England, the home of football. The home of 92 professional teams, and thousands of non-league teams. But is it really the home the best quality football in the world? Because while England does perhaps have the most entertaining top-flight league in Europe, does it really have the best teams?
In this article, I will be assessing the shortcomings of English football, both at international and club level, compared to the other giant nations of European football.
Let’s start with club football. I would definitely say that the Premier League is more entertaining than leagues such as La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1. That is because it has had so many different winners. Since its formation in 1992, there have been six different winners, and no team has defended their title successfully since 2009.
Compare that with La Liga where, since 2005, only two teams have won it, apart from Atletico Madrid in 2014, no prizes for guessing who they are. In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich have won nine of the last fourteen league titles, including all of the last four. In Serie A, Juventus have won all of the last five titles and in France, PSG have won the last four.
There’s an obvious trend in the big leagues in Europe in that the title rarely changes hands between more than two teams season by season. This makes them more predictable and arguably less entertaining for spectators.
The real chance for clubs to assert their European dominance is in the Champions League, where Europe’s elite lock horns to try and win the biggest prize in club football. The last time an English team won it was Chelsea in 2012. What’s more, there has been a Spanish or a German team in all of the last eight finals. The four most successful teams consist of two Spanish teams, an Italian team and a German team.
What about the Europa League, or the UEFA Cup as it was formerly known. Whilst it isn’t as coveted as the Champions League, it is still a chance for teams to succeed at European club level. A Spanish team has contested in five of the last seven finals, whilst the trophy has only been won once by an English team in the last fifteen years.
English teams no longer dominate Europe, we are no longer a force to be reckoned with. The only team we have left in the Champions League is Leicester, who currently sit in the bottom half of the Premier League. Look at Arsenal, they got battered 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern. Even Manchester United, who spent a huge amount of money on players this season, struggled to beat Rostov, a team unknown to European football fans.
Lets move on to the international stage. I am sure you don’t need reminding that England haven’t won anything internationally for over fifty years. The current World Champions are Germany, and the current European Champions are Portugal.
I don’t intend to go through the failures of England in each major competition in recent times, because it will be just as painful for me to write it as it will be for you to read it. There was something that I realized, though, about our national team.
There was only one player in it that didn’t play in England, and that was Joe Hart, whereas in the recent German squad, they had players playing in five different countries, four in England. In the Spanish team, they have players playing in four different countries, seven in England.
So what does this tell us? It tells us we need foreign players to make the Premier League good, but the big European leagues don’t need English players to make their top leagues good.
It just emphasises how poor the standard of English football really is.
This is evident if you look at the squads of the current top four. Just a side note, I am not including players any of these teams have loaned out.
Chelsea only have six English players, and three of them are youth players. Man City have five English players, Tottenham have eight and Liverpool have twelve. It seems the more ‘well off’ teams have less English players, as they would clearly much rather spend their money on quality players from elsewhere in Europe.
If you look at the previous Premier League top goalscorers, only one of them has been English in the last sixteen years, and that was Harry Kane last season.
I could reel off facts similar to that all day, I really could.
The simple fact of the matter is that England aren’t a big nation in terms of producing quality football and top footballers. Whilst the Premier League is quite often very entertaining, we simply can’t compete with the big teams in European football now.
So why do we find ourselves in this situation? I think a lot of it is down to money. The clubs that have it spend it on big names from the continent as oppose to putting it into developing youth players for the future. The big teams in the Premier League aren’t investing in youth as much, therefore less exciting homegrown talents are produced by top sides.
Instead, lower league clubs develop these players only for them to be snatched by Premier League sides for big money and then loaned out season after season, Chelsea being the biggest culprits of this.
There are still exciting English players emerging, take Dele Alli for example, as well as Jordan Pickford and Trent Alexander-Arnold, John Stones too. There just needs to be more of them.
England need to reassert their dominance in Europe, both nationally and at club level. The national team are, quite frankly, boring. I don’t even bother watching them.
You just know we will win all of our qualifying games, go to the World Cup, get knocked out in the group stages or last 16, sack the manager, hire a new one, and repeat the cycle.
England fans need excitement, but that will only stem from the Premier League becoming more competitive with other big European leagues.
What do you think? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!