Sunday, July 4, 2010

What's wrong with English football part 3

Just thought it worth noting that two of the four countries left in the World Cup have no Premiership players in their squads (Uruguay and Germany), whilst Spain has 3, but only Torres has played consistently (and poorly, so far). The Netherlands has 5 Premiership players in the squad, but only three have played so far.

On the other hand Australia, Nigeria, and France had 7 players from English teams, and failed to get out of their group, as did the US who scraped out of theirs. And what to say about the performance of the team with the most Premiership players... (England, with 23 out of 23).

Maybe Joe Cole's remark that England were 'simply not good enough' should get a prize for statement of the obvious. The only reason it seems shocking is that we remain convinced that the strength of the Premiership should be an indicator of the strength of the national team. But in fact there is another way of looking at this: another striking feature of the England squad is that all 23 players have played their entire careers in the Premiership, meaning that they have at no point been exposed to a different approach to the game (counter-attack football remaining a particular blind spot).

The Premiership may be the 'best league in the world' (may be) but many of the world's best players do not play in England; and England's squad is perhaps uniquely lacking in the experience of playing regularly outside their home country (only Italy, another tournament flop, can match this). Some of our players (Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Ferdinand) are big stars in the Premiership, but most of the squad are most certainly not. So the Premiership gives a stage to our best home-grown players, but the success of Premiership teams is just down to money, which allows us to sign many top-class players from overseas. It has nothing at all to do with the quality of English footballers, which has barely improved since Sky transformed our national game.