One argument that crops up every time the English National team fails is "Does the influx of foreign players prevent British players from developing?". Spoken as if we have always enjoyed a huge amount of success before the recent international investment and influx of foreign players. However it seems as though whenever we mention this, we forget that we have only ever had success in one major tournament and that was the 1966 World Cup on home soil. It's not as though we were a world Superpower when it came to international competition and then in the 90's and 00's we have fallen from grace. We didn't even qualify for the World Cups in 1974 or 1978 and we missed out again in 1994. This is all before the big spenders invested in teams like Chelsea and Manchester City and started parting with their money like they were playing Football Manager.
I think blaming the influx of foreign players is the easy root to take when trying to understand why we as a nation are falling behind when it comes to producing top quality talent. However I believe it is as much the FA's fault as it is the owners of Premier League clubs. We continue to look at a players parent club as a determining factor in selection rather than talent. For example, recently Ashley Young was selected and played against the Ukraine. His form this season has been terrible, where as someone like Nathan Redmond is on fine form. If Redmond played for Manchester United and Ashley Young for Norwich, I have to believe that it would be Redmond receiving the senior international call up and cap and Young would be training back in Manchester. There are some fundamental problems with the FA decision makers and more importantly Roy Hodgson and predecessors when it comes to selection. We can't blame the influx of foreign players for that.
If British players were good enough, they would be playing. It's as simple as that. We still produce some terrific talent, however it seems as though when they hit the U21's they need to make a move to a big club to even get a sniff of the national team. How many times have you seen Roy Hodgson at a Southampton v West Ham game? or something similar. Very very rarely, because he constantly scouts the likes of Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal....teams who have some of the most foreign dominated lineups. I don't blame any foreign player for wanting to come to the Premier League, it is without doubt the best and most competitive football league in the world. I also can't blame Premier League fans for wanting the best players on the pitch. We pay £40-£60 a match, so we want the best, that's fair.
It's easy to say that the England team is dominated by players from the top clubs because the best players gravitate to those clubs. To be fair, there is a lot of truth in this statement. In the game against the Ukraine we had 2 Man City players, 2 Man United players, 2 Arsenal Players, 4 Chelsea players, 1 Everton Players, 1 Spurs player and 1 Southampton player. So of the 14 players, two were from outside the 'big' teams. Joe Hart has been very poor this season, Young has done nothing to warrant this call up, Milner has done nothing on the international stage. You could go on and on and on, there are alternatives, the England set-up just don't recognise it because they turn their heads to the small clubs.
For me I always see the England team as a closed group, where as with Spain or Holland if an individal is performing well they will play, it doesn't matter how old they are or how much experience they have, they'll play. However with England, if a player shows poor form for his club, he'll still get a call up and cap for England. Then we are supposed to be surprised when he doesn't perform on the international stage.
The problem with the England National team is not the influx of international foreign players, it's the England National Team itself, it's the FA and it's body. It's the manager and his staff. Not only are England not a very good Internatinal team at the moment, they are also quite a boring one to watch. However we'll carry on watching in the hope and expectation that things will change. Lets hope they do!