By Tony Attwood
If you are a regular reader of Untold you must be sick to death of me referring back to the article I wrote five years ago about why England is so rubbish as an international football team.
I refer back to it because it is evidence based, it shows in clear stats what English football does wrong, and no one has contradicted it since. Indeed the Telegraph actually took my figures and re-ran the article to reach the same conclusions without acknowledgement two years ago. And just because other people without any evidence keep coming up with different explanations that does not reduce the effectiveness of the original analysis.
Here’s the latest from the Telegraph:
The clamour for Premier League success and obtaining Champions League football means the best teams in this country are damaging the chances of the national team. Developing English players is so far from their priorities these days.
As Gary Neville noted after he and Hodgson had sat down to make their squad selections last week, they had only 61 starting English players to look at over that weekend. That equates to around 27 per cent of the Premier League.
So who is at fault? Is it the FA that has so utterly and totally failed to invest in coaching, just as it has absolutely failed to invest in grass roots football? Or is it Arsenal?
No. It is Arsenal’s fault. Because as Alistair Tweedale wrote in the Telegraph a few days back, “Over the past five seasons, Arsenal have handed only 17.6 per cent of the available Premier League game time to English players; a lower proportion than any other ever-present club.”
Now there’s a spot of irony here, because following the failure of FA, in terms of wasting money on bidding for a fixed world cup, kowtowing to some of the most corrupt and unpleasant men on the planet, bowing down to Platini and offering him the FA’s unconditional vote to become Fifa President, all while making a huge number of people in the FA redundant because of their own mismanagement of funding, the Premier League are being asked to step up and basically pay for grass roots football.
And now the Telegraph has the temerity to suggest that we should bias the teams in favour of English players!
Interestingly the FA are not asking (via the government) the Premier League to pay for running the England team – but then, if the FA don’t have to worry about anything else, and can slosh money around the Fifa camp as much as they like, they don’t need the Premier League.
Except as something to blame for the failure of England.
So, being always ready to kick Arsenal any time the opportunity turns up, the Telegraph, in the form of Tweedale published this concept:
Percentage of mins played by Englishmen – Premier League last 5 seasons
|West Bromwich Albion||29.4|
|West Ham United||46.3|
“That rate is at its lowest this season, with just over a tenth of Arsenal’s minutes played by Englishmen,” bellows the misled and misleading Tweedale.
Now Tweedale has the grace to admit that “Arsene Wenger has shown increased faith in Theo Walcott as his lone striker” but then adds “the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are really struggling to find a way into the first eleven.
“The highly-rated Calum Chambers, too, has seen his playing time extremely limited this season, while injury continues to scupper the progress of Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck.”
So that’s it then. Wenger is anti-English. He probably personally crocked Jack and Danny too.
And that’s why he keeps playing Ozil, when he’s so utterly rubbish, and only gets into the PL team of the week by mistake?
The writer known as Tweedale continues …
“This season Arsenal’s English contingent have played for just 844 minutes, equating to less than 10 full appearances. Only Newcastle (828 minutes) have given less time to players available to Hodgson.”
Mins played by English players – Premier League 2015/16
|Team||Eng Min Pld||English pos||Lge pos.|
|West Bromwich Albion||2188||10||17|
|West Ham United||2801||8||12|
Now according to the Telegraph’s perverted logic
That Theo Walcott has not become England’s first choice striker in the nine years since Wenger urged Sven-Goran Eriksson to take a 17-year-old Walcott to the 2006 World Cup hints that the Arsenal manager has not developed him enough.
You might want to read that through twice.
Now go back to the table above. There is no relationship between the position a club holds in the “Englishness” league table and the position in the actual league table. Man City are top of the league, and 13th in Englishness. Bournemouth are top of the Englishness table but 15th in the league.
On the other hand some clubs manage to get a similar position in the Englishness table and in the league table. Chelsea are 18th and 16th respectively. Palace are 3rd and 4th. Tottenham are 6th and 5th.
It is all random. There is there is zero relationship between the number of minutes an English player gets in the league and the club’s position in the league. Clearly something else is happening.
Maybe it’s… oh, what could it be?
Managerial Talent? Investment by sponsors?
But of course the Telegraph’s motto is never to let reality and the facts interfere with a good story. Although to be fair they add that Man U lost the title having given English players 44.6 per cent of the campaign, then regained the league 12 months later with English players on the pitch 38.6 per cent of the time. The paper then publishes this table
% of minutes given to English players by top six
(Note that is obviously the top six last season. Chelsea clearly don’t qualify this season, snigger snigger).
|Premier League season||Arsenal||Chelsea||Liverpool||Man City||Man Utd||Tottenham|
And the Telegraph concludes…
There is an obvious and worrying trend of decline amongst each of last season’s top six clubs, as the above graph shows.
The home-grown quota encourages teams to select players eligible for England but ultimately just drives up their transfer value and dissuades managers from choosing to purchase them.
And at last we have a newspaper saying what lots of us have been trying to establish for ages. That the quota system (the fact that English teams have to have a certain number of home grown players in the “25” squad) doesn’t actually encourage the playing of English players. All it does is drive up the prices of English players and so reduces their chances of getting a transfer.
True enough, except the Telegraph then spoils it all by saying,
It is not clear what the solution is,
at which point I ran out of the room screaming. Eventually I came back and said “the point is, drop the ’25’.”
At least until I read
Those in charge of the biggest clubs in England retain a duty to develop the best players and aid the progress of the national team.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, etc.
Arsenal has a duty to its shareholders and supporters. To the people who keep the team running. To you and me as Arsenal supporters. It has absolutely NO duty to the national team nor international football in any regard.
This sort of trivial gibberish is what has led readers of Untold and many other supporters of the teams near the top of the league to call this week the “interlull”. It is a boring and horrible interruption to our entertainment, which we invest in by watching football personally, or following in on TV.
The fact that the press still hasn’t got our utter disdain and dislike of international football reflect primarily on their intellectual prowess and then on their ability to do market research.
Anniversaries from the early days…
- 10 October 1896: A 5-1 home defeat to Millwall Athletic showed that even three years into their league career, Arsenal were not automatic top dogs in the area.
- 10 October 1903: J G “Tim” Coleman set a club record in scoring in each of the first 6 league matches – getting nine goals in all.
Arsenal in the summer – 48 tales from the Pre-Season files. Here are the latest…
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
- How much have Arsenal’s rivals spent on transfers in recent years?
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?