Many Englishmen are now failing to start for Premier League sides. A considerable influx of overseas players, particularly in the top clubs, has resulted from the increase in TV broadcasting of Premier League matches all over the world, and the teams’ consequently enormous budgets. The proportion of English players starting games has dropped 10% in 10 years, from 41% in the campaign of 2006/07 to last season’s 31%.
I argue that England’s international success has decreased in recent years due to this lack of top-flight football experience for many English youngsters. Many of England’s best players have struggled to get a regular top-flight starting position, in the process being replaced by highly paid players from other nations. This has stunted the growth of several promising young players, decreasing the number of high quality, experienced English footballers available to the national side. The success of the English national team in major competitions such as the World Cup and Euro 2016 has plummeted, as England has failed to perform in the last 3 years; for example only reaching the last 16 in Euro 2016, where we lost to lowly Iceland in traumatic style.
The Football Association has attempted to improve the production of English players by forcing all sides to have at least 8 home-grown players in their 25-man squad. Some argue this should increase to 12, due to the advantage taken of this rule by larger clubs such as Chelsea who have failed to expand their English talent beyond this minimum of 8. However, due to this rule the cost of English players has risen sharply, with players such as Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and John Stones costing above £50 million each, so many sides are reluctant to pay over the odds for extra English youth.
However, if more British managers are appointed by Premier League clubs, the nurturing of English players will rise due to the managers’ interests in the national team and its success. Only 8 out of a possible 20 clubs are controlled by a British manager. But recruiting British managers means taking on managers who lack European experience, with Sir Alex Ferguson being the only British manager to have won the Champions League in the last 38 years. This understandably dissuades high-calibre Premier League sides such as Chelsea, Manchester City and United from recruiting a British manager over a foreigner such as Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s head coach. The Spaniard has won 2 Champions Leagues in his years managing Bayern Munich and Barcelona between 2008 and 2016.
In my opinion the Football Association needs to be more strict on its rules for Premier League sides, whether by insisting on a greater number of British players in their sides, or insisting on a proportion of these British players starting, or having a quota for managers and coaches. Such moves would enhance the success of the English and other home nation teams. Encouragingly, since the introduction of the rule of a minimum 8 English players in a squad, the England youth teams’ success has been rising, with a world cup already won by the under 18s. A stretch in these rules will increase first-team success further in the future to fulfil the high expectations being set by the younger generation.
Image sourced from https://pixabay.com/en/football-soccer-premier-league-ball-2580983/