I just read Goutham Babu's great article, "Which is the Best League in Europe?" The general view from the poll and the comments was that the Premiership is the best league in Europe, but it made me think about what the Premier League has actually done to English football in general.
I am not a big fan of the EPL, but the standard of action in the Premiership is greater than that of the other main European leagues. I can't really say it is better,
but what it has done has made a lot of foreign (not English) players better
as they now have to play at a higher tempo and deal with the more physical level of English football constantly.
With the overall skill level of the non-British European footballers being generally better than the homegrown talent of the British Isles, the added element of
the EPL's pace, tempo and physicality means they have an added advantage when it comes to International football.
Unfortunately, the English footballers play at that pace and intensity all the time from a young age and they never really hone their skills like they do on the continent. If they played at a slower pace (at least at youth level and lower) the players would
develop their skills better.
It is undeniable that the football is better in Serie A and La Liga but the product is better in the EPL. I know that Serie A improved greatly with the influx of foreign mercenaries in the '70s and '80s but the three foreigner rule meant that it was only the best of the best on offer.
Now in the post-Bosman era Europe, we have a situation where the idea of the EPL improving the home grown talent by adding foreign footballers is negated.
The sheer number of foreign nationals playing for English clubs is staggering.
Of the top six clubs currently in English football, Arsenal have six out of 32 Englishmen in their squad, Aston Villa 16 out of 28, Chelsea five out of 25, Everton 13 out of 29, Liverpool six out of 30, and Manchester United have 14 out 36.
But Manchester United have at least five first team players I hear you say.
That is true. But in their last game, the loss to Fulham, they only fielded
two Englishmen in the starting lineup with Rooney coming off the bench.
Arsenal are even worse in their last game they had one English national in their team, Kieren Gibbs who never even got off the bench.
Now I am not advocating a 'no foreigners' rule for the Premiership. It is partly because of this open-door policy to all the best players in the world that the Premiership is such a big draw. However, Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President, is advocating a '6+5 rule' which would see six home-grown players in every team and five foreign nationals.
Though it galls me to agree with Mr Blatter, I feel this would be a great thing for the English game.
It would mean that only the best foreign footballers would grace the Premiership and the better English footballers would be at the bigger clubs and get the chance to play in Europe on a regular basis and learn from the best footballers in the world.
This would be in the same way Italy's national team improved in the '80s, and this could only improve the English national team in the same way.