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Want a better England team? Let England play in the Premier League!

A Possible Solution for the Perennial Club v Country Conundrum

by Andrew Crawshaw

So ‘some players don’t want to play for their country, preferring to save their energy for the clubs who pay their wages’ – according to ‘Arry at least.

We all know the times players have gone on to represent their country and have come back broken.  In some cases costs have been paid by the National Association, but they are unlikely to have met all of the costs incurred by the parent club.

We are also told that ‘there are too many overseas players in the Premier League preventing the emergence of talented English players’.  This of course over-simplifies the situation as other countries have the same problem without it affecting the performance of their National Squad, as Walter showed with his piece on Belgium.

The FA seem incapable of organising “refreshments in a brewery” let alone a football team.

These are just a few threads that I have picked up from the Media in its widest sense over the past few weeks.

I would like to propose a solution to the Club v Country question – at least for England.

The FA should be given a permanent place for an England team in the Premier League so they would be exempt from relegation issues.

That team would be paid for entirely by the FA, meeting all wages, training costs etc out of the FA budget.  They already have a 90,000 seater stadium, and purpose built training facilities so they would have a decent income from matchday revenue, TV income, merchandising, sponsorship etc.

I would not be in favour of allowing the national team to play in Champions / Europa League matches which should be reserved for traditional clubs, but they would certainly be able to play the usual international friendlies etc..  I would allow them to compete for the Premier League title, but not for the two Cup competitions.

So where would the FA get their players from?

  • In the short term this would have to be via a loan system from the Premier League clubs, say one player over 21 from each club and a further player in the 18-21 age range.  The FA would notify the clubs at the start of the summer transfer window of the names of the players they required and the clubs would not have the right to refuse the players requested, but would be able to recruit additional non ‘home grown’ players as replacements.  These loans would be for a minimum of a full season, but could be for longer.  By agreement between the FA and an individual Club additional players could be loaned over and above the enforced allocation.
  • In the longer term, The FA should seek to recruit younger players throughout all age ranges, to it’s own academy and become self sustaining, buying and selling on the open market.

Advantages

  1. The FA team would have an established squad, who would play together on a weekly basis
  2. Depending on the number of friendlies, the FA The team would play fewer games than any other Premier League so players should be fresher.
  3. The clubs would know at the start of the transfer window which players they were going to lose for the following year and would be able to plan suitable reinforcements.
  4. The Premium price clubs have to pay for home grown talent should be reduced.

Disadvantages

  1. Political – would the clubs actually let such a radical proposal be accepted, particularly those clubs who currently don’t lose players to the National Team
  2. An extra team in the Premier League will increase the number of fixtures to be played, unless an extra team needs to be relegated (or not promoted from the Championship) which passes the problem further down the ladder

I’m sure the “Untolders” will add greatly to the advantages/disadvantages and I won’t be too upset if you think the whole idea is preposterous, it is merely a thought.

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35 comments to Want a better England team? Let England play in the Premier League!

  • Robl

    Well done Andrew, I love it.
    Also I’d so love to see how the FA academy progressed with such skillful coaching talents as Wilkinson and Mills at their disposal.
    Go team Dyke! (no, really go away).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Andrew – While I don’t think it to be preposterous , it may not be workable for a full international team .
    An under 21 or 23 side may be a better start and in a lower division .It could start off with free agents and on loan players who would get some playing time ,rather then sit on the bench.
    There have been instances where the 2nd team or team of youth have been placed in their own leagues of in other leagues in an attempt at exposure and improvement as done by the Malaysians, as in the following link-
    http://www.fam.org.my/news-articles/98-harimau-muda/607-malaysia-u23s-join-nplq

    Malaysia U23(Harimau Muda A) join NPLQ

    Malaysia will field an national Under 23 team in this year’s senior men’s National Premier Leagues Queensland competition in a revolutionary new first for football in Australia.

    The Malaysian Under 23 side, known as Harimau Muda ‘A’, will become the first international representative team to compete in an Australian football league when they take to the field in early March.

    The results so far ?

    http://www.futbol24.com/team/Malaysia/Harimau-Muda/

  • wam

    so each team would lose their best English player for no fee? That’ll catch on.

    How about instead we get English players to play in Spain, Italy, Germany, Brazil, France? That way they can understand the foreign mindset, and maybe learn something.

  • oldgroover

    God almighty, this world cup is bringing out the daftness of “what England needs” solutions

  • blacksheep63

    I hope Greg Dyke doesn’t need Untold Andrew,he is just about daft enough to go for this!
    The solution lies, not in manipulating the PL or football league system, but in recruiting, training and properly remunerating an army of coaches; investing properly in grass roots football; encouraging young footballers to do skills training at school and in clubs (rather than endless 11 a side matches); sacking most of the FA board and replacing them with people that actually know how to play the game; and taking all the football journalists out for a very long drive in the Sicilian countryside …
    but nice provocative article

  • Lishman

    I understand England already play in the league, pretty sure the home ground is Anfield

  • blacksheep63

    sorry ‘read’ not ‘need’ Andrew! (everyone NEEDS Untold)

  • roy

    i agree Wam we buy a player then he plays for England all year so exactly why would we buy him? secondly Cream always rises to the top if English players are good enough even if no room in the premiership there are 10 more plus countries they can ply their trade in

  • bob mac

    There is little doubt that the English players do not have the qualities required at top level, check recent WC performances if you disagree.

    Replacing foreign players in the PL with English players would mean diluting the quality of the PL as it already has the best players that England can produce.

    Unlike most countries, there are NONE of our top national players performing abroad.

    I wonder why.

    Probably, they are not good enough.

  • Ludajr

    Yeah Liverpool you say, but their top striker was Suarez, Sturbridge look good coz everyone was worried of Suarez so gave him space ( not that good to pay that much attention) but typical of Liverpool they bottled it up when it matter. So no surprise England did the same thing. All they did, defender to midfield, midfield to defender then long diagonal ball to striker. That how they play, come to think about it, so did Liverpool.
    But you know why they don’t play abroad (English player) not much club will pay they over inflated prices for been English and they be found out… Lack of technical skills.

  • Robl

    @ wam, I’d personally drive our best English player over to their centre of ignorance if it meant forcing them to keep their grubby mits off of the rest of our player’s. We would then get regular international breaks, and summers off to recuperate.

  • nicky

    There must be a reason why many (if not most) followers of the topmost EPL clubs have little interest in the progress of our national team. For some years now, club loyalty has overtaken national pride.
    The importation of foreign stars and coaches may be one reason for the decline, although one would expect that their talents would be of benefit to the UK-born players.
    In many sports it is said that the inaugurating country is often successfully overtaken by those who have later learnt from it and this would certainly appear to be the case in the professional game, for some time now.
    A general demise in the success of the UK national teams is
    unequivocal. Rarely do Scotland qualify for the World Cup and Northern Ireland and Wales even less so.
    In the last decade or so, the continuing grotesquely obscene rises in the wages of top footballers in the UK may be one reason. This has resulted in a vast improvement in exceedingly comfortable living standards and futures, but without any real need for enhancement in ability.Foreign signings appear to come to Britain for much higher wages and wish to demonstrate their worth.
    In some way the quality of UK football must be improved to match, more nearly, that of the competition. I say “improved” not “regained” because we have never been that good globally.
    We cannot turn the clock back, but”a hungry footballer is an inspired one”.
    A real improvement would restore some national pride, although at the moment I find this somewhat difficult to contemplate.

  • ARSENAL 13

    The problem for england is the media hype around any above avg english player. The manager is arm-twisted to pick the popular choice. This WC season it was Henderson, Gerrard etc etc. And that coupled with the injuries to Jack, Ox and Theo…..well I hope they remain “not good enough” to play for the national team, oops..

    Not so long ago ARSENAL just couldnt fit in english players as they were not good enough to play the game as Mr Wenger wanted to. BUT the increase in number of young englishmen in ARSENAL squad is a marker of changing times.

  • colario

    1) The reason why out best players do not play in other leagues is because Premium League Clubs pay better than clubs in other leagues with the possible exception of a certain well known few.

    2) English football skill is ‘kick, punch, butt, crunch the player. In other words control the player. After that play the ball – if you can reach it.

    3 Game officials including refs scoff skill on the ball as ‘softening the game up’, and we don’t want that in English football do we? So any English player with ball skill who managers
    to break the English mode is to be kicked/ manhandled off the park.

    3) Other national players do foul but they are taught ball control which in the English coaches mind set is for nanncies and whimps.

    The idea suggested here is original, possible or impossible is irrelevent its not the answer to problem.

    We need a culture that believes in ‘skillful football’ not ‘thug football’. Until the culture changes to ‘skillful football’ we will remain the laughing stock of football.

  • Mandy Dodd

    This England team would be improved if it took players from the championship, leagues 1,2 or even the conference or whatever it is now called.
    Personally, I think we should find a team of hungry foreigners to play under a shirt of convenience, as we did with Zola budd, Greg rudetski, and a host of rugby and cricket players with varying success, but that is perhaps because I have very little interest in England.
    When you see refereeing and fixing like we saw against Colombia, and the unfortunate Neymar last night, nobody could really blame our top EPL players not bothering about playing for England, …..actually, then again, thinking about the refs in our league

  • jambug

    Yesterday SSN was still banging on about too many Foreigners in the PL.

    Rolling out any number of talking Heads prepared to perpetuate the view of the ‘pesky Foreigners’ being to blame.

    I admit I wasn’t watching all day but unless someone tells me otherwise I doubt very much whether we had anybody decrying the fact we have on average about ONE QUARTER (if that in some cases) the amount of qualified youth coaches that many of our European counterparts have.

    or the loss of playing fields

    or the lack of investment at grass roots level.

    or the money tossed up the wall on fruitless, utterly misguided, World Cup bids.

    The list goes on.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if any of those points got any more than a passing reference I’ll be amazed.

    Vested interests? Heads in sand? Stupidity? Corruption? Greed? Self serving?

    Whatever, everything I hear on the TV or Radio, or from the very little I read in the papers it seems to me nothing is going to change any time soon.

  • oldgroover

    Jambug

    Everyone’s got a solution, but nobody knows the answer.

  • nicky

    @colario,
    This may sound a bit girly but I wonder whether a competition of “touch football” might be prove to be a return to the more niceties of the game.

  • jambug

    oldgroover

    Surely acquiring a decent amount of youth level coaches would be a good place to start.

    Seems so obvious to me, and many others on here, that I find it mind boggling the powers that be cant see it.

    Maybe the sad reality is they just don’t want to see it.

  • Tom

    The problem with England national team has more to do with a problem of identity and the right style of play rather than the lack of talent of individual players. If you look at national teams of countries like the USA, Greece, or Costa Rica, you would be hard pressed to find one player in those three aforementioned squads who would be able to make England squad on talent and ability alone, yet they seem to overachieve the expectations while England does the opposite.

    What England needs more than anything is a forward thinking manager like Jurgen Klinsmann who has enough gravitas to get respect of players but also enough charisma and back bone to pick his own team and not worry about the FA or the media.

    When I watched this England team play I didn’t see an inspired group of players fighting for each other in the single minded cause and belief but rather a group of semi confused talented individuals trying not to embarrass themselves and the country. Roy Hodgson may be a proper English gentleman but I have a hard time imagining him inspiring anybody .

  • Micheal Ram

    I think this topic is discussed again and again since the day England failed to defend their World Cup in Mexico. Keep blaming everybody but themselves for their own mistakes, stupidity, mediocrity and arrogance. I guess that’s the reason some gentlemen broke away from this bubble centuries ago and formed USA. And just look how far they have come and performed admirably at this World Cup. Perhaps they should swallow their misplaced pride and seek foreign help to resurface their fortunes. Maybe frequent visits to the Emirates and study how Arsene Wenger manage Arsenal as a club and as a brand. Since the national team players usually trains at Arsenal, that won’t be so hard.

  • jambug

    Tom

    Very true. It certainly seems that what little talent we do have massively underachieves at every tournament.

    But having said that, I do think it runs a lot deeper than just having the right manager.

    I mean, how many managers, with good track records, have we had that have spectacularly failed to get anything like the best out of what we do have?

    I feel the fundamental point remains that there just isn’t a large enough pool of young, talented kids, coming out of the schools, youth Clubs and junior football.

    And that is a direct result of a lack of good coaching.

    THAT is the undeniable, unavoidable truth of the matter.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree with many of your points Tom. Roy is just not a successful manager, his limit is probably west brom or Fulham. He is an old school FA suit, with probably more coaching badges than Klinsmann, and the Colombia, costs rica managers combined, but little else. If the FA wanted us to do well, or at least better in terms of getting performances out of those players, they would have appointed Arry, warts and all. This is the same FA that effectively got rid of Venables, Hoddle and even Robson when they were starting to make progress. There is an old school mafia within the FA, and Hodgson, as well as the youth development coaches like john beck and adie boothroyd all fit the bill perfectly, cautious, negative , kick and rush long ball merchants with no significant track record of success. Hodgson may try to vary his style of play from time to time under media, and perhaps player pressure,but he cannot escape,what he is.
    I would rather watch Stoke than England.
    The FA got what they fully deserved this summer, though I do have a bit of sympathy for some of they players, and it can see why some would be tempted not to bother.

  • menace

    I have commented on some of the tackles in football and in particular in English football where skill is destroyed early by the ‘in yer face’ challenges.

    The use of the knee in the back (or front) of the thigh leads to hamstring tears. The World cup has been flooded with knee tackles. The two most noticed brutal tackles are that on Neymar (knee in the lower back) and the Song elbow. The elbow drew a red card but the knee was ignored by the poor officials. FIFA need to address the tackle and punish the assault appropriately.

    In English football there is no skill training with bear feet. This is important for touch and kicking technique. The foot has amazing leverage when used correctly and some of the goals scored in the World Cup are because of natural use of leverage. Most of the skilled players have played the game bare foot at some stage to improve their technique. The Futsal players also have advantage because of close control with NO BRUTALITY.

  • AL

    menace
    Spot on. One of the best talents at this year’s WC, Riodriguez, has come out and said he doesn’t fancy a move to the PL because its very physical, but would rather go to Spain when he leaves Monaco. Talent is not recognized here, and brawn without brains rules.

  • jambug

    menace

    Last nights injury to Neymar was a direct result of a referee letting thuggery go unpunished ‘a la’ the way things are systematically allowed to go unpunished against us in the PL, with the same inevitable results.

    Only on this occasion it backfired spectacularly on the intended beneficiaries of this particular bout of benevolence.

    To me it was patently obvious that the ref was under specific instructions NOT to book any Brazilian players if at all possible because so many (5 I believe) where already on a yellow and therefore in imminent danger of missing the next game, should they progress.

    The way the game was going it was inevitable that somebody would get seriously hurt and to be honest I cant say I’m sorry it was a Brazilian because as far as I could see they where getting away with murder.

    Karma is such a wonderful thing.

  • Tom

    Jambug
    I’m not familiar with English football infrastructure and youth programs to have an opinion so I’ll take your word for it but I am familiar with Poland’s – having gone through it’s system and the USA’s – having sent my sons through theirs.

    Poland had a very successful football program and other sport discipline as well when a communist government subsidized it heavily ,plucking talented kids out and sending them to specialty schools at age 8 to 12 often times to different cities if kids were talented enough .
    With the fall of communism in Poland the money dried up and the entire infrastructure collapsed . When Leo Beenhakker took Poland’s job in 2006, one of the first things he said about Polish football was how poor the infrastructure was and how he wouldn’t have walked his dog on pitches Polish youth played on for the fear of his dog breaking his legs. So yes , infrastructure is a problem if that’s the case in England.

    But there’s no infrastructure problem in the US , where most high schools and even elementary schools have decent pitches and there’s no shortage of coaching . The problem the US soccer has is rather that contrary to popular belief soccer in the US is an elite sport and if you want your kids to have the best coaching at premier soccer academies , it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars per year .I don’t believe there’s a single player in the US national team who doesn’t have a relatively wealthy background except maybe Clint Dempsey who grew up poor but had a wealthy benefactor.

    In short , all those things you mentioned are of significance in having a successful national team but the reason I gave Klinsmann’s example was to illustrate that you can get more out of average group of players if they are properly motivated and have the right attitude . Watching the US team play, one thing was more obvious than any other and it was how very little of that special something all those individual players had , yet as a team they were able to make their country proud.

  • Tom

    Jambug
    I’m not familiar with English football infrastructure and it’s youth programs to have an opinion so I’ll take your word for it but I am familiar with Poland’s – having gone through it’s system and the USA’s – having sent my sons through theirs.

    Poland had a very successful football program and other sport disciplines as well when a communist government subsidized it heavily ,plucking talented kids out and sending them to specialty schools at age 8 to 12 often times to different cities if kids were talented enough .
    With the fall of communism in Poland the money dried up and the entire infrastructure collapsed . When Leo Beenhakker took Poland’s job in 2006, one of the first things he said about Polish football was how poor the infrastructure was and how he wouldn’t have walked his dog on pitches Polish youth played on for the fear of his dog breaking his legs. So yes , infrastructure could be a problem if that’s the case in England.

    But there’s no infrastructure problem in the US , where most high schools and even elementary schools have decent pitches and there’s no shortage of coaching . The problem the US soccer has ,is rather that contrary to popular belief soccer in the US is an elite sport and if you want your kids to have the best coaching at premier soccer academies , it’s going to cost you thousands of dollars per year .I don’t believe there’s a single player in the US national team who doesn’t have a relatively wealthy background except maybe Clint Dempsey who grew up poor but had a wealthy benefactor.

    In short , all those things you mentioned are of significance in having a successful national team but the reason I gave Klinsmann’s example was to illustrate that you can get more out of average group of players if they are properly motivated and have the right attitude . Watching this US team play, one thing was more obvious than any other and that was how very little of that special something all those players had individually , yet as a team they were able to make their country proud.

  • jambug

    Tom

    To be fair most, but not all of the information I pick up regarding the state of coaching in this Country is through UT.

    There was an in depth article published here quite recently that explained in some detail the respective investment into youth coaching of our European counterparts.

    I admit I didn’t ask for sources but I have faith in Untolds statistical and factual integrity.

    Maybe someone can point you in the direction of the article to which I refer and even to the source of the statistics used.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree Jambug, that ref was very very lenient on the Brazilians, but as you say it backfired, but I really feel for Neymar, one of the few in that team not behaving like a thug. A real contradiction, Brazil getting away with everything all tournament, but two refs, last nights and Howard Webb against Chile conspire to take the star player out of the tournament.
    I cannot help wondering if that was a deliberate attempt to hurt Neymar in revenge for what Brazil were getting away with on Rodriguez.
    But it was there for the world to see, lenient, biased , dodgy, incompetent refereeing leading to the poster boy leaving the tournament with a broken back. That’s what happens when refs don’t do their job, we see it week in week out with Arsenal

  • jambug

    Mandy

    “But it was there for the world to see, lenient, biased , dodgy, incompetent refereeing leading to the poster boy leaving the tournament with a broken back. That’s what happens when refs don’t do their job, we see it week in week out with Arsenal”

    Brilliantly summed up in one paragraph.

  • jambug

    Just to say, of course I feel for Neymar, but:

    Not for Brazil.

    Not for the world Cup.

    Neymar seems a decent guy and seemed to be carrying the weight of his countries expectations pretty well and did not deserve this.

    Lets hope this is a lesson, to those that need a lesson, as to how trying to ‘fix’ things to your own ends is just so so wrong on every level.

    Sadly I doubt they’ll learn a thing.

  • menace

    Mandy – beautifully put. The sad thing about lenient thuggery is that some of the best skilled players end up injured. Ramsey, Theo, Diaby, Eduardo …… The officials have a lot to answer for but our admin is absolutely blind.

    The brutes go on to become pundits and claim trophies in books!!

  • nicky

    The solution to thuggery on the football field is, IMO, simple. Match officials are either to cowardly or corrupt to act.
    The villains should be prosecuted under the law as though the assaults had taken place in the street.
    It can be done. All it needs is the will.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Guess we should also mention James Rodriguez under the category of lenient thuggery. Brazil were allowed to target him. On a level playing field…who knows, Colombia may well have won that game meaning at least one of the shining lights of pure football could survive Brazil vs Colombia, instead the refereeing meant we lost both of them in this match for the rest of the tournament.
    I really fear for ozil next game.