As the debate raged this past week about just how to increase the number of English players playing in the Premier League, it has been stated that Manchester City, being the newly crowned champions, should have more English players on their team. FA Chairman Greg Dyke actually went as far as to say it was ”depressing” that City were crowned champions with so many foreign players on the team.
This view, though, is completely absurd. City won the league because they had the best team and squad; if you were to replace that team with alternate English players, then that team and squad would no longer be the best in the country. City are not trying to feed England national team — nor should they. They’re trying to compile the best squad of players that they can to win trophies, which is exactly what they did.
If anything, City are making more moves than most in regards to producing homegrown talent with their new City Academy, which opens for next season and will be one of the premier youth academies in the world. The problem does not sit with just the top teams in the league, though; it sits with everybody. If young English players cannot get into teams in the bottom half of the Premier League, then the top teams are completely out of the question.
Overall, the pool of top English players is just too small; that’s the biggest problem. The fact that there are not more top English players to choose from means that there is a premium to pay when it comes to buying those select few who are good enough. That is the reason why clubs decide to buy foreign players instead.
If you look at City’s transfers in recent seasons, Englishman Joleon Lescott cost them £22m, but Vincent Kompany was only £6m and Matija Nastasic was around £12m. James Milner arrived in a deal worth £26m, which is the same price they paid for one of the best playmakers in the world in David Silva.
City also signed one of the best strikers in the world in Sergio Aguero for £38m, which is only £3m more than the price Liverpool paid to buy Andy Carroll. There is absolutely no value in buying English players because there are simply not enough of them and the premium is just too high on the ones that are on the market.
Even now, as some young English players emerge like Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling, City could obviously pursue some of those young players. The truth, though, is that as good as they are, there will be better value in the market to be had. The premium on these players because they are English will, again, be too high.
City, of course, have bought English players in recent seasons. Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell were bought in and, so far, neither has turned out particularly well. Actually, Sinclair was a disaster and Rodwell is yet to be determined, but he has been unlucky with injuries. If Rodwell can stay fit and proves himself good enough, then he will play a part.
If the players are good enough, regardless of nationality, then they can play for any team. Joe Hart is good enough, and that’s why he plays; Milner is also good enough to play a part in a championship winning team, and that’s what he did. But overall, it is not the responsibility of City, or any other club, to feed the England national team — they’re trying to win trophies first and foremost.
If you look at the English players around right now, who is City supposed to put on their team? Which English players would even get on their team? They cannot choose players on nationality, whether they are English or not. They pick their players on quality, and right now, that means very few English players can get on their team or their squad.