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Michael Duberry Column: Why English football must rebuild
6:00pm Wednesday 16th October 2013 in Football
When the Premier League started in 1992, the opening day fixtures contained 177 English players in the clubs’ starting line-ups, which was 73.1 per cent of the league.
On the opening day of this season, that figure was down to only 77, a measly 34.1 per cent.
Something needs to be done now that the influx of foreign players appears to be affecting the national team and their progress.
FA chairman Greg Dyke has put together an eight-man committee to map out the future of English football.
My old gaffer Glenn Hoddle is on board, as is my old Leeds United teammate Danny Mills.
Former Crewe manager Dario Gradi, League Managers’ Association chairman Howard Wilkinson, new PFA chairman Ritchie Humphreys, Football League chairman Greg Clarke and FA vice-chairman Roger Burden make up the rest.
I would like to see Gary Neville, Sol Campbell or even a current senior England player like Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard on there too.
Any of those would give a fresh and different opinion of what could be done.
That isn’t a criticism of the existing line-up, as I feel they all offer a view based on their experiences, but some new opinions would be beneficial.
Who better than those players who came through the ranks when the league started, and not only saw the changes but have felt their effect. More importantly, they know what it takes as a young English player to overcome the odds and make the grade in the top flight. It takes more than just ability – you need mental toughness and discipline too. I can vouch for that. I was at Chelsea when the league started and noticed the changes happening.
Every team had their foreign star, maybe even two or three, but the start of the Premier League changed that.
It was then that a rule should have been brought in to limit the number of foreigners in each team.
Maybe it was blurred vision or just greed in the quest to create the world’s best league.
Yes, it is the best, but only now are we realising it comes at the price of our national team and the development of our own players.
When I looked at the FIFA rankings to compare England’s position in 1992 to now, I was very surprised.
They were introduced in 1993, and England were then 11th in the world. Now, we’re 17th.
The likes of Greece, Switzerland and USA are all above us.
So, what’s the solution?
I think it’s far too late to restrict the number of foreign players, as virtually all the top clubs would oppose such a move. They have too much money invested in their overseas stars.
Employment laws and other legal barriers would make it far too difficult now, anyway.
Let’s start with the foundations – the young players at the clubs who are OUR future.
I would restrict the number of youngsters clubs can bring in from countries like France, Italy and Holland which would give home-grown players a chance to get the best football education.
Right now, young English players have to fight for a spot in the youth team with players that are brought and sometimes BOUGHT from overseas.
That isn’t right. Countries like Germany, Spain and Italy don’t do it, so why do we?
Players coming through their national ranks together can eventually star in the senior team together, so our national under 18, 19 and 21 teams could start winning tournaments just like the Germans, Spanish and Italians.
Our clubs’ reserves and youth teams need to be full of top English youngsters and we must make sure their path isn’t blocked before they are given a chance to shine.
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