The English premiership. A Football league played in England, in English Football stadiums but played by foreign footballers. As England struggled in the World Cup, along with Italy I was struck by the similarities between both the Serie A demise and the current drain of star players from the Premiership. The Italian national team is now poor, and it's been coming for them. They got away with aging players for a while, and Pirlo at 35 remains their best player. Veratti may become a world star, but he's not there yet. Ballotelli lacks the drive to be a top, top class player and there it ends. Defensively shorn of the stars of old (think Maldini, Cannavaro, Baresi, etc), a static midfield, and defensively blunt up front. Who does this remind you of?

England are poor defensively, and the midfield is unimaginative, and for all of the pace that Sturridge and Sterling provide, it's more mayhem than incision they provide. Rooney has stagnated since his first, public attempt to leave Manchester United. Could it be that he's jaded from all the football he has played at a relatively young age. Once upon a time it was Rooney and Ronaldo, but you can't mention them in the same breadth anymore as Ronaldo has kicked on to produce mesmerizing standards, while Rooney's influence on games begins to wane. Midfield has been so bereft, Steven Gerrard had to be accommodated despite being one paced for the international game for the last season.

To be fair, England and Italy aren't alone in this boat. You can place Brazil, despite Silva and Neymar in this group. Argentina even with Messi and Garay are heading this way. As are Spain and Holland.

All of the above would be irrelevant if young talent was streaming through. This is footballs biggest problem at the moment, and the source of the problem would appear to be greed and money. Which has led to domestic leagues not producing enough domestic talent. Ross Barkley apart, can you think of one blockbusting talent ready to break through? Sterling has pace and can finish, but his end product isn't there yet. Shaw is as of yet untested at higher levels, and is unlikely to be until United get back into the Champions League.

Have a look at your club and name the players you would have hopes for in terms of playing first team. Now limit it to British players. A smaller list now I'm betting. This didn't happen overnight. When the Premiership exploded, talent from all around the world were excited to join. Some good, some poor and some downright mercenary. But, the inflated wages they brought filtered down the system. The British players now looked for better wages, and players coming behind them went looking for higher wages before they had even made it. Kids now are on ridiculous money before they hit their twenties. Why would you strive to succeed or move up when you are already on 4 figures a week. A week. Not a month, a week.

We can't blame all of this on Johnny Foreigner. He asked, and the English clubs paid. Now English players with inflated egos ask, and clubs are paying. When Manchester United in 2010 bent to pay Rooney the wages he demanded, the last barrier to standing up to player power fell. During the last summer both Liverpool, and United claimed victories over player power in the Suarez and Rooney sagas. The subsequent events laid that claim bare. Rooney got a ridiculous deal from it, and Suarez got his move to sunny Spain where the press aren't as aggressive. Word of advice Luis: don't go biting people on a sports field, and you'll find the press won't hound you as much. Just a suggestion.

The press play a part in that they are so desperate for a star player to emerge. A hero to pin their hopes on. From Robson, to Gazza, to Owen, to Rooney. But they are missing the point. Star players perform best when they have other good players around them. Take Rooney's form with and without Ronaldo as an example. None of the English squad that went to Brazil would make the German squad. Nor the Spanish squad. None. Harsh? Not really. Last English team to win the Champions League? Chelsea. Hardly a club renowned for producing English Talent. Two of their then English stars in Lampard, and Cole were purchased. Ryan Bertrand hardly counts consider the amount of game time he had in that season. In 2008 United had six English starters, 4 were purchased. In 2005 Liverpool had two English starters, both home grown. In 1999, United had four English starters, with three home grown. If England wish to return to being competitive in international terms, the highest club level standards must be used. The above figures are horrendous for a league hoping to produce home grown talent.

Clubs now are so commercially aware that success means money, so success is needed immediately if not sooner. All the top clubs have scouting networks worldwide. Which would make sense if the clubs were signing proper talents from these scouting trips. Bebe anyone? Arsenal were the first ones to unearth gems, but even they have lost their touch. I admire Wenger and his philosophy of buying young players and moulding them to play proper passing football. I just wish he'd focus on English or British talent. Wilshire is a footballer I had high hopes for, but he hasn't pushed on either. Is it his lifestyle which is inviting injuries or slowing down his recuperation process? Only he can answer that. Chelsea just don't do home grown talent, and are unlikely to. How many midfielders does Mourinho want? Loads it would appear as long as they aren't British. City are increasing looking outside British talent. Rodwell and Sinclair came with big hopes. One is gone and another seems destined to follow.  Liverpool to be fair are trying to blood English talent, and reaping the benefits. United used to do this, but now are searching the world for talent. Larnell Cole and Ryan Tuncliffe answer that. Chelsea just don't do home grown talent, and are unlikely to. How many midfielders does Mourinho want? Loads it would appear as long as they aren't British. City are increasing looking outside British talent. Rodwell and Sinclair came with big hopes. One is gone and another seems destined to follow.  Liverpool to be fair are trying to blood English talent, and reaping the benefits. United used to do this, but now are searching the world for talent. Larnell Cole and Ryan Tuncliffe both left the club without decent first team game time. Everton are also trying to blood British talent, and are also reaping the benefits. Spurs don't want English or British talents. How many English or British talents did they sign last summer when they went on their spending spree? Exactly.

Even the mid to lower table sides are going out of these isles in search of talent, bar maybe Hull. I honestly can't believe that there isn't English or British talent that isn't as good as what Sunderland bought last summer, or Aspas, or what Cardiff bought for example? There has to be talent out there that can improve upon these efforts. Aston Villa are trying to blood young talent, but I'm not sure that it's not based on greed rather than the good of the club.

Another worrying aspect is the transfer targets. Big clubs are now looking elsewhere for big signings. To date, Arsenal bought a Chilean; Chelsea bought 2 Spaniards and a Brazilian; City bought a Brazilian,  An Argentine and a Frenchman; Liverpool bought a German, and a Serbian to go with their two English players. That trend doesn't stop at top four level. At the other end of the scheme Transfers out follow the same pattern. English and British players are being transferred out or being released at alarming rates. Again the question must be asked: are the English or British youth talent not up to scratch or are they being over looked?

English clubs also need to change their requirements, as indeed do clubs throughout the world. Clubs now are looking for athletes who can play football. How about looking for footballers. Kids who love having the ball at their feet, and not kids who get unnerved the instant they gain possession? Football needs to start producing footballers again, and clubs need to take responsibility for this. Start training kids how to hone their enjoyment of the game, and stop coaching individuality out of kids. Forget French, German or Spanish models. Concentrate on local, home grown players. Imagine the good that could come from the millions spent on transfer fees for poor players. Again imagine the value of Bebe's seven million fee to the grass roots game? Only then can England hope to compete internationally.

 

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