The premier league is adored and followed all around the world but as we have seen in the champions league there was only one English club in the semi-final and they were humiliated in the final by their Spanish counterparts. The English national teams flatters to deceive each time they appear in a major tournament and are many times booed off the pitch by their own fans. It can be down to the difference in the footballing culture between the two nations, lack of luck or one can even go to an extent that the Spanish national team is utilizing its golden generation, its purple patch to the fullest extent. Different people support different theories and I shall put forward my theory here.
English clubs can only recruit kids who live within a 30min radius from the academy. Clubs in England are allowed to spend only a fixed amount of time with their youth team players on a daily basis – A fact highlighted by Sir Alex after the champions league final. But the most important fact might be what the look for in a certain individual – pace, power, stamina, and size are given preference over skill, ball control, passing ability, vision etc. These players are made to play on a full size pitch way before they are ready and hence the one’s with the better athleticism stand out. The kids are introduced to formations and winning is given more importance than development even at that age. This hampers the national team as they tend to play long ball or shoot at sight during matches. Lack of technique can be highlighted even in the future crop as we have seen in the past 2 matches in the Euro2011 U21’s against Spain and Ukraine.
If you take a look at the Barcelona team you can say that they are a team of footballers(players with great technique where a change in position/formation won’t affect the team), where as other teams will comprise of forwards, midfielders and defenders(players with a fixed position). Mascherano the Argentinean captain who was one of the best ball winners during his time at Liverpool hardly gets a look in. the Spanish players are taught not to give the ball away and apply pressure higher up the field on the opposition players least comfortable on the ball (ie their defenders) so that it is easy to win the ball back. We laud our very own John Terry and say that he will get into the Barcelona team as he is better than any of their defenders, well their defenders know to keep the ball well not panic and hoof the ball into row-z every time they are under pressure. A point to be noted over here – a team only needs a ball winner, tacklers if they keep giving the ball away, a thing which in Spanish football is meant to be a crime. Therefore Barca doesn’t need a Terry kind of player. As Pique pointed out in an interview English player love to party, go to discos and stay up. This is something that can’t be changed as it has become a part of the English culture.
I don’t get the myth of can Messi perform on a cold windy night at Stoke, can he perform as he does if he is exposed to the rigors of the premier league week in week out. Well Silva seems to have made the transition from Spain to England without any fuss so Messi shouldn’t have any problem with it. Well he may not score 50-55 goals as he might get injured by the physical players in the premier league, and the cold windy night might affect him more than the opposition but he wouldn’t have a problem scoring 30-40 goals like Ronaldo did during his time over here.
People want English players to play tiki-taka passing football but the truth is they don’t appreciate such kind of football. We tend to cheer our Tevezs for their work rate yet criticize the Berbatovs as they don’t track back and try and win the ball back. People love the Parks because they hustle the opponents to win back the ball which they gave away in the first place due to their lack of technical ability. We love the lung bustling runs of a Lampard and shift the diminutive Scholes out on the left. So the fans fail in their part to cheer the more technical players.
We often tell that Arsenal are the closest to the way Barcelona play and yet try to find faults with them. While playing against them we try to stop them playing and revert to anti-football. Teams who succeed in doing that remain happy as they have won and earned themselves the 3 points but never try to play like that themselves……… and the reason for all of this is the Sky money. Lower teams don’t try to play football(well Backpool did and got relegated), they want to stay in the league for the 40m jackpot. As debt increases this sky money and the champions league money is everything to the clubs. In case the 6+5 rule comes through all it will manage to do is to further inflate the already inflated British transfer market where Andy caroll goes for the same value as David Villa(even the U21’s cost 15m+). Instead(of the 6+5) we could use the Carling cup to play only the U21’s or the Fa cup to play only the English players. This will ensure that the Youngsters get a chance as Big clubs are too scared to try out youngsters as results have become more significant. The Premier league also doesn’t help as it fines the clubs that try to play the youngsters in meaningless matches(Wolves, Blackpool, Man Utd were also threatened by the league on the last day of the season). Sir Alex brought though his fledglings on their 92 youth cup win but I doubt he too can risk promoting his current crop of Youth cup winners, instead he may splash out 30m+ on a Sneijder or a Modric.
1: Change in Academy policies.
2: Salary cap.
3: Use carling cup/ Fa cup for only English players or u21’s(to promote youth) as this is where they will get time to play and perform in real competitive matches.
4: Scrap the reserve league and allow teams to form their B teams.(if point 3 fails)
5: Not to divide the Sky money evenly as it ensures that the league becomes a results based business rather than a performance based one, like in Spain, Italy etc (highly unlikely to happen)
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