While on Manchester United’s foray in Japan for the World Club Championships, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has once again reiterated that he would like to see a limit on foreign players in the starting XI’s in the Premier League, with the United boss all in favour of having to field 6 British players in the starting XI.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's match against Gamba Osaka Ferguson said: “I think it should be a concern when local and national players are not given opportunities, so therefore eventually there have to be limitations on foreign players. That way clubs' youth systems are protected. Progress is progress and the future has to protect the national game.”
Even though we all know this contravenes EU law and is highly unlikely to be introduced. What would happen in the Premiership if it, was introduced today?
The first club that springs to mind would be Arsenal, having fielded an entire team of foreign imports on more than one occasion. However, they do have 11 players from the British Isles in the first team squad, though not one of these players is out of their teens yet. So while they have youngsters coming through they would struggle to have six British players start for them in the Premier League and be competitive. Leaving them to field their Carling Cup kids to meet the quota.
Chelsea, don’t even have the option of fielding British youngsters, because they simply don’t have any. While they do have 5 England Internationals at Stamford Bridge if you look further than that they only have 2 other English players in the first team squad. Yes they also have Michael Mancienne on loan at Wolves, but with Luiz Felipe Scolari willing to send a player out on loan that has pushed himself into the thoughts of England boss Fabio Capello, with his performances for the Under-21’s. What message does that send to the British schoolboys at the club?
You then look at Liverpool and it would appear that Rafa Benitez’s side would struggle immediately if this quota was introduced. Only 8 English players and Irishman Robbie Keane in the squad, with only Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher along with Keane likely to be in Rafa’s starting line-up on any given match day. In fact no British talent has emerged from the Red half of Merseyside and been used by Liverpool consistently since Gerrard and Carragher along with Michael Owen burst on to the football scene many years ago now. They have 7 British players out on loan, but we all know these players are highly unlikely to feature for the Reds in the future.
So now to Blackburn, who you might have thought, would have a British heart and soul? Not at all, only 6 English players, 3 Irish and a Welshman and of these they could just about scrape together the required 6. For 3 of these 10 players are goalkeepers and Danny Simpson is on loan. So Blackburn would struggle to as they are now anyway if this quota were to be introduced.
So is it any surprise that Ferguson would like to see this quota introduced, with the knowledge that as it stands now it would severely impair his three closest rivals, while having little effect on his own side
If you go through the rest of the squads in the Premier League most clubs would be ok, with all the other clubs having enough British players on their books that either play for the first team or have a realistic chance of playing in it. Tottenham might have the best of it, with Spurs able to field 7 England Internationals, 3 England Under-21’s, 2 Welsh Internationals and a Scottish International if all fit. Although one of the Under-21’s is on loan, but could still field a very strong side as they have the players there to choose from. Aston Villa would find it very easy to, with their current crop at Villa Park.
So regardless of whether a quota is ever introduced shouldn’t clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, Blackburn and to a lesser extent Arsenal as the Gunners have a crop of English youngsters coming through, be looking to produce some real home grown talent and not be looking abroad every time, when trying to find new recruits for their clubs? Not just for their progression, but for the progression of the game in England.
The New Voice Of Football column at FootballFancast.com