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Scudamore jumps to Premier League's defence

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David Bond | 18:55 UK time, Tuesday, 3 August 2010

How much can the Premier League be blamed for England's dismal showing at this summer's World Cup in South Africa?

On the one hand, half of England's top clubs are owned or part owned by foreign businesses or individuals. 58% of the players playing in the competition are from overseas and the demands of the club season - and here we must include the Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup - make it the most punishing of domestic campaigns in the world.

Yet the League would argue they cannot be held responsible for all the problems exposed by the failure of Fabio Capello's side last month. Was it their fault that England's players underperformed in an outdated system and that the Rustenburg camp seemed to be divided? Is it their fault alone that there is a lack of English talent coming through the elite system?

Today Richard Scudamore, the League's chief executive, launched a typically robust defence of his position saying that he shared the pain of England's supporters following the 4-1 defeat by Germany in the second round in Bloemfontein but that the success of the national team was not his priority.

On the face of it that is a statement of fact. But somehow it feels like an admission that nothing is really going to change following South Africa, a confirmation of that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that England's shortcomings will quickly be forgotten once the Premier League circus rolls back into town at the start of August.

That's not to say the League is not trying to do something about the development of young English players. This morning Scudamore and the League's head of youth development Ged Roddy invited journalists to their Gloucester Place headquarters to explain impressive changes to the academy system that were already in the pipeline before a ball was kicked in the World Cup.

Roddy wants to introduce a classification system for Premier League academies based on the quality of coaching, the number of coaching hours offered to youngsters as well as reforming the compensation rules which make buying English youngsters so prohibitive and looking abroad so attractive.

The League says that of the 300 players aged between 16 and 18 on the books of their academies, 245 are English - a sign that the pool of talent which Capello criticised in the run-up to this World Cup could be getting deeper.

And from this season clubs will have to comply with new "home grown" player quotas which limit the number of senior (over the age of 21) foreign players to 17 in a squad of 25. The remaining eight must be "home grown".

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Richard Scudamore insists the Premier League is not to blame for the England team's problems

But the well-known problem with the "home grown" definition is that foreign players can qualify under that rule if they have spent three or more years at an academy before the age of 18. Arsenal, for example, have six "home-grown" players in their quota of eight who would not qualify to play for England - although it must be said the club is unusual.

All of which begs the question; will any of this make the slightest bit of difference?

Scudamore argues strongly that in 10 years' time the effects will be self evident and that while there is no clear mission to develop a stronger England team, it is in the clubs' interests to seek out and develop what he describes as the English gem.

However, the feeling on the ground is very different. At Birmingham City - one of the League's foreign-owned clubs - there is a definite sense that the two objectives of delivering a successful national team and developing young talent for the future of a Premier League club are, to use the words of their own academy manager Terry Westley, "miles apart".

The problem essentially boils down to how many English players are getting their chance to play in the first team and develop their careers. Nothing illustrates this point better than the discrepancy between the 81% of players aged between 16 and 18 in the academy system who are English and the 42% of English players playing first=team senior football.

As I pointed out ad nauseum in the aftermath of England's World Cup failure, it's all a question of priorities. Does English football want the best League in the world or do the national team and World Cups still matter? The two shouldn't cancel each other out but recent evidence suggest the opposite is true.

Perhaps it is simply that the world has moved on and more people care more about their clubs or prefer the regular diet of top-class players offered up week in, week out every season by the Premier and Champions Leagues. And on this I would be really interested to hear your views.

The first test of the public mood comes next Wednesday when Capello's team play Hungary in a friendly at Wembley.

Three days later the Premier League is back. Only once the richest league in football returns will we really be able to judge the extent of England's World Cup hangover - or whether it will simply be big business as usual.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I frankly couldn't give a monkey's about the Premier League and its overpaid cadre of "stars". I watch Match of the Day and the occasional live game, but the League One football I watch week-in, week-out is more real in football terms than anything in the top flight.

    As far as I'm concerned, what happens in the Premier League is an irrelevance to football as it is a meaningless competition, since there are only four or five teams who can win it anyway.

    If England wants to have a successful national side, then it has to provide a clearer path to top-flight football to its youngsters.

  • Comment number 2.

    I do agree sadly that most football fans in truth care more about the welfare of their clubs than the fortunes of the national team. If you do take out all the overseas players that ply for the top 20 clubs in England, you would find that many English qualified footballers have not got the technical or tactical skills to be truly successful at international level.

    The other problem you also have as football these days is result driven, managers are more reluctant to pick untried homegrown players if the futures are dependent on the results of the club they manage.

    For English football, ordinary fans will have to educate on the nature of patience to allow the generation of players to develop as footballers as well as men and not believe winning is not everything in our national game.

  • Comment number 3.

    Last time i checked the team that won world cup for spain had 6 players that plays for barca which won two european cups in last few years. In such spain spends money and is maybe has the best league in the world but are also world and european champs.

  • Comment number 4.

    It speaks for itself that we can barely get a full team of 11 decent players on the pitch, and as soon as there is an injury mass panic ensues. The good old days of having decent deputies for positions is gone, and until the number of foreign players is reduced, we're probably stuck with it.

    Also,the technique of overseas players is not transferring to the English players, which was one of the expected benefits of them joining the Premier League. Our players only look good when they are surrounded by very gifted foreigners. Until the academies start producing talent on a regular basis (and not just buying in youngsters from abroad, which seems ridiculous) then this will probably also continue.

  • Comment number 5.

    England played poorly in the finals, however they dominated their qualifying group with Ukraine and Croatia.If Green had made that mistake and Heskeys chance fell to any other forward against the USA then we would have qualified top of the group and then beat Ghana.(England have never lost to an African team)

    We lost to Germany instead, but if you look at the clear chances we could have won the match. Naive defending by Cole,Terry and Johnson let us down.Germany are ranked above us in the FIFA rankings, so it was not a disaster to lose, it was the manner was disappointing though. We will qualify again for UEFA 2012 competion,and this time please select in inform strikers!.France,Italy and Portugal all performed badly also in the finals.

    We do not have to panic as we are not in the position of a team like Scotland for example who are a shadow of the team they were in in the 90's.

  • Comment number 6.

    The issue of foreign players in the Premier league has been rumbling for years, but I strongly get the impression that this creeping paralysis of the England team has reached the point of no return.

    But first things first. Since England won the World Cup in 1966, they have either not qualified or been knokcked out by the Quarter Finals. Only 1990 and Euro 96 bucked this trend. It could be argued that with far more players to choose from England should have done better, but ultimately ability makes the difference.

    Now though, the pool to choose from is much smaller, about 42%, which has meant that when this group under perform there is no credible back up team. How different do you think the England squad will be for the Hungary game next week, than from the one which went to South Africa? Why did Capello work so hard to persude Jamie Carragher, sucessfully, and Paul Scholes, unsucessfully, to come out of retirement and play for England? Even a blind man can tell you why: because the talent pool is so thread bare!!!

    Additionally, we have always had a number of home nationals playing in the top league from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so with continental and intercontinental players now in such abundance, what chance has a young English player got of coming through?

    To my mind the Premier League is in part to blame for this situation, because the cost of failure is so great that clubs have mortgaged their heritage to remain competitive at any price. Portsmouth going in to liquidation last season may be just the tip of the iceberg. How many more are teetering on the brink of oblivion. Even Man Utd, it seems, are going back to their academy to produce their next crop of stars, because buying instant success, like City and Chelsea are doing, is no longer an option. Interesting, that when Fergie took over at Utd, it was only a few years before the youth policy paid off, with the emergence of Beckham, Scholes, the Neville's and Butt. Equally interesting, is that many young English players are so desperate to play first team football they are prepared to step down a league to get a game. Totally unacceptable.

    The second problem is Europe and the Bosman rule. England is now reeping that decision in spades now. This must be changed, but how? And how many English players play in Europe? I don't know either, but it's not a lot. Well, the politicians are good at talking, so they need to start talking with the EU to sort this. But why should the Europeans take this seriously, since it hardly affects them?

    So do Premier League supporters care? Well, yes! But what can they do? They want their club to do well, win trophies, be in Europe and at the minute, this can only be achieved by spending big on foreign players. So is the answer to take the money out of the game, pay players a lot less and force the foreign players to go elsewhere on purely economic grounds? But of course we would not then have the best league in the world and can our pride and ego handle that?

    Well something must be done, beacuse if we do get the 2018 World Cup, I'll bet my life savings now that we wouldn't get out of the group!!!
    The FA and Premier Leauge need to get their act together now before it's too late!

  • Comment number 7.

    The reason England never perform well in the World Cup (or anything else) is because of a few key reasons:

    a) No Winter Break
    b) Not enough young English players in the top clubs (Tottenham and Aston Villa excluded)
    c) They are either too relaxed (Sven Goran Erricson) or too strict (Fabio Capello)
    d) The premier clubs take part in too many fixtures per season and too many competitions

    If these can be addressed then you may see performances in international stages improving...all with the help of the premiership. Only then do you point the finger at out of form strikers or bad managers or even ownership of clubs.

  • Comment number 8.

    Got my tickets for the England vs Hungary game today and can't wait to cheer the lads on. I believe that the England team is way more important than club football but accept that for the majority of the country this is not the case.

  • Comment number 9.

    The English league has not always been the best in the world (when it had pretty much 100% English players up until 15 years ago), not even nearly, but the National Team has pretty much always underachieved.

    We just need the manager to pick the best team, not the best individuals - England clearly has better players than Uruguay but it isnt a better team!

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with pascalfeindouno.
    We need someone who will pick the best team, not the best players...
    Are we so blind that we see Frank Lampard, surrounded by star names in the chelsea team, frequently underperform for the national team, time and time again??? It's obvious that without that help, that some of the players get at their clubs, they don't seem to play as well. We need players who will give everything... Players like, Nobby Styles, Terry Butcher, Stuart Pearce and even Paul Ince... some of these names you will agree deserve to be there, but all, gave everything for their country... How many of the current crop can you say the same thing about....?

  • Comment number 11.

    Am pleased you really want opinion. In Italy they have become very concerned that the top 4 teams are providing little in the way of new Italian talent. The difference between the EPL and Seria A is that most of the Italian clubs are still owned and managed by Italians. The Italians therefore have a vested interest in the national team the success of which they believe inspires a new generation to try harder to succeed. I suspect that Seria A will take a much more proactive stance to restricting the number of foreign players in the league....they have watched Spain and are looking at following its lead. The problem with the English game is that it will take too long to acknowledge its problems which, to be honest, have been apparent for nearly ten years. The more foreign owners, managers and players, the less incentive to worry about the national team.....until the money's all gone.

  • Comment number 12.

    An important point is that the vast majority of England fans that travel to away games are actually fans of lower league clubs, not the 'Sky Four', who to be fair pay a fortune in ticket prices but the core of England's support basically comes from the smaller towns and cities, who will save up and see that as their major football events, obviously not apparent in League's One and Two, etc.

    How this relates to fans' attitude for those that support Premier League clubs is that the PL fans do care about England's performance but are more likely to be more severe in their assessments than the regular England away traveller, given that the likelihood is that they will only follow England on TV at major tournament time which is traditionally signalled by failure, rather than the successful qualifying campaigns followed by regular travellers who have more realistic views.

    Do you think Rooney will get away with his shouting down the camera antics at West Ham, for example? It won't be Beckham 1999 but they'll still abuse him. By October time though it obviously will have died down.

    Regarding England and the Premier League, bottom line is if they're good enough, they will play. Can't blame 20 different managers and clubs for not picking English players in their teams. They obviously know what the talent pool is like. Quality over quantity (ref. to 245 out of 300)

  • Comment number 13.

    Let's forget all this nonsense to do with 'the best league'. Everyone in England will no doubt think the Premier League is the best league in the world and everyone in Spain will no doubt think it's La Liga - try and be as objective as you can but ultimately we will all favour the league that the team we support plays in/is affected by; it's all in the heart surely. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    I would also like to see the likes of Dawson, Walcott, Milner, Jagielka, Hart, Rodwell, Wilshere, A Young, Agbonlahor, Richards, A Johnson, Delph, and Gibbs (amongst many others) given the chance to actually prove themselves before it's assumed they're not as good as 'the Golden Generation' - who of course achieved nothing. They've barely, or haven't, played at all for England yet and 'we've' already decided they're not good enough.

    I know this doesn't necessarily address why we were abject at the World Cup but lets not forget that it's not particularly easy to win a football game, but it's exceptionally easy to lose one.

    Like many I think that the intrigue in club football has resulted in the national game becoming less significant but we know we're a fickle lot, so every 4 years(or 2 I suppose)despite having not really concentrated on England for a while we expect the miracle.

    I reckon we just be miserable about England until someone eventually has to pick those players mentioned above and my god they actually do well :-)

  • Comment number 14.

    To Pascal..."Up till 15 years ago the English league was nearly 100% English"
    Sorry but if you look at the successful Liverpoool, Forest, Leeds, Arsenal, Everton etc. sides from the 60's till the start of the 90's they were less than 50% English. They were mostly made up of Scots, Irish and Welsh with a few English players. Ipswich started to introduce foreigners with a few Dutchmen and then slowly the other clubs follwed suit. Successful English teams (outside England) never had close to 100% English players which probably explains your point that the English National team hasn't been very good for many years.

  • Comment number 15.

    "but the League One football I watch week-in, week-out is more real in football terms than anything in the top flight"

    If by that you mean untalented guys booting a ball up in the air for 90 mins then good luck to you. The rest of us like to watch something involving skill and technique

  • Comment number 16.

    The French may claim its the Premier League, as so may many others - but frankly thats nonsense.

    The Italians were woeful.
    The French were woeful.
    The English were woeful.

    The Spanish and the Dutch did enough (although were disgusting in the final and deservedly got massive fines for turning the game into a farce - how the Dutch will find 10k is going to be interesting).

    I digress

    The fact is, England had a club coach who had no idea what happens come World Cup time. He also can barely speak English. He also picked the 'best' individuals and couldn't deliver a team. He also chose not to use a squad. He also thought Heskey was good.

    The overpaid players didn't look interested either, but they will all return to their clubs and get worshipped.

    The players are clearly talented - however, we need an international coach who can get it out of them. Not a tactical genius, not some 'amazing' coach with a great CV - not at all - we need an inspiring individual who can remind the overpaid players why they should be playing for England.

    We also need someone with balls - so after 20caps Frank Lampard doesn't automatically think he will get to 50 and not bother trying ever.

    There you go - the solution: A manager who inspires and has a pair.

    We haven't had one of those for a number of years!

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree with the majority of comments regarding the national team. For far too long money has destroyed our game and turned all these players (the list is endless) into selfish, singular, egotistical mercenaries. Spain won the world cup playing as a team. We got humiliated by Germany because they played as a team. The logic is so simple it's almost laughable.

    The time to invest in the future is now. What's happened has happened and we have to move on. Hopefully now, all that waste of money that we call the "premier league" can be put into teaching our kids how to play the damn game. I'll still follow my club team, but the national team must come first or the identity of English football will be lost.

  • Comment number 18.

    For me the problem is less in forcing English clubs to use English players. It's making them want to use English players, because their better then foreign players. We need to build from the bottom, change the priorities taught to kids from ages as young as 8 and above. Speaking as a CB I'm very poor technically. I commit early, I misjudge the ball and I switch off at the vital moment. Yet I still start every game because I'm faster then everyone else. We need to switch the mentality from learning pace and power to learning awareness, positional play and technical skill. This needs to start from the bottom because right now top English clubs are never gonna pick young English players because their just not as good.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have to disagree with some of the points here. Firstly, there should be no winter break. THESE PLAYERS ARE GETTING PAID MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF POUNDS, THE LEAST THEY CAN DO IS PLAY FOOTBALL OVER XMAS. In any case it is a tradition, it is a time of the year that the supporters love and when gates are at their highest. As a matter of interest, did we have a winter break when we won in 1966? Thought not.

    With clubs having such big squads nowadays, is it not plausible that a player can request a rest every now and then, or a manager to spot that a player needs a rest? The player needs to take it upon himself to manage his own body in World Cup year.

    I have to disagree about fixtures as well. True the top clubs have Champion's League, and the so-so clubs Europa League (IMO, these competitions DO have too many fixtures, but that is UEFA's issue - a large money-making scheme). We play as many league games as other top nations (38). We do play FA Cup, and there is an argument that we could do away with replays. But the League Cup? When was the last time Frank Lampard played in this before the Semi-final stage?? There was even a year Arsene Wenger played all his reserves in the final! If you're a really top club, then this isn't an issue.

    However, there is an issue with ridiculous travelling in pre-season, where all these clubs jet off to Australia for marketing (and occasionally, footballing reasons) which is doign players no good at all. In any case, if we do have a winter break, who's to say the clubs won't abuse this 'time-off' to continue this ridiculous charade then?

    There are also undeniably too many foreigners. Spain show that you can still have a great League with lots of home-grown players, and this is where we have gone wrong. Too much money has meant more pressure, and less inclination to blood inexperienced youth, hence them never getting a chance.

    I'm all for having foreigners in the league, but they have got to be there to improve the league. There is absolutely no reason why our clubs should have to employ the likes of Hendry Thomas, Johan Djourou, David N'Gog, Radoslav Kovac etc., these are average foreigners who do not improve the standard of our league. Unfortunately, if we attract the best, then we have to pay them more, players get jealous, and the vicious cycle starts again.

    So basically, we have to pick one or the other. But all the players are interested in is money, which is the factor presenting the most problems as to why players prefer clubs over country in modern times.

  • Comment number 20.

    The truth is that International tootball has a similar status to tennis in the UK. We get interested in it for a couple of weeks a year and expect far too much. The rest of the time it is firmly no. 2 to club football. The result is that our schedule and set-up favours club football - both in the demands put on the players and the lack of focus on developing english talent.

    We should face up to this and either expect less at international level or change our priorities.

  • Comment number 21.

    The lack of winter break is clearly an issue. Somebody produced some stats counting the number of players according to where they play - at the start the Premiership was by far the most represented (160 something or thereabout), but by the end of the knockout stages the numbers fell dramatically, and then again in the latter stages, and in the final there were only a couple. And who were the worst players for Spain? Torres and Fabregas (and that chap that dived to get the Portuguese player sent off).

    In other words: the winter break DOES make a difference.

    And for crying out loud, get rid of that useless League Cup, the players play enough games as it is.

    Also, I can't help noticing that British players in general are thick as planks. Really. Even Balotelli, who's a complete muppett (you'll see when he comes to Man City) has just got qualifications in accounting. Del Piero, Bierhoff, Rummenigge, Kaka (the first names that spring to mind) they all have degrees. Can you imagine Rooney or Beckahm even getting a GCSE? I know it seems petty, but you need some brains and self reliance to progress in those competition.

  • Comment number 22.

    This whole "home grown" quota is a load of bunkum. After all, I believe Cesc Fabregas qualifies as home-grown, despite having just won a medal in South Africa.

    The problem doesnt lie with the Premier League, its with the lower levels of the coaching structure. The statistics about how many coaches that Spain have per person, in comparison with England, are terrifying.

    The national team of England has been coached by a number of people with a very good club pedigree, so you cant suddenly say that they are all to blame. When Steven McClaren was sacked, Brian Barwick promised a "root and branch" review of the national game, and instead we just got a new manager. Now, I would be the first to accept that Capello is an outstanding manager and that we are lucky to have him, but clearly he isnt going to single handedly make the whole national setup turn out players of the quantity and quality of Spain.

    And lets not kid ourselves that we have some of the worlds best players anyway, because I'd struggle to find an England Player that would get into the Spain team. Ashley Cole and Rooney are probably the only ones you could make an argument for, and even Rooney is a stretch on recent form.

  • Comment number 23.

    Does English football want the best League in the world or do the national team and World Cups still matter?
    Well considering that English football doesn't have the best league in the world, and hasn't had it for a very long time (early '80s was the last time) this is a redundant question.

    What the English don't realise is that hitting the ball very high and very hard and running very fast doesn't constitute good football.

    In Germany 2006 the BBC pundits were slating Italy for lacking pace, pretty much the same 'problem' facing Spain in South Africa. Somehow both countries managed to win the world cup using, God forbid, passing of the ball on the ground.

    By all means Premiership, blow even more cash on producing a vastly inferior product to Spain, Germany and Italy, and continue to proclaim your global dominance (despite Italy and Spain having won 4 of the last 5 Champions Leagues.) Just don't expect intelligent fans to hit the pub, drink 10 pints, watch Sky and agree with you.

  • Comment number 24.

    Some interesting comments have been left on here...Are the players more interested in representing their Club rather than playing for their country, yes...Should players be entitled to a break at Xmas, yes as this has proved to be successful with Spain (Euro/ World Cup champions), Yes players get paid a lot of money to play but with players who feature in European competitions this can be tiring with travelling abroad...
    The FA need to bring more quality coaches into the game, ie change the FA level 1 to show coaches how to coach a 7 a side team rather than teaching the coach how to play fun games and put cones down. The FA seriously look at Academy set ups to see why not enough English Players are not coming through the system. Agree with fergie-is-a-genius about teaching players team tactics etc rather than the tyical kick and rush style football...Academies are more intent on results and creating individual players rather than team players. They (academies) look at players from an early age (7) and try to take the best player on the pitch they see who can score goals...they then invite these players to meaningless development centres and the whole attitude of players are wrong as they believe they have made it. Academies think they can pick players from grass root football clubs when ever they want which is incorrect...Euporean players have helped to develop the game and agree that some of the players that have been bought are no better than what we already have...Is the Premnier League to blame? think this is cycle that will continue to go round pointing the finger at someone until grass root football changes...FA need to get in touch with the game!

  • Comment number 25.

    @23 - The Premier League is top of UEFA's coefficient. That's the only objective ranking of Europe's league available. Obviously the club sides aren't doing much wrong.

    On another topic, there is no rational argument for quotas. England are performing as well as they ever have done on the international stage. The fact that we expect more of this current crop is testament to the success of the Premier League. More mediocre Englishmen at the top clubs will benefit nobody.

    If English youngsters can't cut it on a talent basis, then they shouldn't be given a squad place for having the right passport. It's at a much younger level, before the Premier League gets involved, that things are badly out of date.

  • Comment number 26.

    First off the leagues new home grown player rule is likely to increase the vastly inflated prices of enlish players, why? Becasue the little clubs will hold the big clubs over a barrel knowing they need the player to play in the league. That the player will only play a bit part, if at all and will probably have his development halted if not destroyed like many players currenlty floating arround the system ala wright-phillips etc by being bought by a big club and benched.

    Most of the good ideas to sort the problem the league won't do becuase of one reason - Money

    So here's one that wouldn't affect their cash at all

    Make the league cup a cup for teams where EVERY player qualifies for England! Most people see it as a "micky mouse" cup anyway so it can't do any harm! Not only that but it would give the England manager tons of opportunity to look at the best english players taking each other on.

  • Comment number 27.

    You cannot ignore the startling fact that, since the Premier League was introduced, the performance of the national team has got steadily worse.

    I think there are two main issues. Firstly the excessive foreign imports do make it harder for young English players to develop and get game time. Whilst the cream will always rise, I think it does have an adverse effect, although nothing like as bad as papers etc make out.

    The biggest problem, and one that is rooted in the elite of English football is that our league is by far the most strenuous, rigorous and physically demanding.
    We are one of very few national leagues without a winter break.
    We are the only national league which takes its cup competitions as seriously as we do, plus we have two instead of one. And finally of course the vast majority of all our national players play in some European competition.

    Lampard for example is a perennial underachiever for England, (although I thought he was one of few players anywhere near there best in SA, and much better than Gerrard).
    He has consistently played 50 plus games for Chelsea since 2002. No wonder when it comes to Summer he wilts and dies.

    Our national teams "heroes" all play for the top 4 or top 6. They play far too many games, at a tempo and physicality which drains them completely.
    Our League is to blame simply for its nature of being exhausting. It demands so much from our players when Summer comes they have nothing left to give.

    Its not Scudamore's fault, its just the way it is.

  • Comment number 28.

    The interview with Scudamore showed that the FA have no control over football in England and have no ability to make changes that will improve the chances of England to well in international competition. The Premier League and those purchasing television rights are in control.

    Perhaps England could retire from international football to concentrate on club success and extend the career of the Premier League a little further before everyone gets fed up with the circus its become...

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't buy the "too many games in the PL leads to England's international failures" excuse. Surely the 58% of foreign players in the PL are playing the same schedule? And then managing to perform for their respective countries?

  • Comment number 30.

    No 7. Tottenham and Villa?
    That the youth policy at Villa of buy English players at vastly over-rated fees? Can't imagine young lads at Spurs getting much match time especially with them attempting to make the Ch League.

    You forgot Everton too...

    Hibbert,Jagielka,Baines,Rodwell,Osman,Vaughan etc, etc all of whom could do a job in the Prem.

  • Comment number 31.

    Although we have to look perhaps to the structure of the EPL season for some reasons as to why England underperformed so badly, it cannot be overlooked that the main fault lies with the players. Nobody questioned England's talent pool or the rigors of the season during WC qualifying, for example.

    The trouble is that everything England related gets blown massively out of proportion by the press - Rooney has one little argument with a referee during a training game, and suddenly everyones convinced he'll get red carded within 5 minutes of kick off. Similarly although there can be no doubt that English clubs in general (but particularly those at the top end of English football) have a long and hard season due to the amount of competitions they play in, that is no excuse for the players that failed to perform to their usual high standards at the WC.

    What needs to be done is (imho) a gradual merger of our more successful England youth players into the full national team. Hopefully bringing them in steadily will prevent overhyped one hit wonders such as Walcott from distracting us from what is important in the next two years - building a young team that can (hopefully) gain good international experience at the Euros, and then build on that experience to do well in the next WC, and beyond.

  • Comment number 32.


    If you look at Spain's players in the Prem:

    Torres didn't exactly play a blinder did he?

    And Fabregas didn't even start, so we don't know is he was rested enough to last a whole WC campaign effectively

  • Comment number 33.

    Don't worry lads the answer is here

    I believe it is all about the coaching, especially at a young age. We need smaller pitches, smaller goals, less importance placed on results and more emphasis on technical aspects.

    I think that the premiership in particular have focued on big athletic players all grown from a results orientated, give the ball to the biggest boy model.
    I think this also explains the poor performance from African countries and national teams reliant on premiership players. As we simply do not encourage good, technical play.

  • Comment number 34.

    My idea to blood the prospective young talent and to give the existing pool members more playing time together in an England shirt would be to have an england team play each premier league side throughout the season at the premier league club's ground on a fortnightly basis. The England side would not earn points but the club side would, 3 for a win and 1 for a draw.

    Dont laugh too much yet, look at the advantages, a pool of say 44 players available for England, not able to play against their own club, and only to be made available no more than once in a 6 week cycle, no more than one per club side per game.

    The advantages would be experience of top flight football against some of the worlds best players, regular opportunities of playing and practising together, plus the oppoetunity for fans all over the country to see the national side instead of the lucky few who live down south.

    Surely no club manager would balk at this as he would have the services of his player for the other 6 weeks and would benefit from the time the player spends with the national training squad. This could also be integrated with the national and club youth academies to point the way forward for all concerned.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think that it would be unfair to only focus on the premier league here, surely the football league has just as much responsibility to nurture young talent. Its only the opportunities later on that can really be levelled solely at the Premier League, but if all clubs (premier and lower tiers) don't provide the top talent then should we expect premier league clubs to take substandard individuals at inflated prices? I would say no.

    I also disagree that a good domestic league prevents a good national team. Are Spain not world cup holders right now? Isn't their league one of if not the strongest in the world also? I am coming to the belief that the premier league is not the best in the world, but the most entertaining, similar to the Harlem Globetrotters in basketball. It's a fast,energetic, typically higher scoring game than abroad yet low on technical skills and ability... all the attributes that cause us to struggle internationally, but attributes that are very exciting domestically. However this is a generalisation, players who do have those technical skills but also pace and high tempo typically do well in the premier league AND the international stage, Cesc, Andrey and Didier anyone? Those that miss the energy and tempo (Robinho, Veron et al) often don't make it in the premier league but can look amazing abroad.

    Maybe we(the fans) are requesting the very thing that in the long run is actually preventing our players from improving. Either that or start enforcing a compulsory national service abroad... call it an international service 12-24 months in a foreign league, wacky but i doubt it'd hurt.

  • Comment number 36.

    "But somehow it feels like an admission that nothing is really going to change following South Africa, a confirmation of that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that England's shortcomings will quickly be forgotten once the Premier League circus rolls back into town at the start of August."

    Yep, and thats pretty much how I thought it would go, too.

    Not surprised really. Just dissapointed that a man's greed comes before national pride.

    To coin a phrase, in't globalism brilliant! Not.

    I've had a boycot on all things premiership for well over a decade now. Scudamore can remain unchanged in his position, and so can I. Not that I expect it to make a jot of difference, but I cannot willingly put money into this thing knowing what its doing to my national team.

    I will however, refuse to judge those who do. Thats their right, for better or worse.

  • Comment number 37.

    English football is in a sad state, these rules on squad make-up won't change anything.......if we currently have 42% of players in the PL "home grown" how is going to help forcing (?) clubs to have 33% of their squad "home grown" doesn't make sense. If it was 66% then that would be a positive change.

    Same old sound bytes but nothings going to change and by the way, it's not the best league in the may be the most exciting, it may be the most sold and seen around the world and most hyped without a doubt, but that is more for the breakneck speed at which it is played and the drama and comedy of errors that ensue as a result.

    Football is not England's best sport by a long way, barely top 16....keep dreaming of the world cup, I doubt if I'll ever see it and I'm only 37!!!

    Now golf on the other hand has 6 Englishmen and 3 Irishmen in the top 20 in the world....what's the difference, golf is a sport for gentlemen and football is for cheaters. It's in the national character to be honest and this goes against the football ethos.

    Boycott the EPL and plough more time and money into golf, the results will be rewarding.

  • Comment number 38.

    English players are not good enough to win an International tournament.Its just that simple.I read an article recently comparing the English and German national teams at the World Cup.Instead of highlighting the German emphasis on youth the versatility of the German players was touched upon.All we heard from the English players was how they couldn't play in the positions they were asked to play.Any so called world class player should be able to play any where in their position but of course Gerrard couldn't play on the left,he couldnt play with Lampard,Rooney prefered to play in the hole and spent the whole tournament in midfield etc.It was hilarious!The lack of technique on show was appalling.The Algeria match was one of the worst I've seen.
    The sooner the expectation on the English national team goes down the better!

  • Comment number 39.

    Of course the Premier League has had a negative impact on the national team. Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard et al are all made to look far better by the foreign players playing either side of them at their clubs. BTW it has been over 4 years since Rooney scored a goal for England against a country that qualified for the 2010 World Cup Finals. Let's just consider that for a moment. Would any country claim their best player was world class with that poor record?

    BTW, scotitalia, you're wrong about the low percentage of English players in championship winning teams in your list - Arsenal won in 1989 and 1991 with 10 or 11 English players in their first team O'Leary and Limpar being the irregular exceptions. Leeds had two non-English players in 1992. The north west teams always had a high percentage of Scots, Welsh and Irish players but only after the premier league did we see a drop off in home grown players and consequently the performance of the national team never again matched the 1990 world cup - the last tournament before the creation of the premier league. No one's fault or malicious intention but a fact nonetheless.

  • Comment number 40.

    Let's face it, apart from 1990 and (maybe) 1996 England has been exposed at a team with few credentials to sit at the highest football tables. We don't seem to be able to produce players with basic fottball skills or any football intelligence in any sort of numbers. Blaming the PL alone ignores the fact that these problems date back to the 70's.

  • Comment number 41.

    Bottom line: The PL would have tried to take more than it's share of the credit had Club England succeeded at the World Cup. Q.E.D. they are entitled to their share of the blame.

    The essential problem is too many fingers in the pot, and only the fingers of one hand really have the means, financial and otherwise, to do the job right. Let the PL run Club England. If it's the best league in the world, they ought to be able to run one national club successfully...

  • Comment number 42.

    The Carling Cup should be played with under 21 squads. If you keep the European spot on offer for the winner this would hopefully get more lower clubs to improve the standards of the youngsters coming through because of the financial carrot of European football.

    The other thing with Spain and how they have had very good results etc is that clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid have B teams that play in the lower leagues so get first team football action rather than reserve games.

  • Comment number 43.

    If offered a Champions League or a World Cup, i'd choose a Champions League every time.

  • Comment number 44.

    It is hard not to turn this into a massive rant, so I will get straight to the point.

    I think that the squad that went to South Africa were a disgrace. What ever the reason for them under performing, what ever the excuse, it just is not good enough.

    If there was unrest in the camp, then lets face it, that is a poor excuse, either put personal differences aside and play for the good of the nation, or don't go, Wayne Bridge knew he couldn't so he didn't go.

    Maybe our players are not good enough, admitedly this maybe the case, I think players like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard definately profit from playing at clubs that have a team structure that compliments them. However I really don't buy into this, I think now matter how much the team they play for makes them look good, they still must have a certain amount of talent. What I will say to many of the players that did put on the three lions and wont be again, you have missed the opportunity to prove to yourselves, the world and history, that you were/are not world class players, no matter how much money you earn, this wll be something you will take with you to your grave.

    No I think the reason they under performed is simple, not tactics etc, it was fear, the shirt was too heavy. People that give into fear are cowards, in the first world war, cowards that refused to serve their country were shot, luckily for the England team times are not so drastic. Playing for your country should be a honour! I am rubbish at football, but if I was called up, I would give it my best, I am sure that the thousands of England fans would have appreciated the fact that I tried my best I just was not good enough. Not like the cowardly bunch we have playing at the moment.

    I am a football fan, I went to all of Englands home qualifiers and all their home friendly's last year. No more, I love my country, I will not longer watch over paid cowards strut about in their clubs colours, getting heros chats from crowds. I refuse to watch any sort of English football, premier league or national team. No if I watch football it will be the Italian league or the Spainish league, until a new England squad are selected, one that I can be proud of and one that knows and understands and appreciates our country and our history.

    Oh well it turned into a rant after all.

  • Comment number 45.

    hmm..looks like after all Rooney, Lambard, Gerrard, Milner, terry, Cole and Lennon are average players and not world class..if they are then they are playing for premier league club and should have won against any wonder other big boys like Real Mad, Barca, Bayern or not bidding this player...what ever they papers say real/inter is bidding for Gerrard is just hype..and no one will make it first eleven in other league..the reality is, just accept these people are not WORLD class talent..

  • Comment number 46.

    People who think that starving Englands talent of premiership football and preventing them from developing is the reason for Englands poor national side are missing the point, the problems go far deeper than lack of oppurtunity.
    Englands youngsters are simply not as good as foreign youngsters and there path to mediocrity was laid down years ago when, as children and adolescents they didnt learn the tools of the trade as well as their foreign counterparts. Why do premiership teams spend millions shipping in 15-17 year olds??? Because they English lads arent as good, simple.

    First team premiership football would improve them, however, they would not become world class talents, you cant make a silk purse from a sows ear. Quite simply, until British football abandons the win at all costs, physique before skill mentality of youth football then British teams will always be sub standard when it comes to technique, vision and creativity, England have struggled to create chances in open play for over a decade, Mr Beckhams corner and set piece delivery got England out of jail for years and now hes gone the lack of incisive play in final third has been exposed.

    Englands large population has in the past compensated for the ills of the grass roots structure due to the sheer number of people playing football though now the death of street football and the modern obsession with video games and technology has now exposed the failings of the 'noisy parent on the touchline' approach.

  • Comment number 47.

    From 1976 to 1982 English clubs choke full of English players, clubs like Liverpool, Nottenham Forest won the European Cup. We did nought in the World Cup. The problem is mental, a lack of concentration, a lack of intelligence, a lack of desire an unwillingness to become technically better. Playing for England should be the high point of every career, it is not, the players are provencial clods with a island mentality. If they played in Europe or even the US they would mature into well developed players and people.

  • Comment number 48.

    I personally believe that a significant factor inhibiting any English teams' ability stems from the fact that football in this country is typically a working class sport. This may sound odd, and I know the class system in this country is beginning to converge, but just about everyone in the England team is from a working class background. It's not that they aren't technically as good as other classes, it's the old principle that a pool of a range of people gives a much richer mix of talent. Could it be argued that if we encouraged the middle/upper classes into football, instead of encouraging them all to go to Uni etc... then we may be able to form a much richer team that think differently and act together as a unit. We may even become more creative as a team... who knows.

    Just a thought...

  • Comment number 49.

    In response to Joffonon's comment at the very top, I must say, it is completely nonsensical. The fact that you've suggested "only 4 or 5 teams can win it" as a reason that the Premier League is meaningless as a competition is beyond a joke. I think we can safely assume that at the top level of sport, the Arsenal's, Man Utd's and Chelsea's "compete" more intensely than any club/player found at a lower league level, purely because of what is at stake. What's more, at the pinnacle of every sport, you're guaranteed to have an oligopoly of competitors, it's just the nature of top level competition. Look at tennis (Federer, Nadal), look at the NBA (Lakers), look at Formula One. To compare lower league stuff to the Premier League and conclude, that at the top, competition is meaningless is simply delusions of grandeur.

  • Comment number 50.

    One more thing, it's scientifically proven that people with higher IQ's have faster reaction times... maybe that's why some of the smarter individuals that grace other international teams have a greater ability to control a ball, dribble past people, and react to on-field problems more effectively... educate the players!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Good point: the top league in England has always had a fairly high percentage on non-English players. Interesting that English failures in competitions were never blamed on the numbers of Scots, Irish and Welsh players around!

    And its not that English players have necessarily got worse, its that the continentals have got better and developed their passing game. After all which emerging football countries adopt the kick-and-rush of the British game?!

    More and better coaching in Scotland and England is needed. Drop the myopic interest in the development of fitness and in bigger players and concerntrate on skill, technique and playing the ball on the deck.

    British players and coaching

  • Comment number 52.

    The truth of the matter is simple; club/league football is far more popular over all. Yes, England has only gone the distance once, in 1966. But bear in mind, this years World Cup winner was Spain, it's first time as a winner.
    It's unrealistic to expect England to compete successfully every four years in the World Cup; stop wringing your hands over this issue. Club football is far more exciting, with season after season providing thrills for all if its supporters.
    For me, the start of the English club football season is a time of joy; forget the internationals, they're are sometime thing. Give me the Arsenal and it's all of it's rich history.
    At any rate, the whole world is becoming a multi-cultural entity; football embodies this reality of things today. Cheer up, kick-off is less than a fortnight away!

  • Comment number 53.

    I follow England and am more toward my country than my club.

    I don't really care about the clubs of the premier league.

    I prefer to see my fellow countrymen doing well for us all and showing us that we are doing just fine for England.

    I do, however, feel let down but having kept an eye on the NFC I have to say I'm looking forward to the future.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but I think the attitude of quite a few British players has added to the downfall. The players get paid so much at such an early age that they go off the rails and can never reach their potential. Also, I agree with many who've said about British players being technically inferior to their foreign imports. This is all down to grassroots football & poor coaching at this level. However, there just isn't enough incentive to go into coaching football full time, hence the reason why the likes of Spain etc, have so many qualified coaches.

    Really, we need to get these British players to be better players, rather than blame the foreigners.

  • Comment number 55.

    How much can the Premier League be blamed for England's dismal showing at this summer's World Cup in South Africa?
    Quite a bit I would say - who else develops the best young players England has to offer ?
    I agree with some of the views here that a lack of success at the International stage for over 40 years can hardly be blamed solely on an organisation that only came into existence 18 years ago. However , looking back at the formation of the Premier League in the early ninetys, surely this moment was a massive missed opportunity to actualy improve things for our national team rather than keep plodding along with our 'gallant' failures at quarter-finals of major tournaments. How much of the huge revenues going to clubs was spent on the coaching infrastucture at the grass-roots to ensure a constant stream of English talent was coming through the system ? Clearly too little time, thought and investment went into this . OK we got Howard Wilkinson's blueprint for success and the Academy system but these are constantly failing to deliver.
    Although the lack of first-team opportunities for young English players don't help (and I would welcome an agreement to have a minimum number of English players in PL squads rather than just 'home grown' players) the problems run far deeper than this. Most people seem to agree that while our game at youth level promotes the development of strong, quick players there is a fundamental weekness in the technical ability of English players (the World Cup highlighted this) which means that managers at PL teams are continually looking abroad for footballers who do have the technical skills to make up for what our players lack. Something is definitely missing in terms of how kids at the earliest ages are learning the technical aspects of the game and only the Premier League has the rescources to address this. The FA can only offer guidance and an over-arching strategy - ultimately its the clubs who have to deliver on player development.
    Although this article is quite negative, some of what Scudamore says in relation to the England team (rather than his Thathcher-esque devotion to the PL remaining a financial free for all) actually sounds quite encouraging - e.g the bit about ensuring Engalnd can deliver world-class performances at major tournaments is not typical PL talk (although a cynic might say its just good PR) . I suppose time will tell if he's genuine about the PL having a real interest in the national team's fortunes ; one way to ensure it might be for them to run the whole show themselves!

  • Comment number 56.


    Since England going out I must have heard at least 50 times the phrase "Premier League best in the world". Be it on tv, radio and internet blogs like this one. By all sorts of commentators, analysts, players, managers and supporters.

    Either to express confusion why England flopped in comparison to league form, or in the context of too many foreigners making it look good.

    This is the very same logic that says "England are WC contenders and have a great chance" before a major tournament. Automatic unfounded insularity generated by Sky/BBC/tabloids/managers with no reasoning or justification in order to keep the business going.

    But WHO EXACTLY are the players who make the Premier League best in the world?

    In the WC there were 5 teams arguably a class above the rest. Spain Brazil Argentina Netherlands & Germany. You can account for management/teamwork/spirit etc but these teams generally have provenly the best players. If you do the count for the starting 11 you get: England 8 players Spain 15 Germany 15 and Italy 9. England come FOURTH. The 8 players from England are Kuyt RVP Mascherano (leaving?) de Jong Maxi (leaving?) Tevez Torres and Heitinga; hardly the top players in the world in their positions or irreplaceable for their nations.

    One can argue that that the low number for the PL is because England and their PL players did not progress far in the WC, but even if you put them in -which you shouldn't- you get a decent sum but with all due respect most of those English players are 3rd rate compared eg. to the Spanish starting 11 so it doesn't add up.

    Uruguay/Paraguay/Ghana should not be included in the 'world's best' count, but if they do it reads even more favourably for La Liga. Same if Portugal is included who, rather than the above 3 quarterfinalists, is the closest at present to the best 5 because of squad quality/performances and also Fifa ranking. In the high quality & technique Spain-Portugal game TEN of the players were from Real and Barcelona. HALF. United on the other hand fields the likes of Park Valencia Rafael Berbatov and Fletcher.

    People have said that in a world XI there would be no English players. So to take it further go on and make a world XI, how many FOREIGN PREMIER LEAGUE players are in it? The stonewallers not only because of WC but consistent club form would be GK Cesar CB Lucio RB Maicon/Alves LB Lahm MF Robben Sneijder Xavi Iniesta FW Messi Villa. Beyond that for the first or second XI you'd have to include somewhere Pique/Puyol/Samuel maybe Ronaldo/Alonso/Schweinsteiger (who btw was equally terrific in the previous WC) and Higuain/Forlan/Rooney. The only PL players who'd get anywhere near are Cole and Rooney but on the subs XI and very debatable too. On top of that, out of the players very close to this top level who have shone recently for club and country (Fabiano Suarez Ozil etc) none play in the Premier League either.

    The Premier League brand and construction is NOT based on quality foreigners, as has been wrongly suggested, but on the HYPING UP of ENGLISH PLAYERS. We all know who these players are: Terry, Ferdinand, A.Cole, Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney and several others to a lesser extent. The day Capello announced the squad Sky spent all afternoon analysing how exceptional each of these players is, based on Premier League form (?). "We all know what Lennon/Dawson/Milner [add random PL primadonna] can do". Despite the subsequent scapegoating, for those who remember, the same hype was the press's reaction for Walcott chosen for the previous WC. What great future he has (with endless replays of one goal with Southampton) and how he can surprise opponents like Owen had done. In one particular transfer window Arsenal got Arshavin and that was second news, top transfer news was ROBBIE KEANE. Same with Everton getting Heitinga, almost a non-story.

    The hyping up of half-decent English players is made because these are rare amidst all the foreigners, and in order to keep some 'local' identity for supporters to identify with eg. Stevie G and JT 'local lads' heart on sleeve kissing the badge and selling shirts. Due to this contempt for anything foreign, unheard of anywhere abroad bar maybe the US, and the 24h news coverage, English fans tend to know much more about awful Championship or League 1 players and managers than world class players of other leagues and nations. There is the unique situation of an average PL home game eg vs Blackburn having higher ticket demand and pricing than a Champions League group match, which is quite astonishing and shows how much fans are part of this. History shows it is more of a cultural insluarity and ethnic arrogance thing rather than buying into modern media hype.

    But the truth is that the players hyped up as best in the world in the PL are being found out in every major tournament against international opposition. The best players in the PL recently have been Rooney/Fabregas/Torres/Drogba/Anelka/Evra/Vidic, and they have all FLOPPED BIG TIME in recent major tournaments. The fact that they are tired is the biggest fairytale ever, as for instance this year they hardly played in the Carling Cup and they got knocked out early in the CL, so they actually played LESS amount of games than most standout WC performers such as FORLAN. So from the above list: Fabregas/Silva are bench-warmers. Torres has been in Villa's shadow for ages, ask any Spanish follower (even before injury). Drogba is considered worse than Gervinho. Anelka top scorer in the PL can't get a goal. Evra gets overtaken by nippy Mexicans like a statue. Vidic loses headers to 5-foot Ghaneans and gives away the silliest penalty ever. Rooney is shown up by the likes of Mueller and Higuain. This is for no other reason but due to:

    1.the opposition level of the PL being TOO EASY. Rubbish teams all around the likes of Hull Wigan Blackburn etc. So Gerrard scores against Hull and McNulty says he is the best CM in the world, Ledley King makes a tackle vs Burnley and Jonathan Pearce is in awe and concludes he is world beater (they actually said those). Any failings are brushed under the carpet as they'd spoil the veil of brilliance. Below the top 2-3 Everton/Villa/Tottenham have zero world class players and always get outclassed by half-decent European sides. Everton lost 7-0 to Benfica and also to Sporting who were poor this season, same story with Liverpool and Atletico who were poor as well. In the pre-season for all it's worth the trend continues with Tottenham & Villa receiving 4 each, City 3, and Liverpool losing to low-table German teams. style of play completely OUT OF TOUCH with the rest of the world. Therefore the physical bullies and butchers the Drogbas and Terrys of this world can shine whilst the technical Robinhos and Forlans are considered lightweight flops, as their skills are suppressed and they can't keep their head up long enough to follow the consistent hoofing or free kicks lobbed into the box from the centre line.

    To take it further based on results and rankings. England dominated the Uefa rankings for ONE SEASON (the all-English final one). Which was also aided by some very dubious pro-English refereeing for those who remember such things. This is exactly when the debt combined with complacency kicked in and the transfer taps shut. Some could argue that the national team has suffered due to this lower standard of club competition. Other than Robinho to City, Torres/Tevez/Mascherano were the last big imports to the PL 3 YEARS AGO. As a result the following season England were slightly ahead too in the ranking but Barcelona wiped the floor. This year which is present tense the rankings were topped by the Bundesliga with Spain & England joint 2nd-3rd.

    HOWEVER this has been with England enjoying the exclusive no.1 seeding in the CL groups every year as the top 4 are always the same. Due to more competitive leagues and different qualifying teams every year, Spain only have two no.1 seeds Germany only 1, and they still matched England -with the same opponents they'd surely be some way ahead. Also this year's ranking was largely due to Fulham's fortuitous progress in the Europa, as for those who watched the games they were 2nd best in most ties and were nearly knocked out in the preliminary round.


    In Spain especially after the England stars' recent individual performances they'll be laughing at these claims.

    The consensus from neutral press abroad is that La Liga is now miles ahead, and the PL has dropped slightly behind the Bundesliga. Facts supporting this are the ranking see above, and also that the Germany-England game featured a 50% sample of the best home-based players from each league and we all saw the result.

    Premier league by and large equals players whose price wages reputation and adulation by media/fans is roughly THREE TIMES what these would be anywhere else for the same standard of performance. Lescott Barry Milner and Glen Johnson are great examples particularly for price. For that reason, scouts abroad usually have almost no time for English players so these move from one PL club to another, stay in their comfort zone and keep getting worshipped and paid a fortune. When Milner Joe Cole and Torres are THE BIG NEWS in the summer window you know the league is in big trouble.

    Admittedly the English leagues field an impressive sum of WC players which indicates a good depth of talent, but most are 3rd tier CHEAP imports from USA Nigeria Equador Honduras Australia NZ in lower leagues etc. Hardly any genuine top class players, the ones who set the standard. The very best players in everyone's book, objectively (Fifa, tournament & world media rankings) and subjectively (what we see with our eyes and I don't mean on SSN and MOTD), are in Spain. Whoever even questions this is in dreamland. Some way behind Spain come England Germany and Italy in no particular order. Possibly with England slightly ahead but very debatable and changeable, as Germany with inferior CL seeding topped the Uefa rankings and thrashed England in the WC both with a sample of 100% home-based players; and Italy won the CL, the previous WC -again with home-based players- and overall won the head-to-head with English clubs this season. The Marketing/Commercial department for the Premier League won a Queen's award recently, precisely for making a product so average in quality look so great and selling it at such a ridiculous price.

    The head and shoulders top 2 clubs in the Premier League have collectively ZERO players who started in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The 3rd and 4th have ONE player. This is a sorry situation for their fans and borderline embarrassing for the league itself.

    As Benitez once said, I am talking about FACTS.

  • Comment number 57.

    then why didn't England win anything 30 years ago when the league was full of talented English players?

  • Comment number 58.

    This issue has intrigued me for a long time. I am dutch and have been living in Britain for the last 15 years. This has allowed me to compare how things are done on the continent as you brits put it so eloquently and the british isles. One of the things I have noticed is that the season is packed with a lot of matches (one league and two cup competitions). It is my view that the lack of a winter break is the main cause of underperforming during the world cup. I have followed some discussions by pundits at the BBC and ITV about the usefulness of the winterbreak. A lot of the comments seemed to be related to it's winter and we always play on anyway. One of the features of the winter break is that it gives the players a mental rest from playing two and sometimes three matches a week. Especially the top teams that perform consistently on a high level need a break. Have you ever wondered why there are more injuries in the premier league than in other competitions towards the end of the season? It is my view that this is because there been no let off for the players and recuperate from the first half of the season. I also understand that there are certain traditions that should remain in place, such as playing over the winter holiday season and the cup games in the first weekend in january. but after that time there is a perfect opportunity to put in a break for two or three weeks. This would improve things for the england team when competing at major tournaments. The players would be fresher than they are now and mentally tougher to deal with the challenges put in front of them.

  • Comment number 59.

    I don't know why this anti foreign thing has come up in the english press all of a sudden - weren't a lot of the best players in england, even in the pre-premierleague leagues years, foreign, i.e. Best, Law, Hanson, Rush, Bremner, Giles, Cantona, Dagleish, Sheedy, Sharp, Grey, Hughes, Whiteside, Lawrenson(ok he's English but we claimed him first!!), Ardiles, Villa, Muhren, Molby, O'Leary, Brady, Stapleton - remember the Liverpool team that won the 1986 FA cup didn't have one English player in the starting 11 - my point is that England never had great players but, whereas before the league was made better by players from the 'British Isles' that made it better, even in the glory years when English teams won 6 European Cups out of 7, it was acceptable cause all these players were from the same little area whereas now the game has gone global and so clubs have reacted to that and spread their nets wider but it's no different to what the big clubs were doing 10, 20 and 30 years ago in an attempt to find better players (I realise as an Irishman I've name a lot of Irish players in that list but there is an equal amount of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish players who I could've mentioned and me point is that most of the top English teams only ever had at most 5 or 6 English players in their first team and most of them were of top quality - check the England squad for Euro 92 as a perfect example!!)

  • Comment number 60.

    To all you people moaning(including Cappello who has also whinged about this subject)about this so called winter break. This will not make a spot of difference about the England national team. The players who England had at the world cup was just not good enough to compete at international level. I have been judging Englands poor performances since the 2004 Euro's. They have underacheived and won nothing as a team. The likes of Rooney,Lampard,Terry,Becham etc.. have been together for at least 6 years and this team have always failed. All talk yak yak, we will win the WC/our focus is to win i hear the players cry. England always struggle with their wooden football especially when they come up againts a side who can play at least decent football. People claim if England had topped their group this year then would have beaten Ghana in the last 16. Then possibly played and then beaten Uraguay. I say absolute rubbish! Who's to say England would have beaten Ghana in the first place? Give Ghana credit they had played better football than England in the WC. We as a nation keep yarning on about 66' blah blah.. 44 years ago now. I may be very critical and apoligise for any offence. But lets be realistic. Is a winter break going to make a difference? I dont so it's just another excuse to take the blame from the players. It's all down to the players attitudes of repesenting their country. p.s I have had a bad day at work by the way. I think i go to my luxery holiday home abroad now and get away from it all.

  • Comment number 61.

    Someone may have pointed this out already, but Barcelona seem to do Ok with a squad made up of largely Spanish players. Valdez, Pique, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Suarez and Pedro are all genuinely home grown academy products, and then of course there's Bojan and Messi, too, who've both been at the club since they were kids. They may well be the exception in modern day football, but seven trophies in two seasons and four consecutive wins against their biggest rivals proves that with the right set up and a good manager, the academy system can still generate players that can compete at the very highest level. Man Utd probably came the closest of any team in the Premier League to making it work in England (although Everton's youth system has also been quite prolific since the emergence of Rooney), but since their golden generation of the mid 90s virtually no-one from Carrington has been given a decent chance to prove themselves in the first team on a regular basis. Why would Man Utd choose to abandon such a successful set-up in favour of buying in star players if the evolving demands of the Premier League was not at least a contributary factor?

    The ever increasing financial rewards for success, and the ever greater penalties for failure, are poisoning the game. Wealthy chairmen have to pour huge sums into their club just to stand still, and understandably want to see some sort of return on their outlay. As a result, coaches are so scared for their jobs that they are almost encouraged to become tactically limited (less win-or-die, more lose-and-die), and this is transmitted all the way down through the club. Added to this, we as fans often want to see instant success, which means managers are even more reluctant to risk playing an untried youngster in favour of an experienced old pro. Is it really any wonder, then, that with a lack of first team opportunities and a coaching setup that does not place sufficient emphasis on skill and confidence on the ball, that the number of home grown English players we get to see in the Premier League decreases every year?

    (By way of comparison, every one of the twelve teams in the Barcelona academy is encouraged to play free-flowing, attacking football, with the emphasis on developing touch, skill and technique from the minute they first walk through the door of La Masia aged 7. What's more, because the Barcelona first team has played almost exclusively 4-3-3 since the days of Cruyff, the youth teams play almost exclusively 4-3-3, too. You can just see that happening at a Premier League club, can't you?)

    Despite these significant obstacles, however, there are still good players coming through (though a lot less than there should be). It's therefore all the more frustrating to watch the national side, who've proved themselves consistent underperformers for years, constantly made up of the same faces and playing the same one-paced, one-dimensional football every game. You need only look at Germany's performances in SA to see what can be achieved by picking players on form regardless of their age or experience (Neuer only had five caps before the WC, Badstuber just one and Müller - the best young player in the tournament and winner of the Golden Boot - two), yet Don Fabio somehow managed to confuse Heskey with a goal scorer and both Gerrard and SWP as left wingers whilst leaving Adam Johnson and "24-goal" Darren Bent at home. Way to earn your £6M a year, Mr C!

    The pressures of the Premier League might well be one of the reasons England don't have as big a pool of players to choose from as one might expect, but the individual clubs, managers, chairmen and coaches must take some of the blame for allowing Murdoch's millions to turn their heads towards foreign mercenaries and away from developing the talent that exists in the UK, a situation us fans are often guilty of encouraging. However, until the manager of the national team is actually prepared to play anyone that isn't already an established international, none of this actually matters and England fans will, I suspect, have to make friends with disappointment for a while yet.

  • Comment number 62.

    Here is a good idea to improve English team - FA funding part of player salary who goes and play in Italy, Spain, Germany and France.May be 10 % will do and encourage managers to loan players to clubs in European countries.
    How it will help - well English players will get out of their bubble and learn how to trap the ball and where to position themselves regarding moving ball.
    This home grown quota is absolute non sense - Milner for 30 million pounds and Ozil for 15. Ever wondered how a 10 percent of a player can be rated twice more.... of course quota. I learned in my business classes that quotas and reservations encourage inefficiencies. So don't blame me in 10 years - I told you here first.

  • Comment number 63.

    Forget who plays in the Premier League, foreign or otherwise, and this nonsense of winter breaks, too many fixtures etc. If England want a successful national side they must physically change the style that the game is played in the Premier League.

    In an interview with Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Loew, they stated how German football was in a similar position about 6 years ago, and they approached the Bundasliga board and the power brokers of German football with an idea of how they'd like German football to be played (for all teams, not just the top ones) with one eye firmly fixed on benefitting the national side.

    This vision was initally met with disapproval and rubbished in some corners but by standing firm and with the full backing of the Bundasliga, is now starting to bear fruit, with the German league, its players, and its fans all now fully expectant of what both their club and national sides can/will deliver. And they will only continue to get better with time. This is also helped by the fact that the style they've selected to identify themselves with is a free flowing, counter attacking way of playing football that delivers value and satisfaction, a stark contrast to how German football was previously perceived (robotic, methodical, presice).

    Compare this with the English national side and their style is determined by who they play. Eg, if they play a so-called minnow, England will attack with wing play, or opt for a possession based game, whereas when the time comes to play a more adept opponent, a counter-attack or long ball style is often used. This gives the team (no matter who is selected for England) no continuity or sense of confidence as its a reactive approach to the game. Again, compare this to Germany (or Spain, Holland, Argentina) and they each have a defined style or blue print for the way they want to play the game no matter who the opponent, and only change to "plan B" during the game if this style isn't working, not deciding before kick off.

    But try getting the money-driven, spineless FA to (A) select the correct manager and (B) give him unconditional backing to achieve the same success the German national side have and will now continue to enjoy.

    Until this happens the England national side will always be a reactive side with outcomes of the important matches decided by the opponents performance rather than their own.

  • Comment number 64.

    Sorry for the Length of the Post, Please be patient

    There is an awful lot wrong with English Football and there is no quick remedy to rectify this matter, but the Premier League is not the root of the problem.

    Starting at the bottom, our kids are not taught to play quick accurate passing football like Spain, Italy, Argentina and Brazil to name a few.

    -If we look at Spain they have the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas (true he was trained in England from a young age, but by Wenger, who sets his team up like a Spanish side to pass teams to death) who in our England team can compare to these three in the middle. The honest answer is we lack this type of player completely, there is no one in England current team or crop of youngsters who has been trained to play this way.

    True we have good passers of the ball such as Lampard and Gerrard however they are used in the premiership to make 40 to 60 yard passes finding a pacy forward or winger, whereas when it comes down to intricate little passes under pressure they seriously lack the qualities of Spain, whom also have these players such as Alonso.

    -Naturally we produce good young players but it's how these players are trained that affects whether they will become the best players in the world. Having solid physical attributes at a young age is only half the battle, teaching these players the mental attributes like tactics, movement, positioning as well as technical abilities such as passing, ball control, tackling and shooting is the only way these kids will grow into the best players in the World and thus deliver a national team that we can be proud of.

    Thus education becomes key, I heard a rumour that in the 1998 World cup one of the French players had more equivalent G.C.S.E's than the ENTIRE english team. Not sure how true this is but there is definetly some truth behind it. Rooney is a prime example, he was not at home doing homework when he was younger he was out playing football with his mates, this is where he learned part of his game. In contrast in France the best of the french youngsters are taken to their academy where they are not only taught to be footballers but educated people capable of understanding more complex ideas, such as TEAMWORK, which seems something that the current England players are incapable of.

    Spain and Germany amongst others also spends alot of time and money educating their players not only to be footballers but MEN capable of handling pressure situations like penalty shootouts.

    The standard of coaching and coach to player ratio also needs to be vastly improved in our country for our youngsters to be able to progress to be the best.

    -Greece managed to win a European Championship, this was not because of the quality of his players or the education level of their players but off the back of a manager who told his players exactly what they needed to do to play as a team, and because there are no big names or egos, these players did what their coach demanded and they gained success.

    In contrast there are far too many players in the England camp that have massive egos and think they are bigger than the team. Prime example is Gerrard, he should be honoured to be allowed to put the England shirt on, there are at least 60 million people which would love to be able to walk out onto the field to represent England, however he is so arrogant as to complain about playing on the left wing. True it is not his usual position and i don't feel he will ever be as effective on the wing for England as he is in the middle for Liverpool. Gerrard should have given 100 percent wherever the manager decides to play him, he is just a player and should do his job to the best of his ability. Sorry to have such a go at Gerrard there are other players who also vastly underperformed also.

    This problem i feel is created by the Media, who hype up our players telling them how good they are and how needed they are. Rooney is a prime example, the media constantly tells us how we have no chance without him, in fact he played well below his standard he shows at Man Utd and having played 8 world cup games and never scoring a goal how can we see him as an idol, or even worse our saviour? I do feel he has a part to play but our chances should never depend on ONE player.

    -We cannot blame our top teams for trying to get the best player at their clubs, isn't that what all teams are trying to do? One problem is that buying a young english player does not generate the same media hype as signing a young foreigner, another problem is the ruling on becoming an english citizen. Other European countries state that 2-3 years grants that young foreign footballer the right to play for their host nation, whereas in England its is 5 years. Thus if we look at the Germany side that knocked us out they had a few Polish players like podolski and Boateng a Ghanian born player e.t.c. If we reverted to a European ruling on this matter then maybe we could steal star players from other countries and do alot better.

    THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT US TO DO! I feel this is wrong personally and degrades the acheivements of Germany but if its success you want for your national team it could provide the answer we may have been able to steal Ronaldo, and Fabregas and have them playing for England, though there would be no guarantee we would do any better looking at their performances. I feel that only players born in a country or with heritage to that country should be allowed to play for that country and as such this ruling needs to be abolished. This would also stop the top clubs from buying youngsters and sending them on loan to clubs in Belgium to get citizenship so that they can play for their English parent clubs sooner which would give English players more of a chance

    -Another major factor is that the all PL teams are under pressure to perform, thus they do not take as many risks playing youngsters thus these youngsters are loaned out so that they receive regular footballer, a sensible idea yet totally flawed. when we send these players to Championship clubs they are expected to drastically improve these teams which adds alot of pressure onto their shoulders (which as spoken about earlier many lack the mental skills to deal with, especially if all does not go well) and the standard of football they are playing is not as high (No offence meant, as teams can play good football, but the quality of players should be and is lower in a lower league). Thus these young players do not get the experience of playing in the Champions League, or PL at an early age, in contrast young players from other nations are bought in and are used instead meaning that Ronaldo and Fabregas both got Champions League experience at English clubs but only Hargreaves comes to mind when thinking of an English player gaining the same experience abroad.

    English players are not desired by European clubs, whether its the skill level, education level or the egos of our players they are not attracting foreign clubs.

    -The PL is one of the best leagues in the world without doubt, we wouldn't attract high quality players from all corners of the world if it wasn't and most footballing countries would agree. It also is a great motivation for all young footballers within our country. This doesn't mean that there aren't problems.
    I feel that the percentage of English players is too low (compare us to Italy they have 66% home grown we only have 42%) but the quality is simply not there at the moment. We therefore are going to have to wait for the quality to improve and this could take at least 10 years, if all the right prctices were put into place immidiately, if not it will be alot longer.
    The number of games that the PL teams plays is too high, I would say stop them playing in the League Cup, only allowing teams in the Championship and below to play, however this would devalue the cup and it would not get the television money without the big teams playing in it. So the most obvious thing to do is at least get rid of FA cup replays, though this is only the odd game for each team and doesn't really have a major impact on total game numbers.

    In conclusion the root to the problem has been a lack of investment in our young players mixed with a belief that its a quiker route to success to buy in foreigners and the increased power of the Media upon the minds and beliefs of both players and supporters. The PL is just a result of these failings not the cause of them.

  • Comment number 65.

    No new surprises here - another failed World Cup venture, the talk of what went wrong for England, too many foreign players.

    When will we finally send a UK side to the World Cup - that is, everyone with a UK passport. Probably around the same time that the Germans decide that it is a great idea to send a side from Bavaria, a side from Saxony - i.e. never!

    The other countries must be laughing when we have players of such quality like Ryan Giggs who is British but never went to the World Cup. Even if you are staunch Scots or Welsh wouldn't you rather be cheering for a side that is competing in the World Cup semi-final or final with your fellow country men?

    It is very apparent that the various Football Associations are remarkably quiet at present, wanting to take to blame for our country's failure to succeed yet again. Until they do, don't lay the blame at the Premier League who are at least doing the job they are supposed to do.

  • Comment number 66.

    'Homegrown' is this going to solve Englands woes? Maybe until the next world cup in Brazil. What will happen now is that clubs will buy young players from ovaseas and develop them. Why not put their foot down and say English born players with a quota of at least 4 players in each starting line up. This should be the English league not the foreigners league. So yes as good as it is to watch world class players week in and week out they need 2asks these tough questions. League or the national team? Foreign players are meant to have helped develop the graduates who makes the first team, but sadly money as become the order of the day! until they change 'homegrown' to english will england stand a chance in recent times of finaly winning Germany in a world cup.

  • Comment number 67.

    The Premiership is a world league that happens to play in England. The English supply the crowds, and the world supplies the players. True, the English also provide a few players to keep the local crowds happy, and because any country (including England) has some players good enough to play in a global league.

    Honestly, the top English league is the Championship. Capello might have better luck picking his English team mostly from the Championship, with a couple of Premiership players, and moulding them into a team that plays like a team.

    On a different note, England players might want to consider playing outside England more often, and not just because it'll broaden their minds.

  • Comment number 68.

    The English Premier League had no part in England's World Cup failure.
    Firstly, many of the worlds top players play in England and most of those were at S Africa and some did well some did not, how could that be connected to the EPL?

    Press and public are still looking for a scapegoat, the reasons why Engalnd underperformed have been cross-analyzed ad infinitum ( ad nauseum!).

    It's more about team spirit. Individual clubs that have it do well, If you dont have it you fail, no matter how talented the players are.
    If anything Capello can learn how managers i the EPL motivate their teams, that is the key.

  • Comment number 69.

    "but the League One football I watch week-in, week-out is more real in football terms than anything in the top flight" Joffonon posted.

    If by that you mean untalented guys booting a ball up in the air for 90 mins then good luck to you. The rest of us like to watch something involving skill and technique Ichi_1 replied.

    Ichi_1 - Sorry, but you are being totally narrow minded. ( think we did a lot of that, booting the ball in the air, in the WC didn't we, using Premier League players ?)
    I support a team in the Championship and, until very recently ( relocated to Singapore)watched almost every home game and some away, for several seasons.
    If I understand JOFFONON correctly, we who support lower league teams can identify with our players a little more. They are almost all less well paid than the EPL stars and are more often than not, mainly British(it is not just the England team suffering, Scotland, Wales,NI and Ireland, although unlucky in the playoffs, as well).
    Possibly local lads or at the very least, good hard working, 100% professional sportsmen, who mostly appreciate that earning anything over 1k a week is a great living, doing something they enjoy and love !
    Which, although I digress a little, will be my point on this blog.
    As for "untalented", well, that's a very stupid comment. Maybe less talented would have been more appropiate !
    However, Ichi_1 aside, (who is obviously one of the many EPL snobs around)most of the comments I have enjoyed and have given us all food for thought.
    My comment, as previously eluded to is, I just never got the feeling during any of the WC games that they were enjoying themselves.
    I also get that sense too, when I watch some EPL games I get over here.
    No enjoyment, no fun anymore. Lots of badge kissing and my pet hate, during the World Cup especially, players making the sign of the cross, when they score, arrive or leave the pitch.
    Without getting into a religious debate, but that seems blasphemous to me.
    Asking God for help and then cheating, lying and faking so that you win, with Gods help ? surely not !
    Anyway, our players, in my opinion have lost the joy of the game.
    The EPL is an overblown monster, chasing Money for money's sake and only delivering a poor product.
    Where's the fun ? Too much money splashed around to enjoy how you make your living ?
    In my opinion it will only change once we start to see the money leave us. We rely on and kowtow too much to Sky and other media outlets.
    The EPL is not a great product in my opinion but if we are to have even a half decent national side, that at least will give us something to cheer, then our young players should be cutting their teeth in our highest division
    So, my thoughts in conclusion and agreeing with several of my "commentators" -:
    The FA has to re-take control of the game, from the EPL down to schools.
    get rid of 11 a-side games until age 13.
    restrict game time of these young people until 17/18 (keeps injuries to a minimum whilst they are still growing. I realise there are exceptions, Duncan Edwards, Pele, Rooney etc etc)
    Invest more money in coaches, who can then push forward the proper ideas in the Academies.
    Get rid of the Carling Cup.
    2 week break from mid January.


  • Comment number 70.

    Scudamore's "the national team is not our priority" is the problem.

    Some of us may get excited about the top four winning yet again, but many of us watch hoping they get beat to give the rest a chance. That is why the Premier league is a failure; its only priority is one that is doomed to fail in the longer term.

    Why do we get romantic about the FA cup? Because it levels the playing field, the way football was designed to be enjoyed. And without a National side generating true aspiration at the cutting edge the Premier league is simply a percentage league, a business model replicating the high street store where you can buy any brand as long as it is 'brand x' or 'brand y'. Choice is not what it is about.

    Do so called top players always deliver? No, they are, with rare exceptions, mediocrity that bursts into 'genius' just once in a while. It all goes back to 'who wants it most?' and the players who take the field believing they can 'win'. A level playing field makes anything possible.

    We lost in South Africa because our players have forgotten what a level playing field is.

  • Comment number 71.

    first major factor is desire, most of the senior players don want or care to play for England. when these players pull a shirtvon for their country it means nothing. compare it to all the other nations except France, our players could take it or leave it. It's a career notch and nothing more, summed up by players who "retire" from international football, your country picks u. it shows the mindset in this country.

    Our media can take some blame too. they seem to love bad news, exploit failure, create controvesy out of nothin just to shift headlines.

    Spain have a huge amount of foreign players in their leagues, naturalised Spainairds handed citizenship after a couple of years but who are never going to play for spain, conveniently ignored as Spain have been so sucesfull

    there is and has been a huge lack of confidence from any England team I can remember.
    we have the talent. no question, we have a large number of players at the top level, the increase in foreigners should have much of qn effect on this generation of players. the cream is all that's required, an increase in domestic player % will not mean a. increase in better players, it will just lead to more mediocre players who are no way good enough for int. level

    it's our coaching AND lack of football facilities, think of where your nearest football pitch is and do kids have free round the clock, so few and far between.

  • Comment number 72.

    If the PL is not giving young English talent enough playing time, or signing them at all, then there are two things that can be done.

    1. Lower the standard of the PL to thier (youngsers level) by makeing it more exclusive in favour of English players, or

    2. Go to the lower leagues and pick your national side.

    The two approaches are equivalent with respect to the quality of the England side. The first destroys what has been painfully built over the years and is the pride of football around the world though.

    Here are some stats that nobody will want to read. What have the 42% English players who play in the EPL done for thier national side? There is no doubt that many who fall into this 42% group are in the EPL to make up the numbers. I would say that the bottom 30% of PL players, in terms of ability, performance and skill, are predominantly English. Flooding the PL with another 30% English players, who are even poorer than the bottom third, will do wonders for the England side? This logic simply escapes me.
    The England side's problems have little to do with the PL. You can get the PL made up of 90% players who dont have a decent first touch and still do poorly in international matches, believe me. Football is not taught properly in England. That is the simple reason. Unfortunately.

  • Comment number 73.

    after reading about 60 responses to this blog the general consensus is that a winter break is needed, less foreign players, fundamental changes at grass roots, and a reality check from the press. I seriously doubt any other nation that has failed in south africa (and there have been many) will think that these were all problems they have to deal with, with exception to France who could find thousands more no doubt. Brazil, Argentina and Holland had a small percentage of domestic players in Africa but their standards of coaching at grass roots is unbelievable, and that is the only concern the FA should be caring about for the next 20 years at least.

    The FA can find any manager in the world, and still not get anything out of these players, because there will never be any unity between them in the short term. When the scandals hit the press about the terry's, rooney's, etc their clubs close ranks, become a unit and fight for each other. One game into the world cup and the blame game is a part of all press conferences from that moment on. The media has made sure that every major tournament needs a scapegoat in the demise... waddle, southgate, beckham, p. neville, seaman etc to the point where you really get the impression each player would rather not be the one to make an error than step up their game and be a hero.

    Winter breaks will never happen, no point debating it. We are far too steeped in tradition and the premier league knows how much money they would loose if they tried, never mind how quickly all the teams would be off to australia/america/asia to sell their brand if a break did occur.

    The balance between forgieng players and home grown players is tricky now, mainly for several reasons. Movement of labor with E.U. laws makes it a minefield to restrict. Financially no team can afford any english player that is slightly talented, Man City apart (any club knows they can hold them to ransom) Chris Smalling is worth 10 million to man utd on the basis of a third of the season when the deal was accepted? Theo Walcott for double figures on the basis of once goal for southampton? Im sure they will go on to be good players in the future, but their prices dont reflect what over 10million can get you in germany, spain, italy etc.

    Grass roots has to be the key for england to ever have a chance in future tournaments, and by future i mean 2030 world cups and beyond!! Passing, dribbling, movement football might not win you a world cup, but it will get you close and will get the fans off their seats cheering you on, not booing after field goal practice against algeria in what is meant to be the highlight of your career. The more i watch england the more I see brian clough's ranting making sense.

    This was a longer post than i intended, and none of it helps anyone, but sometimes its nice to vent!

  • Comment number 74.

    The author makes the point at the end that we shold be forced to choose between the having best league in the world and international success. I disagree, Spain show the way. European champions, world champions, while their league is as strong as the Prem League.

  • Comment number 75.

    Although the Premier League and foreign players may not help I don't think it's the be all and end all. There is a problem with playing as a team and there may have been a divide in the camp as well as the 'individuals over team' selection policy. But I think one thing which we must look at is not even football related.

    How can the English players feel their country which barely exits? When you feel out a form you can tick a box next to Welsh, Scottish, Irish but not English. We are classed as British and the only ones on the islands to do so. One thing you do need, if anything in international football is national pride. So how do we expect players to feel pumped up for an England game when they are classed as British and have to put up the worst national anthem in history. A national anthem made for Britain not England.

    I'm not saying that is the reason why some poor players played so poorly at the Worls Cup but I think it's a serious issue that needs to be addressed otherwise we really won't care about international football in this country and support foreign teams instead.

  • Comment number 76.

    i do not know what else you guys expect, the EPL is all about making money, which club administrator would spend money on under par English players, players that would in turn play rubbish and the club goes into administration...bla know the story. They would rather spend on players that would give them results, where the players come from they don't care as long as they get results, money flows in and thats it....They don't care about the future of the English game, they only care about the business venture of the EPL. Truth hurts...

  • Comment number 77.

    Dismal showing in the WC?

    I think that we got to right where we belong, struggle to get out of the group stages and then fall at the first real sign of a good team.

    Who are the "real" English fans?

    I would suggest that very many are not from EPL sides, but those in the lower leagues where frankly football is still where it belongs - with the fan-base!

    The EPL has been almost totally dominated since it's inception by a few clubs who have carved out a niche at the highest level and I see no reason to suspect that once Liverpool get their act together, normal service with the "Sky" four will be resumed!

    England will continue to perform badly on football's world or European stage, so unless there is a complete clear-out of the self serving mandarins at the FA, nothing will change.

    Very sad...

  • Comment number 78.

    Forget who said it (Brian Barwick, maybe), but just after the World Cup, I heard a comment in an interview which put a nail in the coffin of the club vs country debate.

    As much as we love our Premier League and Champions League in this country, and we as supporters pour money into supporting our clubs, nothing captures the country like an England match, and especially when England play in the WOrld Cup. The country comes to a stop, people make arrangements to watch the game at work, or get off work early. People who don't usually watch football will tune in and get excited about watching England.

    There is nothing in club football that compares to appeal of international football, and especially the big tournaments.

    The tragedy is that just a few short weeks after England's national disappointment and the autopsy that followed, once the new Premier League season starts, all will be forgotten. And we will begin hearing this tripe again about how club football is more important now than England.

    How easily people forget!

  • Comment number 79.

    The problem with these "top flight" footballers is that they aren't top flight sportsmen. They don't have the athletic stamina and professionalism of an athlete, a pro tennis player or a professional cyclist yet they earn £m more a year.

    Bring back Superstars and let's see the difference. Maybe then they will understand why they are just overpaid softies who whinge at the slightest knock and feign injury.

  • Comment number 80.

    "Perhaps it is simply that the world has moved on and more people care more about their clubs or prefer the regular diet of top-class players offered up week in, week out every season by the Premier and Champions Leagues. And on this I would be really interested to hear your views."

    More people have always cared about their clubs than international football. Football is a club game with international games a late add-on. It's always seemed curious to me that that the adminstrators who run the game and the journalists who report on it fail to acknowledge this.

    But back to the gist of the piece. What is wrong with the English game?

    At the moment you have a variety of club systems around the world each producing benfits and harm. Look at the World Cup Finalists...

    The Spanish model. In Spain clubs can recruit from around the country (no catchment area) and the top clubs enter development teams in their equivalent of the Championship. This means top Spanish talent can train with the best in the best environment and gain exposure to competitive football from an early age. But this system also harms football at grass-roots level and means there's only one league of any note in the country.

    Dutch football. In Holland they have a tradition of exporting talent. The league is small and relatively cash poor. The onus is on the big clubs to develop talent and sell it on to the big leagues for profit. The result is a weak club game, but because of the conveyor belt to the larger leagues there's always space in the first team for talented youngsters.

    In England we benfit from a financially strong Premier League and a robust grass-roots. Our adminstrators do a good job of protecting the grass-roots and rightly so. The quid pro quo however is that young English talent often trains at the local club during formative years learning how to put his foot in at Doncaster, or hoof it clear at Hartlepool and only later getting picked up by the academies. Once at the academies the strength of the league and the rules preventing development teams means his path to the first team is seriously choked.

    The only additional comment to make is that for some reason English youngsters appear reluctant to go abroad. Perhaps the FA should be insisting that kids learn a foreign language as part of their football education?

  • Comment number 81.

    It is not the most punishing campaign in the world. Why always the need for Premier League football writers to finish every descriptive sentence with " the world." Best in the world, hardest in the world etc. etc. etc. keep it in moderation.

  • Comment number 82.

    Every time this comes up it makes my blood boil. When the Premier League was formed in 1992ish the main reason the FA quoted as wanting to split from the Football League was to put the England team first. If that is the case, can we now all agree that the Premier League has been a failure ?

  • Comment number 83.

    From a supporters point of view, the club is DEFINITELY more important than the national side. I'd naturally LOVE us to win a World Cup but I'd rather see Sheffield Wednesday lift the Premier League.

    No club is going to set the example because they'll be at a disadvantage to others - but there's no real rules that can be put in place either.

    We don't have to change the world - let's just give our youngsters more opportunities to play and be coached by qualified coaches at younger ages and that will feed through to the clubs in due course. Once this happens, there'll be more quality young english players in clubs and more chance of them breaking into the club teams.

  • Comment number 84.

    The author makes the point at the end that we shold be forced to choose between the having best league in the world and international success. I disagree, Spain show the way. European champions, world champions, while their league is as strong as the Prem League.


    I'm sorry, but that's not true. *Barcalona* might be as strong as the Prem League, but where is everyone else?

    When was the last time Madrid (easily the second best team in the Spanish league) even made it past the first knock-out round in the Champions League?

    Beyond the top two in Spain there's very little else these days. Maybe that's why Barcalona / Spain's players aren't knackered when they arrive at the World Cup?

  • Comment number 85.

    What a bunch of rubbish. Are you lot seriously claiming that England would have had a better team in SA without the foreigners in the premier league?

    Which players exactly would have been better? With the possible exception of Joe Hart and Ben Foster I can't see a single quality English player who was not getting regular first team foorball for the past two seasons.

  • Comment number 86.

    As much as we love our Premier League and Champions League in this country, and we as supporters pour money into supporting our clubs, nothing captures the country like an England match

    Stupid stupid comparison.

    England has 50 million potntial fans through accident of Birth alone, the majority of clubs can lay claim to less than 1% of that number, yet look at the TV viewing figures, Compare England games to even the CCC Games aired this year and you will see the clubs fair far better than a 100:1 ratio of viewers.

    The club game has far more fans in England than the England team do. We do not love our premier league, we love our clubs!

  • Comment number 87.

    Every time this comes up it makes my blood boil. When the Premier League was formed in 1992ish the main reason the FA quoted as wanting to split from the Football League was to put the England team first. If that is the case, can we now all agree that the Premier League has been a failure ?
    No, the FA has been the failure. All they did was create anothr organisation to run another league remember, they have no more control now than they did back them.

  • Comment number 88.

    If a rule was brought in that stipulated Premier League clubs were required to have a minimum number of English players, the immediate effect would be to increase the number of journeymen of average ability into the league. I do not want this and I’m not sure there are many people who would.

    The PL clubs should be filled with the best players available, regardless of their country of origin.

    The fact that there are so few English players that are good enough to play in the PL is not the fault of the PL. It lies much deeper than that.

    For a start, maybe the young children of today should get off their Playstations and kick a real football around.

    How much football (and sport in general) is played during a regular school week at a government school by children between the ages of 5 and 12? How does this compare with other European nations? How are children that play in their local club’s football competition coached and trained and how does this compare with other countries?

    Maybe the PL could put some more effort into improving youth development around the country, but weakening their product by pushing players that aren’t quite good enough into it is not the answer.

  • Comment number 89.

    The display of the England team, at the World cup this year was not much more than a disgrace taken into account the amount of success and money that has been gained in the Premiership over the last decade or so. I'm sure some my comments will fall on deaf ears but i still have passion enough to take the time to write them. I am English and national football is in my blood, i wish sometimes i could stop caring about our national team but i have tried and failed, i am hooked for life. Try some of my observations for size and see what you think.

    1. The mental and physical demands of the premiership are so high that some of our key players gave so much to their club run in's that they were exhausted before even reaching the tournament in South Africa.Premiership clubs have been put on a financial pedestal and must gain success and win games to survive. Some players are forced to carry injuries because they have to. Because of his ankle injury, Rooney was never fit enough to endure the final stages of the premiership and should never of gone to the World cup as a result of that. Other players i'm sure carried injuries along the way as well. Did anyone else find it strange that Fabregas and Torres couldn't even make the starting line ups with the Spanish national team? They have both been carrying injuries for sometime and were wisely left out by their national coach until they were needed.

    2. Agents and clubs make the mistake of over valuing players and make it difficult for them to be transferred out of the lower leagues or the moderate premier league clubs to obtain their full potential at the key English clubs. A perfect example of this is the current transfer saga of Phil Jagielka who was approached by Arsenal recently only to have a massive 18million price tag put on his head by Everton. Arsenal are now looking abroad to fill their vacant center back position with a cheaper option. This scenario has always followed a familiar pattern over the previous years and too many foreign players arrive in the prem as a result of it. Jagielka may miss out on valuable Champions league experience and England may suffer as a result. How long can we rely on the tired Terry and Ferdinand to marshal our defense? We need new blood, with experience at the highest level to take us to Euro 2012.

    3. Who has control over transfer prices anyhow....?? This needs to be addressed at a World level before it is too late. I am all for players being indexed (as Capello did) by their potential and abilities and being banded into transfer prices and wage brackets. Clubs may only be able to have a certain number of highly indexed players to stop the Real Madrid's and Man City's of this world simply buying their success and allow some balance to be gained at club level again. Transfer prices and wages should be capped to save some clubs from financial meltdown and stop the greed, already apparent in the game. Surely the Fifa and the Premiership chief's can't be blameless for allowing this to happen.

    4. The money men are ruining the English Prem by exploiting the current system that is in place. It's gone so far now that it is at point of no return. Foreign owners and some managers care little about the success of the English national team and care only about winning games and earning money. Nurcharing English talent appears to be of a lower priorty to some top clubs and as long as the billions keep pumping through the veins of the premier league as it does the national team appears to be doomed. If we can re channel the money into the right areas there might still be a chance but i feel it is all too little too late.

    5. Encourage the top clubs to drop their World cup stars out of the FA cup and the League cup prior to a World cup this may save some top players from playing a further 12 games a season. This may be a drastic measure but a winter break is simply not possible whilst having such a massive fixture schedule.

    6. The European laws surrounding the movement of foreign labor are out of control and not only within football!!. As a result of a change,I believe that Premiership teams should have 60 per cent English players in their squads.

    7. Finally, i believe that some of our players have been spoilt by the riches of the Premier league and lack passion and desire whilst playing for England. Club football has become bigger than national football due to the riches of the Champions league. Mourinho's, recent crass comments regarding Champions league football being of a higher level, than that of a World cup proves that. Pulling on an England shirt does not mean the same as it did 20 years ago to some players and as long as the billions keeps pumping through veins of world football it never will.

  • Comment number 90.

    The author makes the point at the end that we shold be forced to choose between the having best league in the world and international success. I disagree, Spain show the way. European champions, world champions, while their league is as strong as the Prem League.

    Sorry but Spain have done nothing to generate the situation there is right now, in fact if anything their laws on foreign players are more allowing than ours as Spanish speakers can nationalise in 2 years.

    Barcelona are where they are through the freak situation of having so many talented players roll up to their doors at one time 10-15 years ago, exactly the same as Man U had previously. And even with getting those players for practically free they are still massively in debt through player purchases.

    Real Madrid are the next best side, but they are as filled with foreigners as any team, only Cassilas and Ramos are regular spaniards int hat side as they have wasted a lot of talent over the years.

    Valencia were 3rd but were miles behind and are currently selling their internationals to all and sundry just to survive.

    After that Sevilla (Can't play in europe through financial problems like Portsmouth), Mallorca, Getafe, Villerael, Bilbao - None of them any better than perrenial mid-table teams in England like Fulham, Bolton, Blackburn etc.

    Frankly the Spanish game right now is on the brink of collapse, they just don't realise it yet. Dominated by foreign players (Other than Barca), nearly every club in debt and losing money each year, propped up by a great collection of Spanish players who just happenned to be there at the right time.

  • Comment number 91.

    I don't think you can look at England's WC performances and judge how wretched they were on one or two factors alone. In my opinion (humble as it is!), I think a number of things contributed:

    Rifts in the camp - with the intensity of competition in the Premier League and the ridiculous lengths corporate monsters like Sky will go to in order to over-dramatise games (just think of those Ford Super Sunday adverts with gladitorial music boomed out over dramatic footballing clips), is it any wonder players from certain clubs (Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd) just don't get on? If they don't hear it from the fans, they read about it in the press. Even if they manage to avoid it somehow, the rivalries are so great that rifts and divisions are inevitable. Add to this players like Ashley Cole and John Terry; nasty, vile little men who should be . I certainly wouldn't want to play in the same team as them and I can't imagine other players do either.

    Fabio Capello - a good manager, but tactically inflexible, not attuned to his squad the way he needs to be and he seems to have no Plan B. Where have we heard that before when referring to the National squad?!?!

    Tiredness - I don't necessarily think this is a critical factor, but the fact we absolutely hammer players over the Christmas period when other Leagues around the world are having a break probably has an effect. The counter-argument to this is that Dirk Kuyt, a mainstay for Liverpool last season, helped his team to the WC final and played every game, as did Wesley Sneijder for Inter. There are also stupid, money-chasing pre-season tours of the Far East, America etc. and absolutely pointless England friendlies three days before the season starts. Okay, I know this doesn't really fit in with this particular thread; however, the nugget at the FA who dreamed this up wants to be trussed up, taken out to sea and dropped overboard. Ludicrous.

    The English National sporting press - to be frank, they're a disgrace. The build the players up, hype them into world-beaters, have the majority of the Nation buying into their BS, then when it inevitably doesn't work out, they draw on a very deep, very bitter, very terrible breath and unleash their bile and their 'I told you so' attitudes all over the back pages. England are an average National team with a handful of very good players and if it all comes together every now and then, they look capable of causing an upset against a Spain, a Holland, a Germany. Yet the National press daub their empty, hollow words about England's WC chances on a sporting canvas of absolutely no foundation whatsoever. And it's sad that we, the Nation, buy into it.

    The Nation - yes, we only need take a long, hard look at ourselves as a contributory factor in England's downfall. I need to make it clear that i'm not in any way criticising those brave souls who ventured to Africa to support the team as in my mind, they should be given some kind of honour by the Queen for the hardships they endured. No, my point is linked to the National sporting press and the fact we collectively buy into this notion that we're always, always going to at least make the Quarter Finals and the dreamers among us go one or two stages further. We need to wake up from this dream. I have given England so many second chances now, i've had quite enough. I try not to get excited about a major tournament when England have made it and no matter how hard I try, I can't avoid getting swept up in the anticipation, the meeting up with friends to watch the game, the post-match analysis etc. Only to have it always end in crushing disappointment and a sense that you were right to try so hard to avoid it all. Honestly, in your heart-of-hearts, when was the last time England put a consecutive run of strong performances together? I'm not talking about superb one-off games like the 5-1 against Germany, the home and away qualifiers against Croatia etc. I mean three or four excellent performances? I can't think of any.

    I'm even boring myself now so i'm going to finish, but there are other things to consider as well; lack of talent coming through; reliance on cheaper, more technically gifted foreign players; tactially inferior players; lack of adequate coaching in the English National set-up through every level of its infrastructure.

    Many, many factors and it's going to take a lot more than a post WC dissection and bold words about England's future to convince me to get behind my National team again. I just can't take the heartache anymore.

  • Comment number 92.

    7. Finally, i believe that some of our players have been spoilt by the riches of the Premier league and lack passion and desire whilst playing for England. Club football has become bigger than national football due to the riches of the Champions league. Mourinho's, recent crass comments regarding Champions league football being of a higher level, than that of a World cup proves that. Pulling on an England shirt does not mean the same as it did 20 years ago to some players and as long as the billions keeps pumping through veins of world football it never will.

    Mourinho is correct though. Club sides like Barcelona, Madrid, Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea, Munich and Inter would beat any international side 9/10 times. First they have generally better squads and second they play together all year.

    There is not one single England player who lacks the passion for playing for their country, that was what they dreamt of as kids and no amount of money will change that dream. However as you stated they are exhausted mentally as much as anything else.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Add to this players like Ashley Cole and John Terry; nasty, vile little men who should be..."

    Apologies, I forgot to add what I think should be done to John Terry and Ashley Cole. Please feel free to insert your own ideas on this!

  • Comment number 94.

    I have lots of friends that have either cancelled their Premier League season tickets or their Sky football subscription for this season. All are fed up of club over country. When are the FA and the Premier League going to learn that for both to succeed in the long-term they need a symbiotic relationship.

    Issues such as the Premier League/England football team not using the WC ball when it is available (because they have a ball sponsorship deal with another manufacturer) is just amateur. Sort it out please as this is turning me off English football.

  • Comment number 95.

    What is truly staggering, is that in all the debate, no one thinks to analyse how the CURRENT batch of top England players got to where they are now. No attempt is made to find a pattern in their development or their characteristics, and the players themselves are never asked their opinion.
    Instead the same tired, unimaginative cliches are wheeled out by heads of this-and-that, pundits and journos. If you had to create artifact a, and you had several examples of this artefact at your disposal complete with bluprints. Wouldn't your starting point be those bluprints and those artefacts instead of jumping to conclusions about how to create one yourself?
    How much do statistics like 42% mean? Last time I checked you take 23 players to a World Cup not 230. All that is required is to guarantee a few players every few years is produced, that can become amongst the top 10 in their position in the world. I'd take 1 Ferdinand or Seaman over a hundred "first rate" but not world class players.
    In the last 10 years England have had Seaman, Campbell, Terry, Cole, Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard, Owen, Beckham, King, Hargreaves. Top class, in my opinions taking such a generalised approach as suggested with academies is not going to produce the desired results, it will simply be a pipeling directly to the Championship and League One sides, and is an example of business thinking invading areas it should stay out of.

  • Comment number 96.

    I would love to be a top flight English football player !!! If you do well, you are hailed as world beaters but as sooon as something goes wrong and you perform hugely below ( rightly ) expected levels of perfomance there is a mass panic and everyone starts blaming the manager, the league that you play in and conjure any number of spurious reasons why you performed so badly. Th
    This whole argument about the players being 'tired' doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Many players who are in the premiership played to a higher level than most of the England team and they played the same number of games, but what, I wonder, would be the reaction of the players if the FA were to create an 'elite squad' of players ( within existing wage structures ) and inform the players and their clubs that there is a maximum number of games per season that these players can play in. I suspect that neither the players nor their clubs would be overly happy
    The 'Golden Generation' of Lampard, Rooney, Gerrard etc have had numerous chances to shine and have markedly failed to do so. Would it be so horrendous to contemplate an england team with these names in and some other players that, at least, give the impression that pulling on an england shirt is the pinnacle of their achievements, rather than a tiresome chore and business as usual !
    I remember in the semi final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, watching Lawrence Dallaglio singing the national anthem, with tears streaming down his face. Seized by the emotion and significance of the occasion. A picture of total commitment and desire to win. When did you last see anything like that from any England player before a game ?

  • Comment number 97.

    while there are only 42% english players playing in the premier league, this still adds up to well over an englands squads worth of players playing in arguably the best league in the world. the league is what it is because of the foreign players, without them it would just be the championship. is it not more likely that 'those that do not get their opportunities' are just not good enough? i dont see them ever getting poached by foreign teams either.

    the root problem is our grass roots system, too few players taught to any sort of technical standard and too few people in general competing at a high level from a young age, people go to university and get a degree now, they dont play football. the english obsession with strength and speed needs to stop or we will never compete with the rest of the world. perhaps we could take some of the 6 million a year being paid to capello and get some half decent coaches to train our youngest all accross the country?!?!?!?!?!

  • Comment number 98.

    The majority of these posts have trotted out the same nonsense and not really reacted to the article. I believe that within a month the "excitement" of the Premier League will have papered over the cracks of the institutional problems in English football.

    Scudamore is wrong if he believes that it is not partly the Premier League's responisbility to ensure we have a decent national team in the terms of helping the English players getting a chance to play.

    The ideas of capping foreign players, bringing in a winter break etc are short term solutions that can help to some extent. But the only way to truly turn the English game around is to start from the top. There must be a reform of the FA.

    The only way to do this is for the Governement to get involved and shake up the FA. Report after Report has called for a reform of the our dated " old boys netwtork" that is the FA today, but nothings really changed. The members are hardly going to implement measures that mean they will lose their place in the FA, so the Governement have to step in, but this could lead to a ban from FIFA. I feel it has got to a point of needs must.

    In 2000 and 2004 when the German's did badly, they implemented reform in their German FA and its these canges that allowed/helped the the rest of their game to change. We can not expect a change if the people running it cannot change.

    I believe that the FA Board should be made up of elected members by 92 league clubs and by the coaches who teach our children how to play, this would addd a sense of togetherness and add a degree of accountability. People can't hide behind "them upstairs made the decision" if you had a chance to pick "them upstairs." The Board should be made up of ex-pro's and respected business men so there is a balanced view of what should be done.

    At present the FA, The Football League and Premier League are seperate entities and it appears they act against each other. I feel they should work closer together and have common goals. The academy leagues should mirror the first team league as much as it can so that it can prepare the players for the step up.

    If we can get the FA to get its house in order then we can begin to push ideas down to grass roots level, along with ideas coming up from grassroots to the top. This can only benefit our game, and then we can go on to address the foreighn players issue.

  • Comment number 99.

    The league is to blame; the managers are too scared to drop the England stars. So it’s pretty straight forward for Fabio Capello to pick the 23 golden boys. The style of play as well made out to be the 'best league in the world' Robinho proved that it is not by being one of the best players as far as brazils world cup went. What also put the premier league in its place was the fact that Cesc Fabregas hardly touched the ball the whole world cup, Naive English fans here - not just specifically arsenal fans. Will sit there saying "he's amazing I don’t understand..." the simple reason is he can’t even lace Xavi or Iniesta's boots. Cesc Fabregas is too English for the Spanish national team – Fact.

  • Comment number 100.

    The best league in the world and the best national side in the world are complementary and possible. It exists in Spain!

    To suggest the Premier League is the best league in the world in terms of either skill, entertainment or competition is rubbish. The hype machine rolls on.

    England failed at the world cup because the players are not good enough either in terms of skill or professionalism.


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