A recent observation by the Guardian made during the first week of this year's edition of the English Premier League was that only a third of the names on the teamsheet for the various clubs were of English descent.
At first glance this may simply be seen as a favourable indication of the diversity inherent within the league. However, complacency in addressing this issue leads to a whole different set of issues altogether.
Is it not intriguing that a league which prides itself of being innately "English" has no way of projecting that on to the pitch in terms of English player participation.
Matters are only thrown into relief with this being essentially a World Cup year. Make no mistake about it, the international stars are absolutely a boon to the league.
In fact, these players so often possess copious amounts of talent- enough to distract the disconcerted English supporter.
I am in no means advocating the idea that the league implement exclusionary policies to restrict player movement into the league. Rather, I am only trying to shed light on a recurring theme in English football.
All blame would be exonerated if the case was that English players flocked abroad to other countries to ply their trade. But the days of David Beckham and Owen Hargreaves are long behind us.
Not only is the composition of English players marginal in terms of numbers, but dare I say it, since the times of Alan Shearer and such in the 90s and early 2000s, there has been an ever mounting discrepancy in talent levels as well.
Granted, there is always the customary teenager who shows flashes of sublime brilliance here and there and is suddenly entrusted to hold the beacon light that shall redeem English national football from the peripheries of the international circuit (cue Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott), but all such irrational expectations are neutralised once we simply face facts.
The English game has lacked, for a long time now, any elite level homegrown talent. Sure, arguments can be made for Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, etc.
But can that same argument be extended to today's throng of players such as Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge, Leighton Baines, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling?
Granted, these players are on the cusp of realising their full potential. But then again, such speculation on what could be has long been the bread and butter for enthusiasts all across the world. Making nominal judgement based on likely potential is very different as opposed to ranking on the basis of execution and performance.
England has passed through its 'Golden Generation' with Beckham, Michael Owen, Lampard and Gerrard without much to show for it.
Recently, their inaction and implosion in the World Cups and the European Championships can easily be attributed to a lot of reasons - lack of goal line technology being one. But that aside, the most glaring issue is how mainstream English players are. Do their performances credit such a celebrity status and inflated payroll? Anyway, I digress.
The dichotomy of popularity and under performance is really somewhat proleptic here and I fear that this may lead to a self fulfilling prophecy of a continued sub-par performance in English football.
Too long have the English had false alibis to justify themselves. Too long have Spanish and Brazilian imports from second-tier teams come into the league and stood out completely from their English counterparts.
For all the fuss we make about La Liga and the Bundesliga becoming two club leagues, need I remind everyone that Santi Cazorla initially transferred from a relegation-threatened club to create wonders in the middle of the park.
Juan Mata, Sergio Aguero, Jesus Navas and David Silva are all products of those lowly teams that lack competitive edge.
Luiz Gustavo, like many others such as Gonzalo Higuain preferred to play for a 'lower club' than to play at Arsenal. Afterall, wasn't it Manchester United, the league's most celebrated club, that were defeated by Athletic Bilbao not too long ago?
Come on England... It's time to step your game up!
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