If you want to know why Greg Dyke’s baby, another FA blueprint for the future of the game, will fail, it’s quietly summed up in this quote,
We will go round (the clubs) and try to convince them. We will ask: ‘Are you sure you haven’t got a Harry Kane playing in your youth side?
It must help negotiations mustn’t it?
A governing body which has to negotiate to get its own plan through is doomed to fail. Oh, some sort of consensus will be reached but anything which the clubs do not want, will not happen. Dyke’s changes to the Work Permit rules are being hailed as key reforms necessary to pave the way to a return to 1966. All they will do is push up prices and as was suggested during yesterday’s news coverage, the clubs have enough wealth to pay more for non-EU nationals.
The plan to include ‘B’ teams in the Football League have not seen the light of day yet but the Under-21 Premier League squads are going to be invited into the Johnstone Paint Trophy, won recently by Bristol City with a 2 – 0 victory over Walsall. How long before Arsenal and Manchester United meet in the final of that competition? Perhaps we can get Roland Rat to be Guest of Honour on that day to recognise Dyke’s contribution to improving the English game.
Dyke’s plan for increasing homegrown quotas is bound to fail. Quite simply, it isn’t in the clubs own best interests to agree to something which hampers their abilities to compete. Rightly, the FA chief pointed to the failure in the Champions League, how just one English club in three years has qualified for the quarter-finals. For a league which has proclaimed itself to be the best in the world, it’s diabolically poor performance but it’s not just down to the quality of the players, the coaches too shoulder their share of the blame.
If you look at Arsenal’s exit, the first leg defeat against Monaco stands comparison to many of the previous seasons exits – ignoring Bayern and Barcelona – with similar traits evident. PAOK, Lens, Roma, Ajax, Valencia; all defeats from the first half of Wenger’s reign, all sharing characteristics with the 1 – 3 reverse. Naivety, susceptibility to counter-attacks; it’s fundamental weakness in the manager’s approach to Europe and let’s be honest, the players he had at his disposal then in terms of a squad were much stronger than now.
Of course it isn’t all down to Wenger, the players are as culpable for their performances. Nor is he the only Premier League manager to fail but that consistent failure – whether it be in finishing second in the group stage or exiting to teams they should beat – is why a growing number of supporters don’t care about the Champions League.
It’s a competition Arsenal are unlikely to win in the near future and far from seeing the best players Europe has to offer at The Emirates, every season brings about a feeling of familiarity with Dortmund and other clubs regular opponents. That may well change with the tinkering to the seeding system and Arsenal facing a place in the second pot at best. A new top seed, potentially a tougher group to progress from. The club’s place in the top echelons may be assured financially but on the pitch, it may be at risk. But they have been saying the same about the Premier League top four spot for years, haven’t they?
The fundamental flaw in Dyke’s plan is that it still doesn’t guarantee English players a first team place at any of the top Premier League clubs. The likes of Benik Afobe or Chuba Akpom, with options at international level, qualify as homegrown under Dyke’s proposals; Roy Hodgson and his successors have no control over whether they chose England or Nigeria so how does Dyke square that away? He doesn’t, he avoids the subject.
Instead, attention is deflected toward the likes of Fábregas who currently qualifies as homegrown. It’s a ludicrous definition and is the foothold of protectionism that international football needs to survive. The Premier League doesn’t care about England, knowing that the continued failings of the national team do not dent its brand and any success will only enhance it. If that is at all possible, financially-speaking.
It won’t be long before the definition of homegrown changes to a narrower criteria although EU regulations will prevent the ‘true’ definition of just being English. It’s a nonsensical rule because of the very nature of British society with its mix of nationalities in most towns and cities. Our local leagues appear to have as many children whose heritage is non-British as those whose families have toiled these green and pleasant lands for generations.
Dyke is another FA Suit whose head remains firmly in the sand. The England team is failing because the players are not good enough technically and tactically. Until that changes – and a generation of youngsters are beginning to benefit from improved coaching at youth level – the fortunes of the national squad will continue is their slough of mediocrity. The Berkshire town can escape a quip this morning.
On to Arsenal news. Mesut Özil apparently partied the night away in Berlin just hours after Arsenal won 2 – 1 at Newcastle without him. So what. He wasn’t selected, the club gave him permission to go home and frankly if that causes you consternation, get over it.