The recent boom in stature of the Premier League has undoubtedly had adverse effects on the competitiveness of the national team. England have failed to make the quarter finals in the previous two World Cups, being knocked out in the last 16 under Capello in South Africa, and not progressing out of the group in Brazil.
The problem lies with thirteen Premier League clubs having foreign majority shareholders, who’s interests have absolutely nothing to do with the performances of the national side. The only clubs to have English owners and finish in the top half last season were Spurs and Stoke. To owners like the Glazers, Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour of United, Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, they do not batter an eyelid at England’s repeated failures, so long as their club is annually competing for the Premier League title. There is a lack of motivation from the ‘so called’ big clubs to change the fortunes of England major tournament success, although in the long run it would surely be beneficial to these clubs if they could develop their younger players into stars, regardless of their nationality.
Another major stumbling block to England’s progress is the big club’s transfer policy of signing players from abroad for substantial sums of money, instead of looking to invest in their infrastructure and develop home grown talent. At the start of the season just 33% of Premier League players were English, the lowest from
any major European league. Instead of looking for potential stars hidden in the midst of lower league football, they look to foreign leagues were the intensity of English football is simply not the same. Players like Jamie Vardy, Troy Deeney and Chris Smalling show that given the chance, non-league footballers can perform at a higher level. Perhaps Vardy’s newly founded academy V9, which gives semi-professional footballers a chance to impress Premier League scouts, may be just what the Premier League needs.
The winter break that is so vital to keep international stars from fatiguing in other European leagues, is perhaps still one of the reasons England have been failing to fulfil their potential in major tournaments. The festive period is arguably the best part of the season for ardent football fans, making for exciting occasions around Christmas and New Year and would spark outrage should it be removed from the schedule. But an early to mid-January break could be just the rest that players from the top clubs need. Players from La Liga, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga all benefit from a winter break and historically perform better in summer tournaments. There was not a Premier League player of any nationality in either of the previous World Cup team of the tournaments, and only Steven Gerrard made the squad (23) of the tournament in the 2012 Euros.
There will no doubt be many who would rather the best league in the world, for a thrilling nine months, than a month of glee that could unify the entire country. There is absolutely no reason why we couldn’t have both though, with the Premier League television rights being sold for £5.136bn, making sure every Premier League team will be in the top 25 richest European teams. If a large percentage of that cash injunction is invested in youth, the future could be bright for Roy Hodson’s men.