A day after their demise at the Euro 2008 qualifying match, the English are asking themselves if the high number of foreigners in the team prevents new national talents from being hatched. The ex real madrid galactic, David Beckham, rejects the idea, even if he thinks that the English Federation could do better in what concerns training.
Next Saturday, none of the eleven players selected by Arsenal for the premier league, to help keep their place at the top, is an English national. After the defeat of England by Croatia, last Wednesday, which spelt their elimination from the Euro 2008, the press looks askance at the mediocrity of the game offered by the team, wondering if it is not due to the high number of foreigners in the leading clubs of the country, sending the nationals to the benches.
According to the daily, The Independant, english clubs have an average of 17 foreign players in their teams, while this same average has dropped to 10 in Italy, Spain and France. London’s Arsenal with their french coach, Arsène Wenger, is particularly targeted by the criticisms geared against the functionning of a league that generates the most profits the world over out of which two teams took part in the three final matches of the champions league. The question of outside competition concerns coaches as well, at a time when the English federation does not seem to find an english expert qualified enough to replace Steve Mclaren at the head of the list.
« Foreigners have raised the quality of the game »
David Beckham, who developed within the Real Madrid Galactics, the most admired cocktail of star players ever put together in a single club, at a time when Spaniards were doubtful if their best clubs were even close to being spanish, has his own thoughts on the question : « I think that it is only an excuse. Foreigners who make it to the premier league and into our country have raised the quality of the game», he said during an interview in the daily, The Daily Telegraph. About foreign coaches he goes on to say that « foreign coaches, like Arsène Wenger, Mourinho (Jose, ex-Chelsea), Rafa (Rafaël, Liverpool FC) Benitez, came and made the game even more interesting, they came along with some of the best players and raised the standard of english football ». he was nostalgic of the days of kick and rush (a style characterised by long shots and headers).
The sports columnist from the daily newspaper The Independant says that the high numbers of foreign players could have played « a role, but it is far from being the only factor and certainly not the most important ». Just like Beckham, who now plays in the United States, Glenn Moore remembers that the english championship comprised of a 90% english participation when they lost in the qualification for the world cup in both 74 and 78 and for the Euro championship in 76. He also adds, « despite the influx of foreign players, the stream of english players has not decreased. In fact most of the footballers who have been scouted for are Scottish, Welsh and Irish».
This does not prevent the english federation from organising an intensive training programmes. Georges Prost, who is in charge of this domaine at the Olympique lyonnais, after having spent five years in Southampton (english first division) said last September in a regional journal that « in what concerns training, the english are 30 years behind ». A situation which emanates from the opposition between the Federation and rich clubs. The latter are reticent to the idea of the federation taking too much interest in training therefore getting too close for comfort in their business. Under these conditions, seeing what players like Didier Drogba, The Ivorian from Chelsea, or even the Brazilian Blumer Elano from Manchester United, have to offer in both the game and merchandising, one can certainly not fathom how the clubs could ever try to limit– bound for failure- the issue of work permits to non national footballers.