The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

MUCH is made at the top level of the re­cruit­ment of English play­ers. Liver­pool top this sum­mer’s home re­cruit­ment with four sign­ings (Clyne, Mil­ner, Ings, Gomez). Wat­ford on the other hand have made 11 for­eign sign­ings.

In to­tal, 77 per cent of the 125 sign­ings made by Premier League clubs were not English with Chelsea, Ar­se­nal and Manch­ester United – three of last sea­son’s top four – fail­ing to sign a sin­gle English player.

So what is the re­al­ity of what is go­ing on? Is it sim­ply that our home­grown play­ers are not good enough to be given an op­por­tu­nity, or are there other fac­tors?

There is un­ques­tion­ably a fi­nan­cial fac­tor to the sit­u­a­tion. English play­ers do get snapped up very young by agen­cies nowa­days who are highly com­mer­cial and very pro­fes­sional and thor­ough in their sup­port of their tal­ent. Play­ers get high ex­pec­ta­tions of their earn­ings and be­come ‘pricey’.

The same is not al­ways the case for play­ers from over­seas. Rep­re­sen­ta­tion can of­ten be less com­mer­cial and, as a con­se­quence, the deals avail­able on play­ers leads to more of them be­ing gifted open­ings.

But we shouldn’t get away from the real fact that we still aren’t pro­duc­ing the tal­ent that is be­ing pro­duced over­seas. As hard as we are try­ing over here, in the end, we are not suc­ceed­ing in de­vel­op­ing play­ers who are as good as those from fur­ther afield.

I en­joyed a pri­vate chat with a very well known foot­balling fig­ure over the sum­mer. He gave me great in­sight into the dif­fer­ences be­tween Span­ish kids and English kids from his ex­ten­sively knowl­edgable point of view.

He put the main dif­fer­ence down to priv­i­lege, hunger and work ethic. He pointed to less priv­i­lege, and more hunger in Spain. More hunger lead­ing to more will­ing­ness to run through a brick wall to be­come bet­ter.

He pointed to the keys at Barcelona; not just a phe­nom­e­nal abil­ity to re­tain the ball, move flu­ently and score clin­i­cally, but an in­built at­ti­tude to run hard and fast to pres­surise op­po­si­tions as a pack, to work with fe­ro­cious in­ten­sity with­out the ball.

We must make sure in Eng­land that we DO con­tinue to im­prove the tech­ni­cal and tac­ti­cal sides to our game. But we must never for­get that we were revered for the Bull­dog spirit; we were renowned for our work ethic; we were feared for our char­ac­ter and ap­petite.

Our young foot­ballers must see the big pic­ture and make sure that they re­alise just how hun­gry oth­ers are around the world to get to the top.

Priv­i­lege en­cour­ages com­pla­cency.We must en­sure that we breed de­sire.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

NEW BLOOD: Joe Gomez’s switch from Charl­ton to Liver­pool was a rare English re­cruit­ment over the sum­mer

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