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England managers should stop playing into the hands of the extreme right wing

By Tony Attwood

The notion that a lack of English players in the Premier League is bad for England, bad for football, and quite probably bad for Brexit, is standard fare in terms of what England managers say.

And it is noticeable that they never give any evidence of why this is the case.  It is just argued on the basis of that most dubious of propositions: “common sense”.

OK so we are used to managers not being very bright, but those journalists who cover the story go on and on covering the story over and over, without ever questioning it – as well as without providing evidence.   Then some of those same journalists get uppity if we start believing that they are biased.  Maybe they are not.  Maybe they aren’t very bright either.

The simple fact is that journalists who don’t check the stories they run are likely to be biased, because all they have to go on is their own gut feelings.  And the neo-racist long running saga of “too many foreigners” is just that.  A scare story about foreigners, coming over here, taking places in our football teams and quite possibly stealing other things too.

And perhaps normally we could ignore this as just journalistic tripe – but at a time when increasing numbers of British voters seem to be willing to vote for far right parties which, when I have heard them, use some rather nasty anti-foreigner rhetoric, is (to me even if no one else) rather worrying.

Steve McClaren, when he was manager of England, joined in the campaign which argued that because all these foreign players kept coming into England and taking our boys’ jobs, we needed more legislation to stop them.  Then English players could get jobs playing in the Premier League.   That would, he argued, make England more likely to win the world cup.

What struck me about that argument was that it would also diminish the value of the Premier League, the quality of play would get lower and lower, and so English players playing in the Premier League would be used to a lower standard, and England would get knocked out the world cup even earlier than usually happens.

So because of this dichotomy it was then interesting to see McClaren sign Georgino Wijnaldum from the Netherlands, Aleksandar Mitrovic from Serbia and Chancel Mbemba from the Congo.  Now why did he do that?

Could it be that he learned something when he was at FC Twente and brought in Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica) and Miroslav Stoch (Slovakia)?  No, surely if he believed that countries should have their nationals playing in their own league he would have been buying Dutch players!

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The research as to what it is that influences the success of countries in the world cup and other international affairs is fairly simple.  It took me one summer weekend nine years ago and was then published in Untold .  It has since been republished (without acknowledgement) in the Daily Telegraph in August 2013.

Now we hear that Gareth Southgate thinks that only 15% of players in the Premier League will be “English” enough to play for England in ten years time, unless the PL clubs stop picking the best players in the world, and instead pick players according to where they, or their parents, or their grandparents, were born, or were nationalised to.

And apparently only 30% of the players starting PL games in 2018/19 were eligible through the convoluted rules, to play for England, compared with  33.2% in 2017-18.   While those dastardly top six clubs are even worse at this with only 19.9% of players starting games being true blue Englishmen, or at least having grandmothers who stopped over to give birth.

“We’ve got to arrest the slide,” Southgate warned without giving any evidence as to why.  And of course he could not because there isn’t any.  Yet he tried to make it look like he had used research, and of course the journalists – the one’s who like to laugh at us because we think they are biased, bought it hook line and whatnot.

“The big concern for me is this graph continues to fall away and that we end up in 10 years’ time with an England manager who has got 15% of the league to choose from. Why would that not happen? It is a big danger for us.”

And what of other countries?  Is that not happening there as our incredibly rich top six go on buying and buying?  Does it not affect other localities if PSG and Man City can buy other countries’ best players as and when they like?

Oh – yes – it must affect everyone.  But the journalists never thought to ask about that.  (Which is one good reason to believe they are biased – because it is either that or they are stupid and either way we should not believe them)

And then we see the real silliness of all this.  One article put it thus:

“When it was put to Southgate that, if an English player was good enough, he would succeed regardless, he shook his head. ‘That’s not quite right. Some of the lads are getting through and it’s by chance rather than it’s been plotted,’ he said.”

And how do we know that the English qualified players get through by chance and the nasty foreign devils get through by some dastardly plan?  Ah, he didn’t say.  And oh, the journalist forgot to ask.  And journalists have the temerity to criticise us????

Even more hilarious was this one in the Guardian:

Southgate’s solution is for “grown-up conversations” between the Premier League, Football Association and others involved in the game. And he is clear about the potential consequences if the issue is ignored. “We can’t sit back, either as a league or a national federation, and think: ‘OK, it’s all going well and so we sit,’” he said. “Because those bloody Germans, they will be doing stuff. They’re out looking at how they get better.

The area of assault is clear… and it is political…

“Brexit is offering an opportunity because there will have to be change – whether people want it or not – around work permits. But we shouldn’t also ignore the fact that we’ve got some of the top coaches in the world at our clubs. They’re helping not only to develop players but to set an example for younger coaches.”

But hang on – those coaches are quite often, well, not to put too fine a point on it… foreign.   And if we change the rules post-Brexit (whenever that is) surely that will also mean that those coaches won’t be able to come either.

You see Mr S., these things apply all round.  OK maybe Mr Boris, as our new prime minister, might agree to a rule that says “Not many foreign footballers” and then maybe he’ll say, “Foreign football coaches welcome”.  Yes that is quite possible given that it is Boris.   But there are two problems.  One is the new Prime Minister in the UK might not be as bonkers as Boris, and the other is that even if he or she is, then maybe he or she will not actually be that concerned with football.

13 comments to England managers should stop playing into the hands of the extreme right wing

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I don’t think for his being nationalistic and passionate to see the England senior national team wins the Fifa World Cup again since it last won it in 1966 when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time at the Old Wembley Stadium to lift the World Cup for the first time. But one cannot really condemned Gareth Southgate, the current England senior team squad manager. But applaud him for his boldness and insightfulness in coming out to try and sees that the ugly situation that has crept in into the English football after the formation of the English Premier League (EPL) or the PL as it is fondly called is arrested. Which as a result of the deliberate action taken by the authorities who are controlling the PL that allowed foreign players to sign for any PL club side who wants him has but the number of the foreign players signed has escalated in numbers, and this escalation is causing a negative effect that’s impacting seriously on the England senior national team in terms of high productivity output whenever England senior team plays at the World Cup tournaments. England failing to win the WC in 52 years consecutively that is being attributed to lack of enough top quality/world class English players at PL club sides to call up to play for England at the World Cup must be addressed positively with immediate effect. The scarcity of top quality or world class English players in the PL clubs where England mostly draws it’s players from for senior team games assignment is unacceptable and MUST be reviewed upward by the FA without delaying to do the upward review.

    Because of the best football being played in the Premier League in England, it’s not surprising to see Gareth Southgate preferring to call up his England players for matches from there. But I will implore him to a times look below into the Championship side club sides too where he could find one or two top quality English players to call up for England senior team matches.

    But haven observed this shortage in their numbers of top English talents available in the PL clubs for call-ups for England senior team games, i wonder, what is the 8 home-grown player rule for the PL clubs is there for? If it is not addressing the shotage in the number of English players to be called up in sufficient numbers for England senior national team, then I think the FA should make a little upward review to this rule to make it like, 5 home-grown players in each of the club sides in the PL MUST be English players by blue blood birth, or by adoption or nationalization. While the remaining 3 of the 8 that remained could be from any nation in the world. By the FA so doing, I think the England senior national team will be guaranteed a total of 5 senior/youth players at each PL club sides. And if these 5 players are multiplied by the 20 PL clubs, that will be equaled to 100 players conservatively that can be called up for the England senior team games in future. And that’re quite a great number of players for any England senior team squad manager to use. Right? If I am right, then I deserve a Kudo.

  • markyb

    English lads by chance not plotted?, Southgate is a bellend, a puppet bellend.

  • Jezzy

    I don’t understand why no-one seems to realise that these homegrown rules only serve to massively inflate the transfer fees of English players, which usually means only the big clubs can pay for them, which further means that they will most probably get less playing time than if they were at a slightly smaller club.

  • markyb

    And of course putting them on the pitch magically transforms their technical ability etc just by being on there and Ingerlish.

  • Andy Mack

    Neo-Nazi…. Really Tony. You’re starting to sound like a blinkered Guardian reader.
    Confusing Nationalism (like Ghandi and Mandela) with racism.

    Basically anyone that isn’t Far Left-wing is a right-wing extremist according to the Guardian, since the recent polarisation of the media towards politics.

    Southgate is an average championship level manager who got the job because the FA wanted someone that would stop the embarrassing losses, even if the standard of play wasn’t particularly notable and we’d never win the European or World cup with him.
    He’s done that (and been really lucky as well) but likes making up excuses for his lack of ability, but no one with any sense believes him.
    Move on, no story here, move along.

  • Jezzy

    markyb “And of course putting them on the pitch magically transforms their technical ability etc just by being on there and Ingerlish” – Yeah, you’re totally right, because playing regular minutes in extremely competitive PL matches isn’t going to improve a player at all more than if they were just sitting on the bench, right?

    I just want to clarify; you are honestly saying that you don’t believe playing competitive matches week in week out has any effect whatsoever on improving a player? You honestly believe that? Comparing any potential improvements to “magic” lol…

  • Gord

    A player that is capable of technical play, playing minutes in a competitive league with an abundance of technical players will probably improve in technical ability. But then again, such a player just practicing with technical players will probably also improve (but likely not as much as playing).

    A player that lives by “fouling” will likely not improve technically as much by playing against skilled, technical players. They may learn how to foul those players more effectively.

    Whether they get called for the fouling depends on:
    _1. whether the officials see the fouls,
    _2. whether the officials call the fouls.
    If officials are loathe to call fouls against certain teams, then a player who is “good” at fouling may have value playing against players who are technically skilled.

  • omgarsenaL

    The only solid evidence that could more or less ¨solve¨this old meme would be:

    1) To compare results when the 1st division and then the EPL had the highest percentage of ¨English¨ players and see how the teams composed of English players fared in international competitions, and or

    2) compare the results of EPL teams with the highest percentage of English players versus those with the highest percentage of foreign born players.

    This would go a long way to proving one way or the other, how banning foreign born players from the EPL would either improve the English team, leave it at the same level or cause a decline.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ omgarsenal – If we take the 1966 WC win as the pinnacle of English football, there weren’t too many foreign players at that time . When I started to follow English football in season 1971-72 , Clyde Best of West Ham was probably the only one that comes to my mind.

    But the absence of foreign players did not improve the English national team if we look at their subsequent WC and UEFA European Championship form, upto the era of the EPL.

    Here is the 30 year record started and ended in England .
    -1966 – WC – Champions
    -1968 – UEFA EC – England were third out of the 4 teams competing.
    -1970 – WC – Quarterfinals.
    -1972 – UEFA EC- Did not qualify
    -1974 – WC – Did not qualify
    -1976 – UEFA EC – Did not qualify
    -1978 – WC – Did not qualify
    -1980 – UEFA EC – First round
    -1982 – WC – Second round
    -1984- UEFA EC – Did not qualify
    -1986 – WC – Quarter finals
    -1988 – UEFA EC – First round
    -1990 – WC – Fourth
    -1992 – UEFA EC – First round
    -1994 -WC -Did not qualify
    -1996 – UEFA EC -Semi finals.

    The the trickle of foreign players started in the late seventies . Vladimir Petrović , in 1982 , I believe was our first foreign player.

    I have conveniently stopped just before the appearance of our ‘messiah’ to the EPL , and whom probably the subsequent influx was attributed !

  • markyb

    A player not good enough is seldom going to become good enough simply by being thrown in the deep end because of his home nationality.

  • Zedsaunt

    Andy Mack posts

    ””Basically anyone that isn’t Far Left-wing is a right-wing extremist according to the Guardian, since the recent polarisation of the media towards politics.”

    This is nonsense mate. Even in the age of Brexit there is a huge centre that takes millions of views, look at last week’s election results.

    Andy Mack posts

    ”Neo-Nazi…. Really Tony. You’re starting to sound like a blinkered Guardian reader.”

    Where are the words’ Neo-Nazi….”in the above post?

  • Andy Mack

    Zedsaunt, The text has been changed. It was there.

    That’s my point about there being a large (majority) centre but the predominantly left leaning media doesn’t think (or reflect) that. They label everyone that isn’t far left as far right.
    It’s also true that the much smaller right leaning media can make the opposite assertion, but generally they’re much less polarised in their view of others so many of them don’t label everyone that isn’t far right as far left.