English football is defiantly protected by its many followers, and rightly so at times.
Yet this summer is a massive one for the home nation of football. This summer has to see England realise the needs to succeed in European football. No longer can we sit back and claim that we have the most entertaining league in the world, only to see our most successful clubs fall on the continent.
No longer can we sit back with rumours circulating of bids from our most successful clubs of mediocre players from inside the league.
No longer can we use ‘proven Premier League player’ as a reason for our club’s purchase of a player who is simply less talented than that of Germany, Spain or Italy.
In recent years, we have looked at English football and realised that the international side has deteriorated from the side that won… nothing.
For that reason, the Football Association has blamed the increase in foreign players. Yet why, then, did England’s national side fail to win anything between the years 1966 and 1992, when the Premier League was known as Division One and foreign players were a mystery.
There is no well-known answer for that but no one looks at it because they think the hugely talented European and South American players are the reason behind the failures of our football team.
The reason that England have failed on the international level is poor management. Think about the ‘golden generation’ of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard. They won nothing. They could have done under different management.
So, now it’s time for English football to accept that the purchasing of the best players in the world, the foreign players, is the right thing to do.
On Thursday, Liverpool had a £10 million bid rejected for Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne. The same club are rumoured to be in for Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke. Meanwhile, both Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are interested in Danny Ings.
Why are these three clubs, those needing rejuvenating, not spending the money everyone knows they have on players like Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Gonzalo Higuain or Edinson Cavani.
The reason is that there is a mentality in this country that foreign players are a worse asset than the English Ings because they are what they are, foreign. Instead the mentality should be that these players are what they are, talented.
An English club hasn’t been in a Champions League final since 2011/12. Compare this to the period of 2004-2009 when there were 6 English teams in 5 seasons’ worth of Champions League finals.
What is even more telling is that no English side reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League this season, and neither did any side in 2012/13. Compare this to the period of 1997-2012 where there was an English quarter-finalist in every single season.
Meanwhile out of the last 29 European trophies since 2005/06, England have won just 4. Spain have won 16.
This brings us onto the Europa League debate.
Why does no English team make an effort in the UEFA Europa League? The only English side to win the tournament in the last decade is Chelsea in 2013. How did they win it? By putting out a full strength side every Thursday night.
Now, if English clubs want to avoid the traditional winning drought after Europa League matches, as Spurs have seen this season, there is a solution.
The solution is to integrate your English academy players into either the Europa League starting eleven or the following Premier League starting eleven. Not only does this give you the opportunity to win something, provide your players with that experience. It gives younger players the chance to experience a European game, it gives them game time on the real stage and it can provide the solution of English players not getting the chance to prove themselves at big clubs.
The monetary rewards are huge for the Europa League as well, there is a base fee for entry in the group stage of €1,300,000 while a victory earns you €200,000. Winning the tournament earns you €5,000,000, imagine the benefits of that plus TV money. Along with the cash money TV industry, the losing finalist gets €2,500,000 while a semi-final appearance grabs you €1,000,000.
To conclude, it is time English football to realise foreign players are not the problem. Younger players may struggle to get through but if you want English clubs to be successful again, as they have been in 1999, 2005, 2008 and 2012 recently, foreign players are the answer.
Foreign players are the best in the world and on occasion you might get your Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson or Joe Hart. But for clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United who want to regain their status as the best clubs in Europe, it is not Danny Ings who is the answer, it is time to look at the top scorer in La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A or Ligue 1.
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