Fever pitch as new Premiership season kicks off

With the new season underway, the excitement reaches tangible levels as international superstars from across the globe descend upon England...

A mouth-watering prospect with Torres moving to Liverpool, Nani, Anderson and Tevez moving to Manchester Utd, Malouda moving to Chelsea and even Manchester City getting in on the act with the purchase of international talent from Brazil and Italy.

You would expect excitement and positivity across the board at the array of talent destined to entertain the masses once the transfer window ends and the loose ends are tied up. Yet once again the great and good of English football have been stating their objection to the continued influx of international players plying their trade in the Premier League.

World Cup winner Geoff Hurst has joined Bobby Robson and Rio Ferdinand in bemoaning the lack of English players making progress with England’s top clubs. All three stated that the increased numbers of foreign stars are blocking potential home grown talent from progressing.

“If we persist in bringing in so many foreign players, there will be less and less chance for youngsters in the academies to come through” stated Bobby Robson.

Sir Geoff Hurst fears England slipping further down the international pecking order citing the selection of Theo Walcott as justification of England’s lack of quality. “It was a poor decision in itself, but it was also a damming indictment of the lack of strength in our game”.

A dour view of the current state of the national game from two living legends. However it could be suggested it is a narrow minded view that has been relayed year upon year as an easy option to explain England’s lack of success at international tournaments and an even more comfortable solution giving England's current struggle to get out of there qualifying group.

Surely one poor selection by a manager looking to make waves in his last tournament as manager should not be a reflection on the state of the national game.

If we look back to the very first year of the Premier League in 92/93, there were just 11 foreign players playing in the premier league giving ample opportunity for home grown talent to shine.

However, England were hardly setting the world alight on the international scene being dumped out of the first round out Euro 92 and not even qualifying for the World Cup in 1994. Admittedly Graham Taylor wasn’t the most celebrated England manager, far from it; he could only work with the players available who may have been given the opportunity to shine at domestic level however proved far from international standard.

There was hardly a foreign player in England from 1966 until the early nineties so three decades of failure in international tournaments could hardly be blamed on lack of opportunities for English players at domestic level.

When actually looking at the English players' opportunities it can be seen that the very best players are given the chance to succeed and excel alongside the foreign imports.

When looking at the top three teams in England last year, there was an abundance of English players playing pivotal roles in their clubs success. Last season's top three of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man United had a combined total of 18 players of English nationality performing on a regular basis for three of the best teams in Europe.

Clearly showing that if the players are good enough then they will get the opportunities, if they are unable to make the grade at a top side in the Premier League then it is highly doubtful if they will ever be good enough for the national side.

If the desire and talent is not there to compete with your fellow professionals no matter what there nationality then what chance would these players have of succeeding for the national side.

The example of Chelsea again indicates that if the quality is there the English players will be given the opportunities. When the Abramovich and Mourinho revolution began much was made of the number of foreign players brought in, however the best English players held there places in the first team and have clearly become much better players as a result of competing for a place in the team alongside Mourinho imports.

Foreign managers have been accused of sticking to their own, too many French players at Arsenal and Portuguese at Chelsea, but so what? If managers come from a country where they have a greater knowledge of the players playing there then what is wrong with bringing in imports to increase the standard of the team.

Clearly Arsene Wenger and José Mourinho are not so short sighted as to bring in foreign players purely for the sake of it. It was Arsene Wenger who nurtured Ashley Cole when he saw his potential at such a young age and it was Jose Mourinhio who after much courting managed to bring the English full back to Chelsea when he could have chosen a full back from anywhere in the world.

A main criticism of some of the international players coming to England is that the players imported are no better than the English players who are currently playing in this country. Probably a correct one but hardly the fault of the system, more blame should perhaps be focused on inexperienced managers out of there depth at big clubs given millions to spend and all too eager to fritter it away on the next great hype from the continent.

Far from analysing any drawbacks we should think of the benefits to our own national players, think of Theo Walcott training with Thierry Henry every day and learning from one of the all time greats. Maybe Peter Crouch isn’t getting a regular game at Liverpool but that is what you expect when you are playing for one of the top clubs in Europe, competition for places.

It seems to have done Crouch no harm at all being surrounded by quality players and being in competition for his place week in week out.

The purchase of Torres is yet another obstacle in front of Crouch to get into the Liverpool first team however, competition that is part of everyday life in the best league in the world and appears beneficial to the national side as the players continues to look ever more assured in an England shirt.

After all that is what the Premier League is, a competition, the best against the best and the league is all the better for it. English clubs are thriving in European competition with international superstars performing alongside our national stars.

England players do have an inability to reproduce their domestic form in international tournaments and have done for over 40 years. But then again so do Spain and they also have some of the best players in the world setting the top national leagues and Champion’s League alight.

It is a weak argument to base the state of the national game on England’s performance in an international knockout tournament where luck is a great decider and progress in recent times has dictated by a penalty shoot out.

Instead of criticising, we should be rejoicing at the quality of football we are privileged to watch week in week out and should not be basing the strength of our game on one international tournament but on a thriving domestic league where fans flock in all time high numbers to watch international starts compete alongside the best of our home grown talent.