For the French it was 1994 World Cup qualifier versus Bulgaria, for the Germans it was the humiliating Euro 2004 exit. The England national team’s four goal mulling at the hands of the Hungarians in Molineaux has been a long time coming even though the Three Lions reached the European Championships final last year. In fact that defeat masked a lot of weaknesses in the team as well as the way the English FA approach international soccer as a whole. Today I will discuss how the England team has come to this new low and how it is not actually the player’s fault at all but how the administrators have conspired against their own team. I will start with the English Premier League. Die hard English fans are tempted to blame the Premier League for the team’s poor showing in this year’s Nations League, in my opinion that is not the case. The influx of foreigners which came with the resumption of the League has actually helped English soccer, the infusion of the difference styles from flair of South American soccer to the gritty North European style. That has helped players with Brazilian style like Sancho and Rooney in recent years to combative players like Paul Ince and Declan Rice. So that scapegoat for me won’t fly one bit. English soccer has an enormous amount of games for a 9 month season. THAT IS A VALID REASON. Look I know the sponsors will be happy to see Liverpool play a 60 game season for economic reasons but to expect the same players to put on a performance in the summer for the national side is now scraping the burrow. There has been murmurs from the soccer fraternity to scrape the League Cup and they have a point. The League Cup duplicates the FA Cup and adds more unnecessary fixtures to an already congested fixture list.
Secondly, let’s face the hard truth here. England has only 4 or 5 good sides that can compete on a Europe or world scale. I don’t say that so as to diss or degrade the other teams but results show this. Since the inception of the Champions League only Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have won it. So these 4 or 5 sides inevitably acquire the best 5 to six players that the English have. That is one heck of a small pot for Gareth Southgate to choose from. So to appease the media and the “why don’t you choose others from smaller teams” brigade , he selects players who are average at best the other 15 or so premier league teams and the inevitable below average results happen. Not to mention the fact that the top sides would rather buy players from other countries so as to compete shows how little regard the Peps, Klopps and Tuchel have for English talent. So will a quota on foreign players do the trick? Yes it will work in terms of the English national team and in terms of club soccer , no. So the FA has to choose between the rock and the hard place here and unfortunately you can’t have it both ways. The Premier League thirdly should look seriously into reducing the number of teams in the league to 18 or 16. Again the sponsors will not want to hear this. Look at the German Bundesliga. They play a total of 34 games a season which is 4 less than their English counterparts, that is 4 weeks of rest (mind you they don’t have a League cup there) which is equivalent to the 4 weeks that say a world cup runs or a European championships. Lastly, this may be a more radical view of things but mandating clubs to employ strictly English players in their reserve sides will go a long way to help the English side. Look, this is not a xenophobic point of view but a pure strategic one. Statistics show this. In the just ended 2021/2022 season of the so called big 6 only six home grown players made their debut. That is a pathetic number which makes one see what miracles Gareth Southgate has done with this team. Time to reset and think hard Mark Bullingham, Qatar may be too late for adjustments but winning world cup 2026 isn’t outside the realm of possibility.