Much has been said regarding the ability of English clubs to perform on the European stage and this week’s results have sparked worldwide debate into where they are going wrong.
I personally believe that investment in foreign talent as opposed to building English grown is playing a major factor. When you look at the top teams in Spain, Germany and Italy their ranks are brimming with exciting young players and experienced veterans who have dedicated their playing career to their country of money. For me, Barcelona would be the prime example of what bringing through a constant conveyor belt of talent can do.
As a Scot looking in I see teams flung together with very little top English players currently playing for the supposed top clubs. At Manchester City I don’t see any young English players coming through. The same could be said for Chelsea or Arsenal. What does this say for the English game, that wealthy owners come in and just throw about millions invading foreign markets as opposed to building a sustainable future for the organisation from youth level to the first team. With the introduction of the ‘FIFA Financial Fair Play Regulations’ in 2011, however, teams such as City have not been given the opportunity to bring in such high calibre players. This has also been the case for Barcelona who over a 1 year period were given a transfer ban. The two clubs met this week in Manchester and as a neutral, personally only losing 2-1 was a very good score-line for City. That says a lot.
Defeat for Arsenal at home to a very mediocre Monaco side followed and now barring a miraculous recovery, Arsenal will remain plateaued at the last 16 stage for yet another season.
As we move into the Europa League one would have to admit that it was another crushing night for English clubs. LIverpool exited the competition in a stadium where they had won the Champions League 10 years previous and Tottenham fell to Fiorentina with a whimper, losing 2-0 on the night. Everton (who currently sit 12th and only 6 points above the bottom three) remain the only English participant in the Europa League. UEFA’s second string competition.
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How can you possibly be satisfied with such results when you are raking in an absolute fortune every year which could and should be put to lasting projects and schemes aimed at putting the English club game at the top of Europe. Delving deeper, surely such outrageous funds should be the starting point for England at international level. As I have said, constant scouting for foreign talent has to stop. The resources are their and the talent is their. With the right infrastructure in place similar to that of Spain or Germany who have been the front-runners in International football in recent times, England could easily be up there challenging instead of producing the embarrassing major tournament disasters we have been accustomed to lately.
My whole argument is based on the fact that compared to the finances available across Europe; England are major under achievers. Not for the lack of trying, but more has to be done to improve the standard of the game and following successful strategies of the past could be a good starting point.