How the Global and Financial Success of the Premier League Will Continue to Hinder the English National Team
Blog Written by Yianni Garris (@Garinho14):
The Barclay's Premier League kicked off last week and it instantly showed why it is the best league in the world. The league may not have the best players as evident by this year's Team of The Year selection; however, it is the unpredictability of the league that the other top leagues in Europe simply do not have. Everyone has their own predictions on who will lift this year's trophy, but if Leicester City's triumph proved anything last season, it is that nothing in the league is guaranteed, such as leagues like France, Italy, and Germany where the big question is who will come second? The league is an attraction for players all over Europe, especially with the wages able to be provided by the clubs and it can become responsible for helping the players entering this league turn into global superstars without needing to only sign for the best teams. However, the one group that has suffered, and their display in this summer's Euro were clear evidence is the English national team itself.
No one can provide an efficient argument to the claim that the English national team's time in France was nothing short of a failure. Coming second in what was considered an easy group, as well crashing out to Iceland was almost comical to the neutral viewer. One of the main problems for the English national team is that the squad is competing in a league in which the English players cannot thrive. When looking at every position, can an Englishman be considered the best player in that position when looking at the Premier League? The only case that can truly be argued is the striker position in players Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, however, it can also be argued that if Sergio Aguero were able to be fit for an entire season he would be able to win the golden boot every season without any competition. That lack of dominance carries over into the national team and seeing the final Euro squad shows that there should be no surprise to England’s inability to compete at the very top. Out of the final 23-man squad, less than half of the players came from a team that finished in the top four of the Premier League. Only two players came from the top two placed teams in the league, one of those being controversially Jack Wilshere who only made a couple of appearances after being out almost the entire season with a broken leg. The core of the national team came from Tottenham Hotspur, who although had players like Dele Alli and Harry Kane, who had excellent seasons, their absolute capitulation during the latter months in the Premier League it was clear it carried over to their national team form. If your best players are not playing for the best team in their league your national team should not expect to have an abundance of success.
An easy question that can arise from this is how this can happen? How can a country where all of its players, minus the third choice goalkeeper, play in the best league in the world and not be able to provide a team that can dominate tournaments? There are obviously a lot of different factors. It could be the media overhyping what can be considered a slightly above average team, or possibly the change of tactics right before the tournament, also Roy Hodgson not necessarily being a genius at his trade. However, one of the factors I find to be the greatest to the English National team’s downfall is the inability for the English players to be able to truly develop. Something that all of the money in the Premier League has stopped, is the “not as rich” clubs relying on the English players they have at their disposal. If the current pickings are not up to par teams, no matter the size, can easily bring in outside talent. As well as the difficulty to bring in these outside players, it becomes easier every year with the increased wages being able to encourage the player’s signature. With all of the money coming into the league, teams cannot risk the possibility of going down to the second tier. What that means is not risking the English player you have when you can go out and purchase another player to come in and almost guarantee getting the job done. When looking at a newly promoted team like Middleborough signs a player like Alvaro Negredo, or a team like Everton being able to shell out up to 30 million pounds for a player like Yannick Bolasie just show how deep a mid-table team’s pocket is, as well as the pulling power a newly promoted team has. The lower and mid-table teams are no longer places for a younger English player to develop under and work his way into getting a move to a better team.
The implementing of the “English Premium” does not help a player either. After his very expensive move for 49 million pounds, Raheem Sterling completely under performed for Manchester City and John Stones has recently completed a 47 million pound move to the club as well this summer. These are still two very young players with great potential and have time to fill that potential, but the question also has to be asked would they cost that amount of money if they were not English? Most likely not and it is that premium on English players that also causes managers to purchase foreign talent because they are able to find someone who can do the same job if not better for even cheaper and it is less of a gamble financially if that player does not live up to expectations. It is tough for clubs to be able to fix these problems that I have mentioned above because all of the things that I have mentioned are some of the reasons people love the Premier League. They love the huge transfer fees, the small clubs competing with the big clubs and all of the players from all over the globe coming in to compete. It seems as though the Premier League has noticed this and I like the idea of the newly implemented Premier League 2 and it appears that this will help with the development of the younger players. However, the only way to find out if there will actually be progress for the English national team is come Russia in 2018. But, if things continue the way they are in the Premier League English fans should not hold their breath for success in major tournaments.