FA Chairman Greg Dyke today delivered a refreshing speech condemning the current state of English football, going as far as saying England will not be able to compete on the world stage for much longer without changes to the way our game is run. He also set England the target of winning the 2022 World Cup.
But what exactly needs to change to see an England team competing all the way to the end of a tournament?
A lot of people blame the introduction of the Premier League and the financial implications brought in by its introduction. With the money being pumped into the Premier League, this year even more so with BT Sports, the financial need to stay in the Premier League is greater and therefore more money is spent on cheaper foreign exports and the vicious cycle begins.
There is a clear over reliance in foreign players. At the start of the Premier League 69% of starters were English, today just 32%, under a third of players.
You only have to look at Manchester City against Newcastle on the opening day of the season, where only 3 English players started, Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and Steven Taylor. Compare that to 6 French players, 4 Argentinians, 2 Spaniards and Ivorians amongst others. 3 out of 22 players equates to 13%, which is not promising for the national team.
Of course, this relates to a shortage of first team football for English players, especially those moving to ‘big’ clubs. Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair moving to Manchester City proves an example. Rodwell featured in just 11 league games last season and Sinclair the same, having played all 38 in the previous season at Swansea.
Players in the current squad, including Chris Smalling and Steven Caulker featured in just 15 and 18 for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur last season respectively, less than half of the leagues games.
It is clear what first team football can do to a player, only look at the transformation of Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool. He has scored 13 Premier League goals in 17 appearances for the Mersyside club, compared to the same haul in 63 games at Chelsea. His teammate Jordan Henderson is another example of this. The former Sunderland midfielder has finally found his feet at the club and is a regular in the first team.
However, the truth of it is England’s failure lasts a lot longer than the introduction of the Premier League. Not since 1966 have England won, or even reached the final, of a major tournament.
What the national team needs is more qualified coaches, from grass routes level all the way to the top, to help nurture talent and in all honestly, improve the technical ability of the players.
The number of UEFA A liscence coaches in England stands at 1,161. Compare that to Spain 12,720 and Germany 5,500, you can see where the problem begins to arise. It does not stop here. When you look at the number of Pro Licenced coaches England have just 203. Compare that to over 2,000 in Spain and 1,000 in Germany, a common theme begins to occur.
However it is not all doom and gloom.
There are a number of encouraging young players plying their trade in the Premier League right now. The likes of Jack Wilshere, if he can stay fit, will be key for England in coming years, along with others such as Danny Welbeck and his Manchester United colleague Wilfried Zaha and Nathan Redmond, who has impressed with England Under 21’s recently and goalkeeper Jack Butland. Southampton trio Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Callum Chambers have made encouraging starts to their careers on the south coast.
There is even more clear talent if you drop down a league into the Championship. Derby midfielder Will Hughes being the stand out star, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League, Nick Powell, who is on loan at Wigan from Manchester United, and Blackpool’s Tom Ince.
The key being? Getting them regular first team Premier League football and not too soon.
You only have to look at Connor Wickham, signed by Sunderland for £8million after just 13 goals, and has scored just one in 3 years and just 31 appearances at the North East club.
Potential England XI for 2022 World Cup
. Jones Caulker Smalling Shaw
. Barkley Chalobah Wilshere
. Redmond Welbeck Zaha
Subs from: George Long, Andre Wisdom, Callum Chambers, Michael Keane, Tom Cleverley, Will Hughes, Nick Powell, Jesse Lingard, Theo Walcott, Daniel Sturridge, Connor Wickham.