EPL: Who Is England's Best Production Team Of Recent Times?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IAugust 9, 2008

In the past 15 years or so, England has been blessed with a number 'production' clubs. This is a club who produce a large group of high-quality youngsters through their academy, who go on to have long, successful careers. They are responsible for a large number of the home-grown players in the Premier League at the moment.

Note I say production clubs, rather than feeder clubs, as several of these players stayed with the clubs for a long time, sometimes even their whole career.

I have chosen what I consider to be the top four and I will look at who has been the best production club for English football. The four I have chosen are West Ham, Leeds, Manchester United and Liverpool.

First lets look at West Ham, and some of the players they have produced:

Rio Ferdinand - Now one of the best defenders in the world, with the potential to be an all-time great for both club and country. His £30 million move to Manchester United made him the most expensive British player ever, and the most expensive defender of all-time.

Frank Lampard - One of England's best midfielders and a driving force behind Chelsea's continuing quest for trophies.

Michael Carrick - Another big money mover to Old Trafford, Carrick is another one of England's highest rated midfielders now.

Joe Cole - Another player at a top club, Joe Cole is a regular England international and one of the best wingers England have.

Jermain Defoe - Another England international who shone towards the end of last season as Portsmouth breathed new life into him.

Paul Ince - "The Guv'nor" played for some of Europe's biggest clubs in Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool, winning plenty of silverware along the way.

Now lets look at Leeds, who looked like having such a bright future before having to sell up:

Harry Kewell - Recently left Liverpool, Kewell, a Champions League winner, was one of the brightest prospects in world football in his Leeds days.

Alan Smith - Former Manchester United man, Smith was another one of Europe's hottest prospects while at Elland Road. Unfortunately, like Kewell, he has been blighted with injury.

Jonathon Woodgate - Another one with a huge future which has been filled with injury problems. Still, that didn't put the mighty Real Madrid off signing him.

Paul Robinson - He has had a hard time of it lately, but Paul Robinson has been the best keeper in England, and may become again.

Ian Harte - He chose to stay at Leeds the majority of his career, but Harte was feared when in his heyday, for having one of the most lethal left foots the Premier League has seen.

Next I will look at Manchester United, whose youngsters helped them to dominance of English football throughout the nineties.

David Beckham - One of the most famous players and people of all time. Beckham has a fortune of wealth and has played for two of the world's biggest clubs.

Paul Scholes - A modest, model professional, Scholes is one of the best midfielders of his generation, and a one-club player, something we, unfortunately don't see too often nowadays.

Ryan Giggs - Another one-club man, Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history and is a true legend of the game.

Gary Neville - Yet another one-club man, this generation of stars certainly know about loyalty. "Mr. Consistent" is one of the best right backs in EPL history

Phil Neville - Gary's brother and current captain of Everton, he is a major driving force behind their push towards the top four.

Nicky Butt - A solid defensive midfielder who manged to show his quality despite having to compete with Keane, Scholes, Beckham and Giggs for a place.

And finally I look at Liverpool, and the products of their world-famous youth academy.

Steve McManaman - Former England international and former Real Madrid man with multiple Champions League medals to his name. Liverpool's highest ever assist maker.

Robbie Fowler - One of the Premier League's most feared strikers ever, with the fourth highest total of EPL goals in it's history. By five games into his Liverpool career he had recorded a hat-trick and a five-goal haul. Yes, he is a legend.

Michael Owen - Now captain of Newcastle, once Real Madrid player and Liverpool legend. Seventh on the all-time list of EPL goal-scorers, and nearing the top of the all-time England goal-scoring charts.

Steven Gerrard - Another one-club player, Stevie G is captain fantastic to Liverpool fans, and possibly soon to England fans as well. Gerrard has picked up a Champions League winners and runners-up medal, as well as numerous personal awards, including an MBE.

Jamie Carragher - Yet another one-club player, Carragher has turned himself from bench warmer to Liverpool legend in his career, he has played over 500 games for Liverpool in all competitions.

So I will leave it up to you to decide! Who do you think is the best production club of recent times?

If I have forgotten anyone please bring them up!


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