 man squad from the clubs country, then the desired result of producing and playing home grown players would be obtained without the risk to the lower clubs, as all of the various European leagues would be shackled in the same manner....In short, sorting the problem from the top down instead of the bottom up....

  • Comment number 60.

    I think the media also need to stop hyping everyone up - as soon as a kid has a decent amount of talent he is suddenly dubbed the new Pele in this country - Joe Cole was a perfect example of this when he was a teenager.

    I read an article earlier in the week about how the U19 team showed the main team how its done - they beat the footballing powerhouse of Austria 3-2, that is hardly showing the guys who were in South Africa how it is done!

  • Comment number 61.

    'Imagine this.. A champions league competition played on a more national basis, with each club side being represented by 15 of a 17 man squad from the clubs country, then the desired result of producing and playing home grown players would be obtained without the risk to the lower clubs, as all of the various European leagues would be shackled in the same manner....In short, sorting the problem from the top down instead of the bottom up....'

    Sorry but the clubs are all commercial money making businesses, they would never let this happen - and besides the likes of the Real Madrid and Barcelona both have large numbers of foreign players in their first teams yet still help produce a world cup winning team.

  • Comment number 62.

    On reading this again, it has quite angered me how you have openly criticised evertons youth development model.

    You used Laurence Wilson as your example. Everton since David Moyes took over (8 years ago) have not released a player who has gone onto forge a career in the premiership. All of the players everton have released have beeen justified, including Wilson who struggled at Chester and is now fading at Morecambe.

    I do however uderstand your point in players who were not given sufficient opportunity as a result of a foregin signing.

    Bentley could have been a cheaper option to Hleb.

    Man Utd could have not signed Bellion and brought through Ebanks-Blake

    Chelsea may have nurtured Carlton Cole instead of splashing out on Kezman.

    My point is, like Everton have shown. Only sign foreign players to enhance your squad. It is best to have an average homegrown player than an average foreign player.

    Would I swap Leon Osman for Albert And i'd have saved myself £9m for my troubles.

  • Comment number 63.

    Noorwich - I am one of those Everton fans who have been critical of Gosling and his agent and their handling of the whole affair (Plymouth could have done with some money also). However, I am also one of those fans who has said that realistically it is not a big loss to us either - as someone who has watched him over the last few years I can't deny that technically he is a reasonable player but he simply doesn't have the pace (mentally as well as physically) to make it at the top level. I think mid to lower end of the premier league will be where he spends his career if not the championship. The issue with Gosling I believe is that he has Rodwell envy and there is no denying that he is not in the same class as Rodwell. He didn't like the fact that we offered Rodwell more money than we were offering him but he wasn't honest enough with himself to realise that we were fighting off Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal who all wanted to sign Rodwell (the clubs looking to sign Gosling for free are Newcastle/Bolton which tells it's own tale). It says a lot that the press were quoting us as losing a potential £4 million for him when the money talked about for Rodwell was £20 m plus.

    We are bitter about his behaviour but also realistic, if we truly believed him to be a top prospect don't you think Moyes would have made sure he was offered a new deal? One other point to note about Garbutt who was mentioned earlier about coming through Everton's youth system - he will be a great player I think but in all honesty we stole him from Leeds season before last.

  • Comment number 64.

    Perhaps the FA should get themselves along to Exeter City's Youth Academy where I witnessed an under 9's side put together a 15 pass move that resulted in a goal. And if you follow all the age groups through they have all been taught to be comfortable in possession of the ball. The current setup sees a youngster recieve something like 6000+ hours of contact time throughout the academy and the club will always look out for their best interests whether they are offered pro-terms or whether they don't quite make the grade.

    When the club nearly went bust after relegation in 2003 the Trust was set up to keep the youth team academies going (not expecting to be in full ownership of the club). We have already produced 3 players who have gained us nearly £1m in transfer fees by moving up the ladder to bigger clubs, and these players didn't even come through the full blown youth setup we now have.

    Despite what many think, there are a few clubs who operate like this, realising how important youth team players are to the lifeblood, not just of the club, but of the community, and there are lessons to be learnt from them.

  • Comment number 65.

    So once again everything is the fault of the foreign players, these evil people that come to England and leave a good English lad like Laurence Wilson to ply their trade at lowly Morecambe, when obviously since he played in a European U-19 final he should be playing week in week out in the Premier League.

    Your argument is flawed on so many levels but after every disappointing England performance you hear it, its all the fault of the foreigners.

    Playing youth football for England has never been a guarantee of success, even before the influx of foreign players there were stories of wasted talents from relatively successful England youth teams. Laurence Wilson was not the first to fail to make the grade in the top league and won't be the last.

    The influx of foreign players has clearly raised the level that players have to reach to get a game in the Premier League, but this is not a bad thing for the England team. Surely, having the world's best players in the Premier League demonstrates to players the level that they need to reach if they want to be a world class performer. If they are not up to it, they will not be successful England players.

    Imposing that squads have a large home grown element will only serve to weaken the quality of the Premier League and increase the salaries of average English players content to sit on a bench without complaint.

    You can look for all the excuses you want, the fact is the generation of England footballers over the last 12 years has had the talent to win an international competition, but has failed to deliver. That failure is certainly not due to foreign players.

  • Comment number 66.

    The comment at the end is the most interesting for me. Too much emphasis is placed on winning at a young age. If you take a group of 13-14 years olds some of them will be basically fully grown men and some will still be boys. This is where a well advanced lad with little actual skill can be the difference in a football match because he will have the power and pace to leave the less developed behind him. We need to reward teams for ball retention, technical skills and playing the game in the way it should. Not cheering the big lad who towers over the other players as he powers in a header from a corner....

  • Comment number 67.

    lol Nouble started with Chelsea in youth team football at under-12 level and was a regular in their youth team for the 2007–08 season. He made his Chelsea reserve team debut in November 2007.[2]
    n July 2009 he rejected the offer of a professional contract with Chelsea and on 21 July signed a five-year contract with West Ham United for an undisclosed fee.
    Not a west ham player and as for sir Trevor Brooking not the best coach going was he ,or did we all misss..... that one

  • Comment number 68.

    Dan you say that Nouble won't have the opportunity because West Ham have signed two foreign forwards but did you consider that it's more down to the fact that he just isn't good enough? Sure he's scored a few goals against some U-19 teams but that doesn't qualify him to be good enough for Premier League football. As a Swindon fan I saw him given ample opportunity at the back end of last season when we had him on loan. He played with no passion or desire and was pretty much a useless headless chicken. We were pushing for automatic promotion yet he didn't seem to care one bit. Perhaps if you paid attention to league games especially ones in the likes of League One you would stop blaming the arrival of talented foreign players and instead realise that the likes of Nouble just aren't good enough like a lot of English players.

  • Comment number 69.

    Why don't the FA Just let the EPL get on with it and put their efforts behind the Football League clubs to bring through the future of the game?
    Give them the money to support academies, provide rules and funding to encourage them to bring through the players, stop the EPL clubs grabbing the talent before they are 21 with a couple of years playing experience, use a US style draft system if needs be. That way, the young lads get chances to learn and improve by actually playing, the clubs get benefits for bringing players through without the risk that they'll be nicked and left to rot in the EPL reserve teams and supports the grassroots game rather than letting the Big Clubs ruin the game.

  • Comment number 70.


    Matt upson is not a home grown Arsenal player. He was signed from Luton Town.

  • Comment number 71.

    you mention 'european rules don't allow.. yadda yadda' and yet in the next sentence say.. 'the (german) rules are stricter.. i could have sworn germany is in the eu.. how come the discrepancy.. why can't we just enforce german rules.. my club, sheffield united had two brilliant full backs, kyle naughton and kyle walker.. they went to spurs where they have vanished without trace.. personally i think that the transfer deadline causes this.. big clubs feel the need to 'stock up' on players in case they need them.. they can't just go out and buy a player in an emergency like they would have done in the past

  • Comment number 72.

    The paucity of English/British players in the Premier League is certainly an important factor, but it's not the only one by any means. In essence, the point I'm making can be summed up by asking whether you remember those halcyon days starting with the World Cup qualifying campaign of 1974 through to circa 1992 when English teams were almost exclusively comprised of domestic players & were, at the same time, amongst the very best, if not the best, in Europe. Do you also remember the knock-on effect this had & how it led to a commensurately successful national team(s)? - no, I didn't think you would!

  • Comment number 73.

    I am pretty sure that EU Laws cant pick a starting XI - so why not rule that there must be 6 English players in a starting and finishing lineup? You can have 100 foreigners in your squad if you want, but 6 english players must start and finsh the game.

  • Comment number 74.

    If FIFA where to introduce salary limits for players under the age of 25 and structure those limits based on age, this would stop youngsters moving abroad. Also this would make the player quotas credible as young players are less likely to move between countrys and citys for the same money.

  • Comment number 75.

    How about simply adding a England Under something team to the Premier League.

    They would not be able to be relegated and so could take position in the league in one of two forms.
    The first approach could be to simply take a berth in the league. For this to happen four teams would be relegated the previous year with the fourth team gaining extra money in parachute payments, this would also have to drop down through the leagues to maintain the current league structure in terms of sides per league. The side would play a normal season just with all their games being away whilst keeping the team base at whereever they are current homed prior to tournaments.
    The second approach would be to just add them as a 21st team, and play each of the other sides only once. This would only add a 39th game to the season which was a mooted idea a while back anyway, which predominantly fell through because there was no underlying reason for it other than money. Since the 'England' side would not be relegated their points total is not officially significant. However any points they gained could just be doubled to give a comparison total, whilst any points gained by opponents would count for normal to ensure the matches did not just become a friendly. This would give the match significance in terms of title, european qualification and relegation points for the opposition. The second approach would also allow for players in the team to have more time to focus on training, education and less opportunity for player burnout.

    A proposal along the lines of all players that qualify for the age limit and did not take part in at least a specified percentage of league games the previous season would be eligible for selection. 'Part' would have to be defined but something along the lines of at least 20 minutes game time. Other players that are eligible by age but did play a significant part in their club's campaign could be put forward for selection by their parent club. Each club would have to allow a maximum of two players to be selected. The selection would be similar to a one year loan whilst the players would be contracted to the FA. This would give the FA a maximum potential squad size of 40 to select from, although clearly a smaller group would be more sensible to gain the benefits that the team was originally set up for - match time for young English players. Also if a club had say three eligible players that would all make the England side and their clubs were happy for them all to be selected a small payment could be made to the club as a reward for their good academy structure.

    This selection criteria would have benefits to both players and clubs. Clubs would not lose key youngsters as they would not qualify for selection. The clubs would see how their players get on at Premiership level intensity whilst not risking crucial matches and points to do so - currently one reason why teams buy in 'complete' products. For those clubs that are 'selling clubs' it would be an ideal shop window for their players much better that bit part games and reserve league fixtures. The clubs would keep the registration of the players whilst having the player off their books for one year to reduce their wage bill. For the player: Clubs who see potential and wanted to ensure they did not lose the player the following year would be pressed into playing them more so they are not eligible for the criteria the following season. Players selected for 'England' would get regular gametime and if all players were given a basic contract egos and extravagent lifestyles would be held in check to some degree for at least one year. By signing in to the club agreement they would be eligible to play for their country in junior championships. England as a footballing nation would also benefit as the youngsters would build relationships both on and off the field, a sense of national pride and have significant more preparation time before junior championships.

    If the 'England' club were playing week in week out they could have an official sponsor as it would not be contradicting tournament sponsors as is the case with the major championships at the moment. The team would play all matches away so there would be no ground to upkeep. The wages would be of a more sensible level, even 'only' £2000 a week is over 100k a year before tax which I'm pretty sure I would have been able to live off as a teenager! So that would work out as less than 3 million pounds for the whole squads wages for the year.

    Sorry about turning it into another article rather than a mere comment!

  • Comment number 76.

    Apologies if any of this has been mentioned in the 73 previous comments, but it's easy to miss stuff with so many detailed responses.

    I listened to the show the other night but came away disappointed with the general tone of it, with the exception of the comments from Ged Roddy, who I felt was insightful and forward-thinking, and his presence in his new role is a positive step.

    People seem keen to almost force English talent into Premier League line-ups, but I can assure you that it is not the correct path to take. Players should come through organically - if you're forced into playing somebody too early, their development could easily take a hit, and if you're playing players who aren't good enough to meet quotas, the overall standard will decline.

    Many are quick to criticise the system but I question how many have experienced it in any shape or form? I'm fortunate enough to have been a regular watcher of Chelsea's academy over the last 4/5 years, at various levels, and we're a club who have often been criticised for the lack of production into the first team ranks.

    But it's not quite that simple. Like it or not, clubs have a responsibility to themselves first and foremost, and not their national teams. This is the way it should be. The Premier League may not be as productive as many like in progression of youth but it's easy to forget right now that the league is the most-watched and richest in the world for a reason. I'm sure come Christmas, when everybody is firmly entrenched in another pulsating season, nobody will be doubting it quite as much as they are now.

    Therefore, players have to be VERY good to get a look, especially at the top of the game. Leagues like Germany, Holland and France may well have a greater progression rate, but those leagues are some way behind, especially financially, and they have little other choice. At the end of the day, they've won as much as England in the last decade.

    We hear so much about needing grass-roots reform, but with all of the focus on that, people miss an area which is almost as important, and that's what happens at ages 18-22. After graduating from academy football, players enter the 'reserve void', where competition is almost non-existant and many a talent stagnates until they go out on loan, perhaps to a club with a totally different philosophy and style, and may need results at the expense of the players they're working with.

    A very salient quote from Huw Jennings notes that European players make their first team debuts aged 21-22, on average. In England, players are expected to be making an impact at 17-18 in the Carling Cup and if they don't, they're cast aside. This country wants a quick fix, in a 'what have you done for me lately' society, but for all of the expectation on a player as a teenager, there comes so much pressure to achieve.

    Is it a surprise to learn that the Spanish, Dutch, French and German leagues all allow clubs to enter a 'second' team in their league structure? Italy does not, and does not operate a reserve league, and they, like England, appear to struggle with the progression of players into the professional ranks after academy football.

    Yes, there's a coaching issue in terms of pure numbers, and no, not everything is hunky-dory, but there are clubs who are doing very good work at academy level, and there is a lot of good stuff going on. It's easy to forget that England's woes were not simply down to a lack of talent in their squad, but also a lack of tactical nous from their manager in this tournament.

    The most important issue, for me, is to restructure what happens between ages 18-22, get these players playing matches which actually mean something, and ideally in the football league structure, as a B team. Mourinho, Benitez, Ferguson and Wenger seem to think it's a good idea from recent memory, it's the smaller clubs who feel their nose is bent out of shape, questioning 'the very fabric of our game'.

    But they're only too quick to point the finger when England fail again.

  • Comment number 77.

    My grandson is 11. At 8 he went to Spurs and stayed there 2 years but wasn't recalled last autumn because he hadn't grown sufficiently. He has now gone to Stevenage and has just trialled for the Elite squad but wasn't picked. Again, their only interest was in the physically bigger boys. He has more ball skills than anybody else there (he is two footed)and has an excellent football brain but his size is holding him back.

    We really need to rethink this.............

  • Comment number 78.

    in reference to comment 7.

    England as a country needs to be looking after it's young footballers. Sonny Pike is a prime example. Had he carried on playing football i have no doubt he would have ended up playing for holland via residency rather then for england.

    The last I heard Sonny was coaching in Scotland and no doubt terrorising Sunday league defences.

    Should the English FA not be using using someone with Sonny's knowledge of how youth football works and the pressures facing young kids with ability???

  • Comment number 79.

    Villa's own Nathan Delfouneso is a prime example of young English talent that isn't getting a break at senior club level and undeservedly so. Hopefully the new ruling will allow players like Nathan to shine, but unfortunately it doesn’t mean that English players have to play, just be a part of the squad. How though is the German league able to enforce stricter rules that don't contravene EU law? However they've done it, it's clearly benefited them.

  • Comment number 80.

    My Team:

    Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines

    Osman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Arteta, Pienaar

    Cahill, Beckford

    Subs: Billy, Saha, Yakubu, Vaughan, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter


    Turnbull, Ivanovic, Cole, Terry, Carvalho

    Lampard, Essien, Malouda, Mikel

    Sinclair, Sturridge


    Reina, Darby, Johnson, Carragher, Agger

    Cole, Gerrard, Mascherano, Spearing

    Torres, Ngog

    Man Utd:

    Van Der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra

    Giggs, Scholes, Carrick, Gibson, Valencia


    Going forward it has to be everton as the squad most primed for this change. I hope it pans out this way as it would be a great advert for a great club to achieve success by doing things the right way. By making sound investments. By promoting players from further down the ladder, for having a british boss who extoes british virtues and ultimately using the academy for what it was there for, to nurture and promote young talent from the locality

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm glad to see a few of the posters have the same thoughts...

    * Why don't the younger players try to find clubs on the continent therefore learning new skills?
    * Why do these "talented youngsters" not apply themselves to making an impact in the 2nd or 3rd tiers?

    It's all too easy to say that our younger players are not given a chance - the answer is they are given a chance and a choice - the problem is one of education and emulation - they all follow the $$$ and rush out to sign agents who will obviously just think about maximising their %. Why encourage the 18yr old to take a 2 year contract in Germany on 4k per week when they can sit on a 5 yr 8k per week contract and play in Chelsea reserves.

    One obvious answer would be to apply a wage cap on under 21's who feature in less than 25% of games to say 5k per week - all of a sudden we would see our younger players priced closer to lower league and European budgets and then you would have a core U21 group that were playing week in week out at decent levels in England and rest of Europe.

    The FA should also run education classes to try and create more rounded, decent, human beings. If role models for young men,who were probably not the brightest in the first place, are the likes of Drogba, Ronaldo etc then it's no suprise the first focus is on $$$. When 18yr olds are sneering at 300k per year to play football in the south of France then there is definitely an attitude problem.

  • Comment number 82.

    Glad you have chosen this to talk about Dan. We really need to bang the drum louder, and for as long as it takes.

    Can't argue with the thrust of your observations though I think there's still a lot of mist that needs to be removed. For example, was Laurence Wilson one of these boys that looked good at a younger age because he matured earlier than the other boys, exaggerating his prowess only to be found out when they caught up physically? This is a big worry of mine. Are the U17s, U19s and U21s filled with these kinds of players. I don't have confidence in the coaches that they are thinking long term and not short term. Not to say that some of the precocious talents don't go on to be the real thing, but as you point out, it looks like we are squandering a gold mine of smaller, later developing talent to accommodate the tree trunks who stole a march and are only going one way. Downhill. I'm still left with the indelible imprint of a Great Britain football team at the World Student Games here in Japan many years ago. It was Land of the Giants. Before the game they were all proudly swaggering about in their Great Britain track suits but it wasn't long before the hoofball was undone by technical knowhow. Would John Peacock, Noel Blake or Stuart Pearce have identified and nurtured the talents of a Messi, Xavi or Iniesta, let alone included them in their team? Are they playing an agreed co-ordinated footballing philosophy that will aid the older and senior teams? Or are they left to their own devices?! Agree with one of the posters above that the media really should be reporting on their progress more.

    Also agree that there are pitfalls to the quotas system, e.g. will inflate the values of home grown players and see some of them sitting on the bench at the richer clubs. And it's hardly got a mention, so I'll say it again, but English football has always been flooded with foreign players, it's just that now the Irish, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh foreign players have often been repaced by continental ones. But the crux of the problem seems to be club too often comes before country. In countries like Brazil and Japan everything is geared towards the success of the national team. It's scandalous that the egos at the FA, EPL and Football League can be allowed to hijack any attempt to do the same for England. Give us the names of the people who attended the disbanded meetings. The supporters don't deserve them.

    Let's leave it with the final, glowing indictment: the FA only spends 1% of turnover on youth development. Unbelievable!

  • Comment number 83.

    1% Drooper? Is that true?

    How appalling....

  • Comment number 84.

    #83, that's what Dan's blog says mike.

  • Comment number 85.

    The new home grown rule virtually useless. If it does not specify 'must be eligible to paly for England' then it means nothing. Also 8 is too low, it should be 60% of the entire squad as the minimum.
    The source of the problem seems to be the amount of money in the game, i.e. it is too much. We the punters must put some demands on Sky as to how the money is spent and why don't we stop our subscriptions for a year. That will show everyone that we actually hold all the power.

  • Comment number 86.

    #83, 6th paragraph from the bottom.

  • Comment number 87.

    #86 Thanks Drooper.

  • Comment number 88.

    Many things need rectifying:
    - The FA, root and branch review? It needs a total overhaul as it is stale, no good on treating the disease, prevent it!

    - The UK government, selling off inner city and also rural green space for housing. No wonder kids aren't playing, the space is gone! Stop bulding poor quality houses.

    - The UK government has lead the transition from 'winning is best' to 'taking part is what matters'. No thanks, that is rubbish. Fancy taking part in the second world war or fancy winning it? A crude analogy but pertinent. Some people don't like elitism but without it the human race would not be here.

    - Parental pressure and parents screaming on the side of football pitches. Children have to be encouraged and it has to be fun. Demands and results shouldn't matter initially as this should be an instinct within children that develops. This might fly in the face of the point above but that implies it has to be balanced and the transition from fun to results managed carefully.

    - Sky, and the media in general. They blow the PL trumpet far too loud. They do show some lower league and youth level football but rather than show Eng/Hol under 19s there will be 'Golden PL Years' or some falky pre season friendly. Make the kids want to play not just watch. Make them want to be the best

    - Coaching. Who won the Euros and the World Cup? Spain. Who has the most coaches? Spain. Coincidence? I think not. Not only do children need to be encouraged, the abilities of the coaches need to match our aspirations.

    In summary there is more than one reason for failing and for a perfect system and perfect result (i.e. Spain, which has good performers at all sports) they all need to change. The things I mention above are just a few and the arguments and opinions are so vast they transend sport.

  • Comment number 89.

    Also, the further we get Howard Wilkinson away from our youth system the better. The man is a development plague, full of terrible ideas.

  • Comment number 90.

    Great article... you are totally right.
    I am a Chelsea fan and was gutted when we lost Frank Nouble to West Ham, he was one of our academy's best prospects, though i totally understand why he left and in fairness to Zola, he did give him a few games last season.

    Just before Mourinho left, i thought we had turned a corner with regards to our young English players. He was using Scott Sinclair on a regular basis and had given Cup appearances to the likes of Michael Woods, but then it all went quite.
    Ancelotti has hinted that a few of our younger players will be involved in the 1st Team this season, but it seems more likely to be foreign stars such as Borini, Kakuta, van Aanholt, Matic amd Bruma, rather than homegrown talent like Michael Mancienne, Jack Cork, Scott Sinclair, Sam Hutchinson and Josh McEachran (who looked magic against Palace at the weekend).

    I hope i'm wrong, but the future doesnt look bright for the young english premier league stars and our national team.

  • Comment number 91.

    Keegan and Hoddle for all their emotional frailties, would be in a better position to promote how the game should be coached and played from a youth system point of view.

  • Comment number 92.

    Absolute waste of time if Fabregas qualifies as home-grown. What's the point?

  • Comment number 93.

    Can't see why a rule where the teams have to play at least 4 players who can play for the national team shouldn't be brought in. It wouldn't contravene EU law since the clubs can employ who they like but are only constricted to which 11 they play in any given game.

    The whole 8 in a squad of 25 to be "home-grown" is a typical looking-after-their-own-interests initiative agreed by the Premier League in a bid to placate calls for more stringent initiatives. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 94.

    Evil foreigners keeping youngsters out of their rightful place in the Prem...utter nonsense and anyone who thinks it through knows it.
    But it is actually the only solution as it will then be crystal clear what utter mediocrity our youth system is set up to produce.

    What nobody seems prepared to address is the enormous flaw in most youth player selection. The biggest, fastest, most physically advanced for their age are chosen at every step and treated as if they are going to maintain that 30%+ advantage in size and speed all the way through into adulthood and beyond.

    NOT - because if they did they would all end up 8 foot tall and run the 100mtrs in 7 seconds. So all these superstars-to-be at U14,U16 you sometimes read about are mostly those whose bodies are already that of a 20 year old. They disappear to the lower regions of the leagues disillusioned and uninterested because when the other kids catch up physically they suddenly find they are no longer superstars-to-be just an average journeyman player.

    When it gets properly recognised that kids bodies grow at different speeds and not in a linear fashion, and that we need to select for true talent we might get somewhere - but that would take real effort, numbers of properly trained coaches, and about 15 years to pay off.

    Instead we will continue to get instant fix soundbite nonsense that will have the FA eternally spending more than twice as much a year on a manager of mediocrity than we do on training for all of our 30,000 youth coaches in the country.

  • Comment number 95.

    To be honest I am getting a bit fed up listening to this. England still do have some fantastic players and it is not necessarily the youth coaches that coach it out of them.

    Wayne Rooney was a world beater and a natural Libero, go out and play is what he would have been told 20 years ago, now Fergie straightjacketed him into a target man while Ronaldo got the go out and play role. Rooney used to beat two or three playes all the time now this has gone.

    Joe Cole was tipped to one of the best players in a generation and then Mourinho kicked him for not being enough of a team player. The right coach at the right time and he could have been a natural number 10 as well as opposed to a right footed left winger.

    The same idiots on talksport and the bbc complain how can we be like Spain more then say Michael Carrick should not be in the England team as too many of his passes are sideways and he does not tackle or get into the box enough. So Xavi would not get into the England team then either.

    England still have some great players but when is the last time they had a great manager that wants to play the English way.

    Like it or lump it Utd won the European cup in the 90's by upping the tempo with Roy keane kicking everything in the semi and being traditionally English. In teh final they were getting beaten until they put the big man up front and started to lump it.

    McClaren was an average manager, taylor was average, Erikson a farce and Capello has no idea how to play English football and the players no idea how to play Italian football. Bobby Robson bless his heart was average too, read any of the footballers autobiographies around 90 and they changed the team not him. they believed they did well in spite of him.

    Be proud of high pressure football, stop trying to be something you are not and you can go further.

    Oh an one other thing - Lmapard and Gerrard CANNOT play together. Note that Fabregas did not always play for Spain, the best players do not have to start - the best team does!!!

    Oh and something everyone has known for a while, john terry can't turn, Portugal had one of the best defences in th WC. It was Carvalho that was the player NOT Terry.

    This 8 home grown players is a start I supposed but the existing players underachieved and they should have done better.

  • Comment number 96.

    Totally agree CoachJeff - see #77 above.......

  • Comment number 97.

    This is wrong. Home grown rules ruin oppurtunities for players instead of habouring local talent. The great thing about the premier league is it is the most competitive league in the world, meaning great players have to force their way into the squads on merit, not because they are home grown. Its articles like this which will ruin the England squad.
    BEcause we don't have very organised FAs like Germany or Italy( our one is franjly absolute ***t, we have to rely on the high level of competition.

  • Comment number 98.

    i think the most important point - which you did not emphasize enough - is that kids in the UK play in a way which leads to the football we recognize in UK national teams and in the Premiership - with a heavy bias on strength, tackling, heading and speed - its possible that Xavi and Iniesta may never even have made it in Britain!!!
    the kids should be playing on plastic, half size pitches which allow them to pass the ball easily and improve their technique instead of rain soaked swamps - this would reduce emphasis on sliding tackles and the like and reduce reliance on powerful giants with little technique...the refs should be tougher too - I mean, from a British perspective, Howard Webb refereed the game in the usual "get up and get on with it" attitude - however, if this style of play is tolerated in Britain then you will never see Xavi or Iniesta players predominate the British game

  • Comment number 99.

    There are certainly a number of things that can be done to plan for the future England team.
    1. Limit the number of foreign players on the field of any FA cup or League Cup comp.
    2. Limit the number of foreign players at any club in the lower divisions.
    3. Winter break.
    4. Local England academies.
    5. Use the U21's in the eurochamionships.
    6. Move England qulaifier and friendly games around the country at present it alienates a lot of fans by playing at wembley.
    7. Drop FA CUP and LEAGUE CUP in season up to World Cup.
    8. Take the U21's to the european and world cup tournaments and embed them into the main squad.
    9. Nuture lower division English players, invite them into England camps.
    10. Allow England to withdraw a player from club game in run up to important national games.

  • Comment number 100.

    I firmly believe in freedom of movement and no restrictions on players coming from (or going to) other countries to ply their trade.
    In order to provide regular first team football for some of the younger English players though, why doesn't the FA set up a new club team (in Burton perhaps), funded via a levy on all Premier League teams, which is comprised entirely of English talent and starts life in one of the lower leagues. Top flight clubs looking to give their kids some experience of real football could then loan players to ClubEngland for a season or two, while the club could also buy in English players as it starts to generate its own revenue.
    The set up would have the added advantage of developing the understanding between players of a certain age who might go onto represent their country in the coming years. It could also serve as a training ground for future England managers and coaches.
    The EU rules wouldn't matter because it wouldn't be a league stipulation that all the players are English, simply a choice made by the club manager and chairman.


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