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May 092014
I am just not going to get into the FA Chairman's plan in depth really. I know there are plans to limit foreign players, expand the English footballing pyramid to fit Premier League youth sides and a number of other relatively cosmetic patch-up jobs to essentially fix a problem that has been front and center of the English international game for generations; young English players were being pushed out for years. Their participation in the top-flight of English football has been marginal for the last generation and now that's also translating to fewer options at the Championship level and below; so leadership has responded by becoming more nativistic, more anti-foreigner?

You don't solve that problem by becoming more close-minded. They've basically created a system where the best players in the world can play amongst each other, especially against the best English ones that can adapt and now they essentially want to ban Johnny-Foreigner and you'll return to the 1970's when England struggled to qualify at all. When Germany had a similar crisis at the end of the 1990´s and early 2000´s they sent a delegation to Spain. and they realized that while their European rivals at the time had never won anything at international level they had made an impact at the youth level.

This wasn´t just lip service as many do to FC Barcelona´s youth system at La Masia or Real Madrid´s academy but as a whole, up and down the pyramid watching what Athletic Bilbao´s famed cantera produces, or Espanyol´s, Sporting de Gijon´s, Valencia´s or a dozen others, Spanish football is not about a brand of football, a style of playing, some hipster keyword like ¨ticky-tacky¨ or anything like that. Even clubs whose philosophy is more direct, produce technically proficient players that can handle critical game deciding situations very early on. Are they as tactically aware as their Italian counterparts or athletically gifted as their English counterparts? No, but the Spanish believe that all that can be accomplished when they are more developmentally ready for it. They stock the Spanish U-21 international team and have done for practically half a generation.

The way forward isn´t to allow for more slots so that 18-24 English players can experience top-flight football in the Premier League. As many have said, if you´re trying to get them playing time at that age, it´s too late. It´s not about wages- foreign players are cheaper, or favoritism- foreign coaches prefer their own, it is simply that they aren´t skilled enough. Invest your time and energy in coaching kids earlier on. Teach them the basic fundamental skills, the tools of their trade earlier and slowly introduce competition to the mix.

It's not even trying to get England playing like the Spanish, or the Italians, or the French, styles are intrinsic, but getting them ready for that bench on a Premier League club starts with younger and younger players each year. Coaching and academies in England need to better prepared for it.

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