Taylor wrong on England and the Premier League

Former England manager Graham Taylor – a man for whom I have a great deal of respect – has become the latest to chime in with the view that the Premier League’s internationalisation is to the detriment of the England team. This view is almost universal – yet it is utterly wrong.

The problem is the other way about: it is not that Premier League clubs sign too many non-English players; it is that English players are not good enough to play in the Premier League. By seeking artificial solutions to the first, people are missing the fact that what is actually required is a solution to the second.

As ever, let us repeat the evidence that, in living memory, England has never really been any good. The idea that England’s demise is somehow linked to the rise of the Premier League does not stand up to even the remotest historical scrutiny – after all, England failed to qualify for the World Cup during the Premier League’s very first season in existence!

In 1986, Liverpool won the League and Cup double (then a highly unusual feat) with a team which contained just one English player (and even he was really Australian) – no one complained then that this was damaging to the England team! Let us be clear, because the team was made up largely of players from the British Isles, no one really noticed. So the suggestion that “foreign” players now are a problem has only arisen since those players ceased to be Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish or Irish – in other words, let us be blunt, it is laced with xenophobia.

In 1994, Arsenal won the European Cup Winners’ Cup with an entirely English team except for Steve Morrow. Yet Graham Taylor’s England had not qualified for that year’s World Cup. If having “foreign players” is such a problem, why could England not qualify for the World Cup when the majority of top-flight players were English, including the near entirety of a team capable of winning European final?

The reason is that consistently – in 1986, in 1994, in 2013 – English players have been deficient in technical (and often also tactical) ability. Sheer “grit” (or, put more professionally, team-building) occasionally enabled its clubs to get away with it in the 1980s until the rest of Europe caught up even on that front; but never the international team. Remember Sweden, not a particularly football-mad country with bad weather and only a sixth of the population has reached twice as many World Cup semi-finals as England, including one more recently!

England and its FA continue to labour under utterly false delusions of grandeur, something which should have been knocked out of them sixty years ago when the team was ripped apart 6-3 by the Hungarians at Wembley. Remember, what fewer people remember is that the following year they arrogantly returned to Hungary seeking to put things right – and got battered 7-1! Technically and tactically, they have been way behind other major footballing powers since.

The Premier League does contain many of the best players in the world. The problem is that very few of the very best players in the world are English. It is not that the English are not getting the opportunity, it is that they are not earning it – because, you know, they’re not really very good.

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One thought on “Taylor wrong on England and the Premier League

  1. Macca says:

    Graham Taylor is wrong… as he was with most of his choices and decisions.
    The likes of Graham want their cake and eat it at the same time. They want to praise the ‘premiership’ as the best in the world one day and the next criticise it as the excuse for a failing Eng-ger-land team.
    The worst thing for Team England was the attitude after the ’66 World Cup Win, when to quote Ken Wolstenholme “And this means that England are the World Champions”. Yes they were…. albeit playing every game at Wembley and winning against Argentina (a much more technically gifted team, who allowed frustration to spill over and cost them a place in the semis)… But the ‘We are World Champions’ arrogance has never really left some supporters and to this day….. and for a lot more to come… allow it to hang around their necks like a badge of honour.
    That’s why Scotland, after their 1967 win over England at Wembley, announced and in some circles still do that they ‘were World Champions’.
    Ramsey’s squad in 1970 was arguably better than ’66 and only for a ‘stupid substitution of Bobby Charlton’ and goalkeeping of Sunday park standard… Well who knows!.
    it was also on that day when W. Germany after the game said… ‘That’s it….. The ghost of ’66 has gone…. We now go forward together’…. and they have never looked back.
    Where were England in the years 1974 or 1978, so when England qualified for Spain in ’82 it had been 20 years in the making…. so much for World Champions’
    1986 they were destroyed by Maradona and Co. Everyone remembers the ‘hand of God’ but how many talk of the ball that hit the post that would have made the score 3-1 Argentina.
    Need I go on with the ‘wonder’ years 1990 etc….

    There is a rumour that the Tony Blair quote of ‘Education Education Education’ really should have been, with reference to the England football team… ‘Excuses Excuses Excuses’

    I want to watch Cantona, Henri, Ronaldo, Berkhamp etc etc etc….. I don’t want to watch the likes of Carlton Palmer, Stevie Bull or Tony Dorigo…. “Do I not like that”

    Macca

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