We as football fans go through the same emotions on a national scale. We love our clubs, go to games and get really passionate about our football.
Then the international break comes and the whole country stops to watch the best bunch of Englishmen from across the leagues fight with St. George on their chests. We get built up season after season as the big international tournaments come closer. The Englishmen in the premier league set their teams alight and we start to get really excited about what might be. The papers and media talk the team up and the country gets to fever pitch. Then the competition hits and our boys come home early to disappointment as yet another England team has failed to inspire, compete and make any headway on the biggest stage of all. We all as one come crashing down to earth. Pundits shout that we need a change from top to bottom. The papers have a field day at slating each individual player for weeks. All kind of explanations get thrown about which are exactly the same as what was said 2 years previous, and every fan in the country says ”I’m not going to bother next time!!”. But low and behold another tournament gets closer and we start the long arduous process again.
So why do England always fail to deliver on the international stage? They all play in arguably the best league in the world. Bar Real Madrid and Barcelona we have the richest teams in the world. We play fast competitive football every week. No game is easy. We boast some of the best foreign players in the world and is a melting pot of hard, fast, entertaining football. So surely as all of our national team players play in this exciting, world-class league we should have a world-class team. But for some reason we don’t. I’ve heard it come down to the managers. But we have had multiple world-class managers manage multiple teams and the end result is always the same. I’ve heard we haven’t got the youth coming through. But if you look at the stats for under 19 euro championships guess who has won it the most times? We are joint highest winners with Spain with 9 wins each. We’ve been runners-up 5 times to Spain’s 4 which makes us edge the stats. So on 9 occasions our under 19 footballers have been the best in Europe. Also last year our under 17’s won the Euro championship. So that can’t be it. Spain won back-to-back European Championships either side of a world cup between 2008-2012 so why not us?
But maybe the premier league isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We certainly hold our own in the champion’s league albeit not being the best. But it’s made me think of the bigger picture. We now have a Premier league that only boasts around 33% of actual English players. With the constant influx of foreign international players some say that should enhance the England team due to learning different skills from abroad and more competition for places. Which arguably it does. But still our national team fails to deliver.
So I’ve decided to look at other successful international teams to see how many premier league players are present in the tournaments. Or teams that have won it that have a squad that are mainly taken from premier league teams since it was formed. My findings were quite surprising. The teams that have won it since 1992 (when the premier league was formed) with premier league players in the squads are as follows:
- Brazil 1994 – 0 players
- France 1998 – 3 players
- Brazil 2002 – 1 Player
- Italy 2006 – 0 players
- Spain 2010 – 3 players
- Germany 2014 – 4 players
So as you can see the best teams in the world since the premier league has started have had a total of 11 players in them out of a possible 138. Also if you look more in-depth, those 11 players aren’t even nailed on starters in those teams throughout the respective tournaments.
In the latest world cup in 2014 if we look at the four teams that made the semi finals: Germany, Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands. There were a total for 16 players representing the Premier League in those squads – an average of 4 each, which out of 92 players, is hardly prominent.
But if the premier league is the best most competitive league in the world why aren’t the best international teams in the world made up of premier league players? And why aren’t premier league teams, albeit doing well, not dominating champions league competitions? How can a league like Spain for example who until recently with Athletico Madrid, only have 2 competitive fixtures (Real Madrid v Barcelona) a season, and just bulldoze the rest of the teams in the league, or the German league that has one team in Bayern Munich who dominates and destroys every other team in the league on a weekly basis, be better breeding grounds for international players than the premier league that play competitive, difficult games week after week. Surely the fast, hard, never say die attitude shown by all teams in the Premier league would be a better place for players to develop and improve than the other leagues in Europe.
Maybe that’s because it’s in fact not as good as we think it is. Or maybe because we have no winter break and there are no easy games the players are simply too tired by the time tournaments come.
Whatever it is, it gives food for thought that it’s not just England that fails at tournaments. It’s other teams that are made up by premier league players that struggle as well. So we can stop using the excuse of ” We boast players that play in the best league in the world though” because in fact that just isn’t true.