By Daniel Soffa
Who are the best 4 English teams? Arguably United, Everton, Villa, Spurs, perhaps West ham deserve a mention. Why no Liverpool? Why no Arsenal? Sure United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are among the best teams in England, but would it be right to call Arsenal, for instance, an English team. Daniel Soffa discusses the growing influx of foreign players in the English game and suggests a somewhat controversial solution that may simultaneously rekindle the spirit of the FA Cup.
It’s hard to argue against the Premiership being the strongest league in Europe, the last time an English representative wasn’t in the Champions league semi-final was the 2002/2003 season, furthermore, all but one of the semi-finalists in the competition has consisted solely of Premiership teams for the past 3 years.
Despite the success of English football, there is a criticism as to How English the game really is? Platini has been open in his criticism regarding the dwindling number of English players participating in the Premiership. Platini is not alone in his criticism, “I’m worse off than Lippi, than everyone,” laments the English national team coach Capello. “In the Premier League only 35% of players are English. In Italy about 72% are Italian”.
The Premiership have plans to introduce a “home-grown player rule,” where clubs must have a quota of locally trained players within their squad, crucially nationality does not come into play, so the ruling will not essentially make English players a priority.
Besides, is the Premier League as an establishment responsible for the development of English players? The Premiership aims to have the highest quality and most exciting league, responsibility for the development of English players and the English national team falls with the Football Association. If only the Football Association could present some sort of a platform to showcase English football, if only the FA had some sort knockout tournament, maybe if the FA had their own tournament, they could take the steps towards giving English players a platform to shine.
The FA Cup is the oldest domestic football competition in the World, a reform to the competition would be faced with more apathy than the proposed ‘39th game’, however, most will agree that the competition is in decline. The UCL’s growing popularity is having an adverse reaction on alternative cups available during the season, recent examples of the tournaments devaluation? Holders Chelsea had an unfulfilling season despite winning the trophy, and Manchester United surrendered a place in the cups final by fielding a sub-strength team in the Semis.
If the Premier League winners define who the best team in England is, maybe an all English FA Cup would define who has the best English team.