A view from another angle as to why the development of homegrown players is being halted in England.
People often talk about the romance of the English the FA Cup, but the modern English game seems to have been taken over by a far superior love-bug, and that is the Summer Transfer Market. Something completely different, and very often, not at all English!
Having spent the last six months studying, coaching and traveling in Australia and South East Asia, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world. Amongst those were Europeans, many of them being German. What struck me about the Germanic views and ideas on football, of which much is to be admired, was the genuine love they hold for homegrown players. Players who come through the academy of their local club and who go on to achieve great things for that club and for their country.
In England, I find it is the complete opposite. Fans from all over the country love the romance of the transfer market, the period in the summer when huge foreign signings head to the Premier League. Ultimately great for the Premier League but year after year more restricting for young English talent.
If a German fan is told his club is spending £40 million on a foreign player, his response will often be, ‘Why? What is wrong with our own players?’ – If a German club is preparing to spend that much on foreign export, then it can only be justified if the player is not just top flight player in world football, but one of the very best players in world football. Perhaps it is not surprising then that the most expensive transfer in the Bundesliga this summer involved a German, Mario Gotze moving from Borussia Dortmund to rivals Bayern Munich.
Certain people may think this is a self-sufficient stereotypical Germanic approach, and maybe so, but it is clearly being applied day in day out in the Bundesliga, a league that is relishing from financial efficiency as well as providing a platform for the production line of young German players.
Take Bayern Munich, champions of Germany and Europe – in their first two domestic fixtures this season they have started with no fewer than seven German internationals in each game. The German fans want to watch homegrown talent, so much so that the decision to make a Spaniard the Bayern Munich head coach this summer sparked slight controversy. And would have no doubt sparked more had it not been for Pep Guardiola’s impeccable resume. Guardiola himself muted any cries of mishap by taking it upon himself to learn the German language before his first day in charge at the club.
With all of this in mind, tt is no surprise that average attendance for Bundesliag games last season was nearing 30% more than the average Premier League game. Why? Because of incredibly low ticket pricing, as a result of low expenditure by clubs, as a result of promoting and relying on HOMEGROWN talent.
It has become a regular tradition to moan about the English national teams downfalls, and this may be well justified. BUT the same people moaning are also the ones who get excited at the thought of expensive foreign superstars coming to the Premier League, without considering the implications for young English players.
Tottenham Hotspur, with or without selling Gareth Bale, will be one of the top spenders of the EPL this summer. The clubs spending will exceed 100m having
already signed already signed Pauliniho (Brazilian), Soldado (Spanish), Chadli (Belgium) and Capoue (French), with more to follow. The result will no doubt mean that highly rated young English players Andros Townsend, Tom Carroll and Harry Kane, all academy graduates at the North London club, will find themselves too far down the pecking order, and will more than likely have to settle with Championship loan moves to prevent minimal competitive football. This, at a time, when Spurs’ U21 set up is the finest in the country. Having topped the U21 table last year, Spurs have eased off early challenges from Chelsea and Manchester City this season, scoring 10 goals in the process and with all of the above three in fine form.
So, a look on English football would suggest you-cant-have-your-cake-and-enjoy-it-too, although I’m sure the Germans may have something to say about that in coming years. With the league profiting hugely financially last season: Revenues increasing by a whopping 7%, wages costing almost half compared to the EPL and attendances being higher then anywhere else in Europe, surely the self-sufficient Germanic attitude will stand them in far superior stead to the big English spenders in years to come. Not to mention they may well have a World Cup winners medal to go with it.