Thursday, 5 August 2010

England World Cup Blame Game Continues

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has been defending the Premier League for England's poor performance saying it is only 'partly' to blame.

In the past weeks since England's return from South Africa everyone has been trying to pinpoint the reason for the poor performances.

The players and management have taken heavy criticism, the Premier League has been questioned and the number of foreign players in England has also been a major talking point.

However one aspect that appears to have been overlooked is the number of English players playing outside of Britain.

England were the only nation along with Italy and Germany to field only players from their national league at the World Cup.

Though Germany's squad has already been affected by their success with Boateng joining Man City and Khedira joining Mourinho at Real Madrid.

Off the top of my head I can only think of three English players plying their trade abroad. David Beckham being the obvious one at LA Galaxy, Matt Derbyshire who left Blackburn to join Greek side Olympiakos and Jermaine Pennant who now plays for Real Zaragoza.

Derbyshire has done well at Olympiakos scoring a total of 14 goals in 32 appearances since joining originally on loan in January 2009.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the former Liverpool player Pennant, who made 25 appearances last season, failing to find the back of the net.

Towards the end of the season he was reprimanded by manager  Jose Aurelio Gay after arriving late for training three times in a short period of time. However, Pennant has a reputation for trouble on and off the pitch, once having to wear an electronic tag on his ankle during a game after a drink driving conviction.

It is puzzling when you think why more English players don't play abroad. There is the demand for them, every transfer window there are rumours of one of Europe's giant clubs coming in for some of England's best players.

This summer it was Real Madrid sniffing around Gerrard, and in previous seasons Frank Lampard and Ashley Young have been attracting foreign attention.

Perhaps it is the old stereotype of English people struggling to learn new languages; Pennant confessed that speaking Spanish is the hardest part of playing in Spain.

Another reason may be that English players are almost too comfortable in England, with the large sums of money in the Premier League, most players are on very healthy wages and may not be willing to move abroad and take a pay cut, despite the offer of first team football.

Many South American players are said to move to Europe to earn more and improve their quality of life. It may be that the English players are afraid to move out of their comfort zone and turn heir backs on their home comforts that they take for granted.

It is sad to think that the reasons for such great talents coming to the Premier League and England may also be a barrier keeping English players from playing abroad.

There is also likely to be a connection with the lack of British managers abroad, as most managers bring in players that they know when taking over a new club. Look at the Spanish and Portuguese influences that Benitez and Mourinho had on Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

Economics also plays a part as English players within the Premier League are often overpriced purely because they are English, with many clubs wanting to have the best English talent. With fierce competition from English clubs and an increased price you can't blame foreign clubs for staying away from English players.

Though surely the positives of playing abroad must out weigh the negatives.

The amount players could learn by playing in a different league with different styles of play and differing tactics  is almost endless.

There is always the fear that English players may not be successful abroad, but surely that is half the challenge and reason to play abroad, To prove the doubters wrong.

Players should try to emulate the success of past players such as Gary Lineker at Barcelona, Kevin Keegan at Hamburg and Steve McManaman at Real Madrid.

Gary Lineker managed to score 21 goals 41 games in his first season with the Spanish giants Barcelona and won the Copa Del Ray and the Cup Winners Cup during his three years in Spain.

Kevin Keegan was voted the European Footballer of the Year twice whilst at Hamburg and helped the German club to the German League and a European Cup final.

Steve McManaman had a trophy filled four years at Real Madrid winning the Champions League twice and two League titles, he was also voted fans favourite player twice whilst in the Spanish capital.

I believe that if a couple more English players go and play abroad, possibly an English manager managing abroad as well, given some success, we could see a trend of English players not worrying about playing across the globe.

If this does indeed happen, then surely it will have a positive impact on the national side with the players having a wider knowledge of different tactics and styles of play.

Perhaps when trying to find a solution to the nations World Cup performance, we should stop looking deep into our own system, but encourage players to go into others.