Manchester City clinched their second Premier League title in three years on Sunday, scoring more than 100 goals in the process. Nevertheless it was an achievement described as 'pretty depressing' by FA Chairman Greg Dyke.
The comments were reported in The Independent before City defeated West Ham on the final day of the season to seal the championship. In his latest assault on the number of foreign players in the Premier League Dyke stated: “The Premiership has been brilliant. But I think there are probably two [regular] England players at City and two or three at Chelsea. That's pretty depressing.”
Dyke's lament comes days after the report published by his FA Commission into the problems in English football argued a lack of success for England at international level was owed to too many foreigners in the Premier League and not enough playing opportunities for 'English boys' in the top six clubs.
While avid supporters of the England team may nod along in agreement with the FA Chairman, those representing clubs at the top of the Premier League may argue there simply isn't the depth of quality English players to go around. Remember the interests of these clubs (and this season's top three are all exclusively owned by foreign nationals) is their own success in competitions like the Premier League and Champions League, not the England team.
When you look at the top teams in the Premier League are there enough genuine like for like English replacement for the foreign players? Are there even many England-qualified players outside the top six clubs who genuinely deserve a place among the elite? With the exception of Southampton's duo Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw it's a struggle finding suitable candidates – and even these two may find themselves among this season's top three if transfer rumours are fulfilled.
In addition the problem the top clubs have is acquiring the top English-players. Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has argued “it is not easy to buy English players”. He said: “If you want to buy a player from Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea, I don't know how much it would cost and I am sure those teams would not sell to us.”
Pellegrini's statement raises two issues: firstly, what has long been considered the inflated premium placed on English (or British) players compared to a player of similar calibre that can be acquired abroad. Secondly, Pellegrini implicitly states he does not believe there is a great deal of quality English players outside the clubs mentioned.
While the FA Commissioner's report may attempt to offer a solution to the latter, the existence of the former will make it even more difficult for anything less than the very best talent securing non-Bosman transfers to the Premier League's elite, especially with the restrictions of Fifa's Financial Fair Play likely to put the squeeze on spending in the transfer market.
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