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Paul Scholes exclusive: Why Premier League clubs that buy average foreign players are killing England’s World Cup dreams

The former Manchester United and England midfielder believes Premier League clubs need to put more faith in home-grown talent or the international side will struggle on the world stage.

by Paul Scholes | June 26, 2014

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, believes that proposed changes to the league system could help England win the World Cup in 2022.

From what I’ve seen at this World Cup, we’ll be lucky to qualify. I fear England are going the way of the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

England can take some positives from the World Cup. Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Barkley (even though he didn’t start the first two games) are a sign of the future – fast, intelligent footballers.

Ross Barkley

But otherwise I’m struggling.

Roy Hodgson is a likeable man who’s very good with the press. But if this was Fabio Capello he’d be getting pelters.

Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay are not special teams.

We’re probably on the same level. But England have not managed to get in front in any of our World Cup games. When I said go for attacking youth in our team formation I thought we’d at least get one result.

What’s the problem? Where do I start…


Compared to La Liga and the Bundesliga, English players are not getting enough first-team time in the Premier League. We’re going backwards from 1990 and the era of Paul Gascoigne and that ‘conveyor belt of talent’.

Simply, the Premier League is riddled with average foreign players. This is having such a detrimental effect on the first-team opportunities for young English talent, and our international results.

Let’s take the example of Jesse Lingard. He’s a 21-year-old, Warrington-born Manchester United player who was farmed out on loan to Brighton.

Jesse-Lingard 840

Last season at United, Lingard went on the pre-season tour, scored goals, and looked really sharp. At that time he was a better prospect, in my mind, than Adnan Januzai, but he didn’t get the chance.

I’m not questioning the talent of Januzai, but Lingard, if given the opportunity, could have done well in the first team. With his ability, Lingard deserved to challenge Shinji Kagawa for a place.

Cheap shot

Far too often, good English prospects are put out on loan to Championship clubs, or elsewhere, at the expense of very average imports.

The proposed £34m transfer for the 18-year-old Luke Shaw to Manchester United is another example of something which has a bad long-term impact.

Clubs are priced out of this market which is why they go abroad for cheap options – they’re not better players. For a left-back to be worth £34m shows how silly the game has gone. For that money I want a centre-forward who’s going to score 30 goals a season.


Milking the cash cow

Greg Dyke’s comments on England winning the 2022 World Cup followed a four-point plan from the FA with the ambition of improving the future standard of English football. It suggests a ban on non-European Union players outside of the top flight and a reduction in non-homegrown players in Premier League squads.

Players as talented as David Silva, Robin van Persie, Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard only make the Premier League stronger.

But it seems like the Premier League is known as a market for average players (or their agents) to say:

I know, I’ll go to England and they’ll pay me stupid money to play.

The Premier League is a cash cow and it’s hurting our national game.

Yes, we should limit the amount of foreign players allowed in each Premier League squad. Clubs will then only sign the best, and English talent gets priority for development.

Lower teams might be annoyed – but the best players are only going to go to the top teams anyway.

Roy Hodgson

Identity crisis

As it is, I can’t see how we’re going to get enough good English footballers into the top teams to get the international results we want.

The FA Commission report from May references the progress of football reforms in Belgium, France and Germany. We can, of course, learn from others, but as I’ve said previously, England needs to build its own identity.

There’s a massive opportunity and the message needs to come from Roy Hodgson through the academies.

Give England its own football identity. Tell the world – this is how we play football. Build a team around our best players, don’t change styles every two years based on copying another team that does well. Let’s make up our mind and stick with it.

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