Where are England`s home players in elite clubs playing in the Premier League? It`s a serious issue that has struck the face of English football and the current scenario looks far from impressive and is a worry for the future of Three Lions team.
On Sunday`s FA Community Shield match between Arsenal and Manchester City, only three home grown players started the game out of 22 on the field. All three were from Arsenal. Manchester City had none with Joe Hart sitting on the bench.
Earlier, in May, when asked about the role and numbers of English players, City`s manager Manuel Pellegrini had stated the home grown players are very costly and with the financial fair play rules, it becomes tough for them to have English players. The Premier League constitutes a huge influx of foreign players and going forward, the numbers are expected to increase further.
English players have the lowest ratio in playing for other European clubs in different nations as the mindset is set to play at home. Therefore, where are the players in big teams?
There has been widespread criticism from all corners with the worrisome figures of English players and the problem lies within the crux of its depth. England had a World Cup to forget in Brazil and the next major tournament, Euro 2016, too will cause immense problems for Roy Hodgson if this trend continues.
There are several factors that determine the threat of the footballing situation in England and the world`s most followed league faces a major calamity in terms of English player representation. Let`s have a look at some major factors hampering the growth of British players.
1. Impact of foreign players: There is a demand for players from other nationalities and the number is rising day by day. European and African nations have major chunks of players in the Premier League, and recently, Brazil and other South American nations are becoming an interesting destination to choose from. Foreign players add a lot of vitality and embark a fashion statement of the brand football has associated itself with in current time. The contribution of foreign players in England is a noteworthy presentation and over the years, their presence has overshadowed the Englishmen. The impact foreigners have here sells for any top club and the quest for silverware often blinds the eye in giving promising home talent much chances.
2. Academy products have dried down: The current trend doesn`t allow promising home talent to shine in major clubs challenging for the title. Over the years, barring some very few players that have come out from academies and made a name in top clubs, the numbers now have minimised further. The youth are subjected to the `Reserve team` and then shipped out to clubs that play in the lower divisions. The mid-table clubs have been a chief contributor of English players to the bigger clubs and also the England national team. The average of 3-4 English players that the top teams possess are all from lower clubs rather than their academies. With the lower clubs not having much say in the transfer activities, their promising English players are then subjected to audacious bids from the richer ones and that`s where Pellegrini was right in citing the valuation of top local players being so high.
3. A lot depends on the manager: The managers of top clubs have played a major role in causing a downfall of players from England. With the managerial stability that has been wiped out with hunger for success, every new manager then comes in, tends to go persist with a vision best suited to his style. For the richer clubs, this has been a major issue with managers mainly going for foreign players after getting the financial back up. Over the years, several promising English players have become a shadow of their former selves under foreigners. Micah Richards, Jack Rodwell, and Adam Johnson are few of the names that looked to deliver at the big stage but faltered with lack of playing time. This is where a manager plays a big role. Only the likes of Everton`s Roberto Martinez and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have utilised the academies to a better extent than their counterparts. Several young players have got chances to play for these clubs and are making a mark.
4. Horrific statistics: After Manchester City won the Premier League last season with only two English players in the main team, this season presents a further shocking display in the represenation of home grown players. The likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham will field a total of only 3-4 English players between themselves. Out of 33 players starting a game for these three teams collectively, the numbers 3-4, present a ghastly scenario. On days it might be none if regulars Joe Hart (City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea) and Andres Townsend (Tottenham) don`t play.
Often several good players with potential are bought by bigger clubs and then their role gets diminished with latest example of City`s Jack Rodwell facing the brunt. These players then go back to smaller clubs in search for regular game time. A lot of promising youngsters miss the chance of playing in the Champions League and hence their experience against Europe`s elite takes a hit.
Another important factor, are the owners of these clubs, who are mainly from other nations and their primary goal is to win trophies. Therefore, the desire of buying world`s best players becomes a priority and their main business. Football has become a performance based tactic rather than a philosophy based game.
On this front, Bundesliga have done wonders in promoting youth players from their ranks. This league has the most home grown players and has spent the least in the transfer market compared to England and Spain. Germany won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and nearly most of the squad were from their club academies. German football has reached new heights and their consistency in big competitions speaks for itself.
Now with the Euro 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2018 being next, England should utilise major chunk of time in identifying players from the Championship and League One sides, as that`s where several promising talent ply their trade. Youth team and Reserve team players of major clubs should get a look in. With the present scenario of elite clubs hogging the services of foreigners, the trend will likely continue in many years to come and a kill is on the cards.
English players need more exposure on the bigger stages of the game, and for that, club academies should be the major focus point.