I guess you can class this as an open letter to the FA, Premier League, media and anyone else who’s listening with the ability to make an impact, and improve our shambolic footballing efforts as a nation.
I think I speak on behalf of every England football fan across the nation when I say I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of the yes-men, I’ve had enough of the boring football and I’ve certainly had enough of how our nation’s football is run.
We’re a few days into the International break, and I’m already bored of the thought of England playing. It’s not just because it’s a friendly either, it’s the same every single International break – and that’s not just me, I’d be confident to say 95% of English fans feel the same way. There’s a collective sigh when Premier League football ends for a couple of weeks – It shouldn’t be like that.
Despite millions being invested in grass-roots, England have been on a steady decline for a while now, and there really are no signs of it getting any better. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the problem isn’t at grass-roots, the problem is at the door of the FA and the Premier League. So, what can we do to take England to the top? Here’s a few ideas…
FA and Premier League getting on the same page
The FA and the Premier League are two different entities, with completely different interests. Whilst this is the case here in England, in the majority of other nations, the governing body and league are the same people. Whilst the FA are looking at ways to improve our nation, the Premier League are firmly focused on fuelling the juggernaut that generates billions of pounds.
The two organisations need to work together – there are huge benefits for both parties, which brings me to my next point.
Minimum of 5 English Players in Starting XI
A stat taken in January showed that a staggering 69.2% of players in the Premier League were foreign. The next highest out of Europe’s ‘big leagues’ were Italy, with 55.5% and then Germany on 49.2%. Spain and France weren’t even in the top 10. This figure is one that will keep rising with every passing transfer window.
It’s clear that bar a few exceptions, young players just don’t get a chance in first team squads – academies are almost pointless, especially at the bigger clubs. The FA and Premier League combined, can really steal a march on other nations here. A league requirement could, and probably should be at least 5 English players in every starting XI. That still leaves 6 starting spots for expensive foreign signings, which the Premier League live and breathe for, but it also guarantees that at least 100 English players will be starting in the PL each week, and more importantly the 30 players at the ‘big 6 clubs’.
It has a compound effect – Bigger clubs will invest more in Academies and treat the development process more seriously. Would Chelsea loan out Ruben Loftus-Cheek and others if this were a requirement? Probably not.
Not only does it benefit the England National team massively, it brings identity back to the English game. English players playing in English games, local lads playing in derbies – It adds to the excitement, the passion and the rivalry. The Premier League would be born again. The England manager would have a real selection headache, for probably the first time ever.
If 5 players is too much, start with 3 in the first season, then 4 in the second, phase it in. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. It honestly is.
Players playing abroad
When you look at the successful nations over the past couple of decades, their players have been playing their football all over Europe. Predominantly, bar a couple of exceptions, all English players play in the English league.
Now this is something that is out of the control of any governing body but again, it’s a compound effect of my last point. The more English players that start in England, the more chance we’ll have of unearthing a Wayne Rooney-like gem. The more players we uncover, the more chance Europe’s elite will come calling, hopefully spreading our English players out across Europe, experiencing different styles, playing for the world’s best. You only need to look at the likes of Spain and France to see the variety of leagues the players play in – surely that would only be a benefit?
Now, I’ve never had the fortune of living in another country, but I’m pretty positive no other nation gets slaughtered by the media like ours. The newspapers actually go out of their way to unnerve the England team, especially when it comes to major tournaments. It almost feels like it’s their duty to do as much damage as possible.
And that’s not to mention the deliberate leaking of team selections and following our key players’ personal lives looking for a good front-page story.
I understand that these people are professionals, and should take everything they read lightly but with people speaking about psychological problems within our side, does it really help? How about a positive outlook from the English media for once?
Everyone knows it, the FA, 9/10 times will go with the easy option, the safe option – especially when it comes to manager selections. The England manager, for me, needs to be someone who will demand respect without having to say a word. There are a lot of egos in the dressing room, and I’m afraid Gareth Southgate, or someone of his mould, isn’t able to control that.
When the next appointment comes around, which will probably be sooner rather than later, England need to go big – English or not.
That’s just a few ideas, some aren’t practical to implement straight away but something needs to be done. In my life time, I have only ever known a passive, boring England. I want something to get excited about and I want my nation to be competing for the top honours – it frustrates me how far away we are.
Have any ideas to get England back to the top? Tweet me @ZeFutbolWriter.