Matchday five saw some incredible numbers at the Barclays Premier League last weekend.
Debutants Anthony Martial and Kelechi Iheanacho scored on their respective debuts, with Iheanacho’s goal proving to be the winner for Manchester City against Crystal Palace.
Chelsea lost 3-1 to Everton at Goodison Park as Steven Naismith notched the first treble of his career. The defending champions' loss to Everton makes it their worst start since 1988 and the second worst start to a title defence, the first being Blackburn 1994/95.
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Amongst all these stats, the most damning, yet ignored number came from the Manchester United vs Liverpool match, where for the first time in this fixture’s history, neither side were able to field an academy player with Paddy McNair, the only youth player available from both sides, was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s loss to United.
The Manchester United – Liverpool rivalry have more in common than just a number of trophies to their names, both sides have developed a long and proud list of youth academy players. The likes of the ‘Class of 92’, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher are some of the proudest youth academy names.
In 1992, English players made up 76% of starters, currently that figure has dropped down to less that 31%, as told further by Goal. The drop in that figure can be attributed to the fact that the quality of English players have receded over the years and England’s top flight clubs now find it necessary to invest in foreign players just to survive.
The core problem here is that clubs are now searching for outside talent to keep improving as they find young English players incompetent. FA Chairman Greg Dyke set up a commission in October 2013 to investigate why the number of English players in the Premier League is falling.
As mentioned in the report by Greg Dyke, ‘’clubs have young players, but they just can’t get playing time.’’ Dyke set up a commission in October 2013 to investigate why the number of English players in the Premier League is falling.
The English National Football team has failed to reach further than the quarter-finals in any major International tournament since the 1996 Euros.
Even with a squad, which was touted as the ‘Golden Generation’, which contained the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen, England have consistently failed to live up to its potential.
This disappointment has continued onto the 2010’s with England unable to make it out of the group stage and their poor performance at major international tournaments will persist due to club’s lack of ability to produce and maintain its young stars.
Jack Wilshere is a good example, after joining the Arsenal Academy at age 9, Wilshere has gone on to become a fan's favorite since making his debut in 2008, but injuries and competition have slowed him down making limited appearances for the Gunners. Jack featured sporadically for the North London side during the 2014-15 season, and was even deployed as a winger on occasions, with Spaniard Santi Cazorla playing in the central position alongside Francis Coquelin.
Jack Rodwell is another instance, announcing himself after scoring against Manchester United at Goodison Park, he moved to Manchester City for £12m in 2012. Cited as a future Three Nations star, Jack Rodwell found his chances hard to come by at the Etihad Stadium competing with stars such as Yaya Toure and Fernandinho preferred ahead of the England international. Jack Rodwell is currently plying his trade at Sunderland and now, at age 24 has just 3 international caps to his name, the last of which came in 2013 against Brazil.
Managers like Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho provided English football with records that may never be witnessed again. Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles side is a feat that is practically impossible to accomplish in the Premier League today. While both these managers can count themselves among the best, their methods and practices have contributed to the decline of quality English players.
Wenger became the first manager in Premier League history to field an entirely foreign squad. Jose Mourinho has been accused of being in search for just immediate glory and not keeping the future of the team in mind, by purchasing foreign players instead of grooming his young players for the future.
In fairness to both managers, English players have been seen making consistent appearances for Mourinho's squad in the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry and Arsene Wenger has consistently been accused of holding too much faith in his young and homegrown players and not purchasing where necessary.
The main conundrum here is that number of English and homegrown players playing for the top English teams isn't high enough. This has led to other teams to follow suit and purchase foreign players rather than invest in their young players to survive in the Premier League. Managers constantly dread that they might get the sack based if not able to produce results and hence have to look for immediate results rather than look at long-term goals.
While money, managers and the clubs unforgiving attitude has led to a decline in homegrown talent, English fans must be able to point a finger to themselves as well. Fans constantly demand better investments and immediate performances from their team, and while they are justified in demanding so, they must understand the cost at what their demands will be fulfilled.
While England has never failed to put up a star-studded squad, they performances in the last decade or so have been dismal and the future looks bleak. Changes have been suggested and are looking to be implemented by Greg Dyke, as reported by the Telegraph, such as changing the age restriction of a homegrown player, meaning they must be registered at a club for three years before their 18th birthday as opposed to their 21st birthday.
These suggested changes need to be refined and clubs need to come to a consensus for the sake of English football or the national side may face further disappointments at international tournaments.
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