Date: 20th November 2007 at 8:57am
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Ferguson agrees, and unsurprisingly, Arsene Wenger disagrees.

It is something that is very contentious, and almost everybody will likely have an opinion, although it is also likely that their opinion will be based entirely on how many foreigners they have at there club.

The theory behind it is that the England national team is failing, due to not enough English players playing in the premiership, and so English footballers are not playing at a high enough level anywhere near enough.

The problem with the theory, is that the English national side is not failing, and the U21 side is very spectacularly not failing, suggesting not only is this a load of rubbish, but it is possible that the high level of foreign players in the premiership is raising the level of English football, not lowering it.

But, if you look at the teams in the premiership, the captains of 3 of the top 4 are English, and the best players in them are also English. This holds true throughout the league, Portsmouth’s captain, Sol Campbell is English, and we also have an English goalkeeper, English defenders, English midfielders, if you look at any team, then they are mostly made of a hard core of English players, so to say that there is a lack of quality English players playing in the premier league is, quite simply, wrong.

Well, maybe you can say that more foreign players are coming in, and pushing out more and more English players, but this too is not entirely true. Since the major influx of foreign talent into the premiership, the national side has only improved. Sure back in 1966, we won the world cup, but we have come much closer to winning trophies recently than for a very long time – I am sure that had we beaten Portugal, we would have won euro ’04. Following this trend, you would expect the national side to keep improving with the foreign talent coming in. And logically, this is true. The more foreign talent that is coming in, the higher the level the league is played at, and so English players are getting more and more experience at playing at a top level.

In addition to this, we can look at our U21 side. The last European championships were one of the best ever, losing to the eventual winners in an extended penalty shoot out, the sides were so evenly matched. And the current form, qualifying for the next tournament, is played 5, won 5, scored 11, conceded 0 – hardly the statistics of a failing youth side.

So, with the England team getting better, the U21s getting better, and premier league teams getting better, who is losing out? Certainly, it is not any players from foreign countries.

Ghana do not have a league that plays at a high level, so if the number of foreigners playing in the premiership was restricted, the number of players from foreign countries playing at a high level would be restricted, and so it is likely that we would not see African countries competing successfully in the world cup again. Remove the foreign talent, and all that will happen is that more English players from the championship play in the premiership, and is that really a benefit to English football? Lowering the levels at which English players are playing? Lowering the levels at which foreign players are playing?

Watching Arsenal go out with 10 foreign players on the pitch is for me, much more exciting than watching Middlesbrough go out with 10 English players on the pitch. They play better football, they score more goals, and overall, they play a more exciting game. I would never turn on the television to watch Middlesbrough play (no offence to them) – it just isn’t interesting.

My point is that reducing the number of foreign players in the premiership will only reduce the level in which football is played, and so having the adverse effect of reducing the quality of English football. That and it would make it so boring to watch.

And whilst I am at it, there was an interesting article on the vital Chelsea site, about youth football, here.

Written by pompeycarpet.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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27 Replies to “Foreign player caps”

  • nice article carpet – as usual well thought out and well written… even if it is another beast to read 🙂 this should get some debate going shouldnt it… my inital thoughts, foreign players coming into the game has been good for the enlgish game in my opinion as they have been able to pass on their quality to others. maybe the talent coming through isnt as high as it used to be, but the thought that it isnt there anymore isnt true – the cream of the crop is still getting through… maybe these players are missing out at most of the ‘big’ clubs but they then find their way back with ‘other’ clubs… whilst i would maybe like the numbers coming in reduced slightly things are not as bad as its being made out… in any case the fa and other football associations around the world made their beds by allowing so many overseas players to come over – it will be very hard to change this… but as i say i agree with you in the main carpet that it isnt as big a problem as people might have us think!

  • I’m still undecided on this, but this article puts the point very well against, and I think you may have persuaded me. After all, if the press continue to harangue young English players like they do with Nuge, what good would it do? One thing though, if they did bring it in, I think Pompey would be OK, we do have a good core of English players in our side.

  • yep we do enought to be more than okay and with plenty more in the academy side – which is doing fantastically well – things look even brighter for the future regarding british talent coming through at pompey…

  • I don’t think foreign players are ruining English football at all. You only have to look at Pompey to see what happens when you bring in quality foreign signings, many of whom are more professional, and cost a fraction of the price of their domestic counterparts. I find it amusing that this debate has come around at a time when England were struggling to qualify for Euro 2008. If a last minute Israel goal against Russia suddenly makes everything better then there really are problems with our game (and attitude to it). If things are so bad then how come the U-21’s managed to reach the semi finals of last years European Championships and have a 100%record in qualifying for the 2008 finals? Many of these players will never get a game for the national side (or a big name premier League club) because the system in this country is not to use the U-21’s as a stepping stone for the full national team. Also why should Arsene Wenger, Alex ferguson, Avram Grant, and Rafael Benitez (or even Harry Redknapp) worry about the England national side. Their job is to manage their respective clubs, not to help the FA. chelsea and man u have invested huge amounts of money in their youth systems while the FA chose not to spend theirs on a national training centre. players of any nationality can play for Chelsea and Man U while only English players can represent England which limits the FA. Most foreign players have a far better attitude than their English counterparts when it comes to diet, training, drugs, and clubs. I know there are exceptions but I’m talking generally. Another example of a good youth system reaping its rewards lies not 15 miles to the west of portsmouth. the only thing keeping Southampton alfloat at present is the presence of home grown players, many of whom can be sold on for a substantial profit. Pompey over the past decade have a dismal record at producing young players. Thank god we’ve got a manager who knows how to buy foreign players.

  • I’d agree that presence of a large contingent of foreign players of high quality is what makes the EPL the most prestigious league, but I think there should be limits in the interest of the English game. As you pointed out, most teams feature English players who play regularly. However, to do what Arsenal does and develop the French national team on English soil is to embarass the nation that invented the sport. Consider this: If there were a cap of 3 English players minimum per EPL team, that would guarantee 60 players of EPL experience for the national squad, (or almost 3 full squads worth). The national team is every Englishman’s concern. It’s too bad the FA doesn’t see it that way.

  • About 40% of the Premiership is filled with Englishmen (according to the FAs stats), which means approximately 88 players to choose from, already.

  • Toronto4Pompey if you made a cap of 3 english players per EPL team (i take it you mean 3 minimum not maximum?) then the quality everyone of us pays to see on a weekly basis will suffer greatly. As prits says. there are already 88 players to choose from anyway. The fact that most of them play for sides in the lower reaches of the premiership (derby, Reading, Wigan, etc) gives an indication that they are not up to the standard required by teams such as Chelsea, arsenal, Man u, Liverpool. if they are not up to that standard (ie good enough to play in the Champions league) then they shouldn’t be picked for England. You can’t force clubs to field players of a certain nationality anyway, its against EU employment laws. It will be interesting to see next year how james Milner (34 caps for the u-21’s) fares when he reaches his 22nd birthday and can’t play for Stuart Pearce any more. I doubt that he will play for Steve McClaren. I’d also like to know how Matthew Connolly, a defender, has been picked for the u-21’s. he’s on loan at Colchester from arsenal (having played 2 carling cup games for the gunners last season). he also spent most of last year on loan at Bournemouth. he’s played 10 games for colchester this year in a defence that has conceded 17 goals in those 10 games. How does Stuart Pearce (no major honours as a coach) come to the conclusion that some one who arsene wenger (many major honours as a coach) considers not good enough for Arsenal is ok for England u-21?

  • nice article carpet… you’ve put the spotlight on where is should have been.
    I’ve some things for those who criticize AFC…First of all I’m no French… but I tell you what… France didnt qualify for the 1994 worldcup, from there after throuhtout the france the reponse was immence… with the training grounds in every corner of the country and the way- better youth coaching system etc… Can you tell me how many topclass football grounds are there in English villages…
    why are Spanish clubs getting the players from France/Italy/Germany/Netherlands etc.. .but not from England. Why there are more french/spanish/Bralizlian players in the CL clubs than english. I dont say English are not good… coz if you provide them good infrastructure/youthsystem and everything they will become technically very good… but who has to take care of that… I will say FA… why the hell it is spending 1 BILLION for Wembely with which you can have 7-8 topclass training academies. If FA cannot show interest how come you expect that from clubs.
    One more thing is… You cannot change these kind of things in a fortnight. you need a vision…Its again Arsenal which is leading the way. If you check the arsenal youth/reserves… you can see atleast 80% are english and they are provided equal opportunities. If they are good they will make into Arsenal automatically… but you cannot expect them into the team just becoz they are english. I sincerly wish they are good and they make into the first team.
    I’ve given my thoughts to pompay site… coz I really think you guys make sense with what you write unlike some haters of Arsenal who claim AFC is the reason for English downfall. Instead They should be proud for the technical level Arsenal is showing in the League. If I’ve to list down the reasons for English downfall, It will become an EPIC of this era. I wonder what they will show as the reason once FA introduced the quota system. All these fixes will make the system even worse unless you give the medicine to the root cause.

  • You both may be correct Prits & Rabbi. And even if there were a requirement of 3 English players per squad, it would not necessarily guarantee that those players would make it on to the pitch week in week out. Truth is, I don’t have a bullet proof answer to this but I get extremely worked up when I see Wenger, with impunity, fielding a team without an English player in it time after time without anyone raising an eyebrow. Maybe it’s nostalgic but I always think of an aunt of mine (long gone) who was an absolute die hard Gunners fan back in the days of Charlie George et al. I think she’d turn in her grave if she saw that team today. The point is, the E in EPL does not stand for European does it. As for European employment laws, there’s always a way to mold laws to desirable policies. I say all of this without even a hint of xenophobia by the way. I think it’s great that the Premier League is considered the finest league in the world and that it contains talented players from every continent. I do not, however buy the argument that English players are in any way less talented or attractive to the game than are those from elsewhere, although I do believe that view is out there among managers of the big teams, many of whom are themselves non-English. In order to develop the Bobby Moores, Alan Balls, Bobby Charltons etc. that we need to win at the international level, we need to place an onus on our big domestic teams to nurture them and give them the playing time they need to develop, and lets face it, that isn’t happening at the moment.

  • KnightofArsenal. Good points mate. Like everybody else I’m sure, I think Arsenal are terrific entertainment. I still think AW could do more to work English players in to side though. Arsenal may be developing them in their system, but will they play for Arsenal ?

  • I think we should just leave everything as it is, to think that we would have missed Proseneki, Kanu or the like would be wrong.
    The failure of our national team is down to poor coach selection and the lack of bottle to pick the best man for the job and accepting that might be a foreign coach and the fact that some of our players who get selected are not as good as they think they are, and we have discussed them many times on this website.
    We have little or no structure in our game, as the failure to open the new school of excellence at Buxton has proved.
    We deserve to see the best in the world in the Premiership and i hope that this never changes, and i want those stars to play for Pompey, not Real, AC Milan and the big foreign teams.

  • With regard to Arsene Wenger and his (lack of) development of English players. What about Ashley Cole, Steve Sidwell, David Bentley, matthew Upson, julian Gray, Jermaine pennant, Rohan Ricketts to a few. I know he didn’t play them much at arsenal but he developed them for other premiership sides to use which is surely not too bad is it?

  • Wel put Rabbi, some of those you mentioned did not have the patience or the self discipline to hold on at the Arsenal, and paid the price by moving on to other clubs.

  • wow, some epic responses to my own epic article! Im glad most people agree, however it also does not surprise me. it is exactly what i would expect for people supporting pompey and arsenal to back my idea, as we both have a very high proportiobn of foreign players – however i hope that if anyone was previosly undecided, then i hope to have put forward a reasnable argument against the caps, that s so lacking in the press at the moment. i would be pretty intrested to see the views of people from othr clubs though…as well as arsenal.

  • I think by and large (except Ashley Cole) you’ll find that they moved on having been judged ” not good enough ” for Arsenal. And again, I’m not picking on AFC. They’re a terrific team and probably the most entertaining team in the league to watch right now. But there seems to be a prevailing view our there that English players could not be capable of putting on that kind of show which is why in my view many of them don’t get the playing time they deserve. Look at Wright-Phillips for example. Are you telling me he should have sat on the bench at Chelsea as long as he did, only to be brought back once Robben had departed ? What a load of bollox. I he had played more last year at the level where he belongs, who know how much progress he would have made. Sorry. Not convinced that system should stay as it is. Good article though Carpet !

  • this has certainly got some tongues wagging carpet… whilst reducing the influx slightly might not be a bad thing overall i dont think it is half as bad as many people think – okay, so arsenal might not have many english/british players in their squad let alone side but they do produce them, if they produce them but then let them go so be it, someone else will pick them up and they can just pick up where they left off… as paying punters we want to be entertained dont we, whilst it would be good to see mostly english talent seen as its the ‘english premier league’ so long as i am entertained within reason i couldnt give a rats arse where the players are from tbh… i think from a pompey point of view we should generally be safe in the knowledge that we will have home nations talent as our squad too, our academy will be producing stars in the years to come – some of the current crop look like they could be fantastic if they keep developing as they are.

  • This is a hell of a thread 🙂
    So first of all i dont think that the state of english football is so bad as it is made to be, The Rabbi made some good points on the u21’s success and also England has qualified for 9 of the last 10 major championships (the only team thats done better is germany), so its not so bad. Basically it all comes down to economics. If you want to have the best league in the world than, you have to buy the best players in the world, as an effect of that your domestic players will lose some of their spots. So take your pick, you cant have it both ways. All the major teams in europe have squads that are made up primarily of foreigners, that is because they have the money to buy the best players. Right now the Premiership is the most affluent league in Europe, foreign rich owners have given their clubs lots of money, so they can spend more money than anyone else, so they can buy more better players than ever before. Also, someone made a good point about Southampton, they (and other poorer leagues in the world), develop lots of their players and thats how they make most of their money, so there is hope in academys it just that for the big clubs its a lot more attractive to spend 50 mil on a Kaka than a facility

  • Its good to see Arsenal getting some support on here for their policy. Atleast we are getting through to some reasonable folk. In fact, Arsenal have the highest contribution to the England set up (youth teams included) – there is an article on the vital arsenal front page.

  • toronto4pompey – Bentley and Sidwell both asked for transfers because they werent patient enough to get 1st team football. It was not coz they were not deemed ‘good enough’. Wenger doesnt stand in their way if they want to move, just like he doesnt stand in the way of Lupoli, Larsson, and the others who want to move on. If these players had been patient enough, they might have got their opportunity.

  • agreed prits. good points all round. Arsenal are the benchmark. While we are on the subject why don’t the FA get off their arses and try and uncover some of the ‘English’ players playing abroad if the talent doesn’t exist here. The FIFA rules allow it and it worked in the case of owen hargreaves and John barnes. Most of these have parents/grandparents with English backgrounds and have never lived in this country. One example is Owen Hunt of werder bremen who plays for the German U-21’s. With a name like that he should be playing for England u-21’s! We could also adopt some of the many Brazilians who are searching for a country to play international football for. Good to see as well that 0% of Pompey fans at present favour England over their club.

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