The English Premier League.
Yes. Over the last decade or so, the premier league has been one of the most attractive, lucrative leagues in Europe, and indeed the world. Then why fault it for England’s miseries?
The answer, lies in the success of the league itself. The premier league has thrived far too long on foreign players lighting up the league. Neither the league nor the clubs in it have paid much attention to youth academies. Club owners looking for instant success rely instead on bringing in big name players from foreign leagues to deliver the results. Patience, has never been a word too often used in the premier league. While the emergence of these foreign players has led to great advertisement for the league and in lots of success for the clubs, it has resulted in locally bred talent not getting the kind of exposure they need.
Since Terry, Lampard, Gerrard and co, the big clubs have produced only a handful players worthy of playing regularly on the big stage. More recently, smaller clubs like Southampton, who can’t afford the big players, have looked inwards and discovered the likes of Lallana and Shaw. Yet, these are players who have no experience playing under the pressure of expectations and standards of the big clubs and so, find it harder to make an impact at the international level. Given time, they will carry England forward. But more of their kind must be bred.
Look at the most recent winners of the world cup. Germany this time and Spain in 2010. When Spain were crowned champions, spanish clubs like barcelona and Real madrid were at the top of their games with spanish talent (with the exception of Messi and Ronaldo) driving them. Take Germany for instance, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have proved their worth and the quality of the German youngsters they have in recent years. It is no coincidence the national team’s fortunes have been so closely linked to the emphasis on youth development at the league level.
That, in itself makes a case for the premier league and the English FA to give more emphasis to local talent. Probably provide incentives to teams that have youth development programs and take in young English players from the academies into the main teams. For a start, having a mini league for the reserves and youth team and providing more coverage to the youth FA cup and so on will do them a world of good.
Hopefully, by Russia 2018, England will have a squad developed and bred at the highest level and they will fare better than their star-studded predecessors.