Ashley Cole, England international, and betrayer of Arsenal. Do we really need English players?
‘The English Debate’ By Kolo(c)
The English Debate, a belief that Arsenal, as a Football Team, need to sign more English players, has become an almost everlasting argument. Commentators, opposing players, other managers, and the media in general have been on Arsenal’s case for what seems like eternity, claiming that Arsenal do not have enough English players… but why? Do Arsenal really need more English players? Can we really be successful without any ‘home-grown’ players in our starting line-up? Would English players really add more ‘steel’, to what seems like a weakening Arsenal side?
In terms of previous successes, it is factually proven, that in the last 2 seasons teams with an English spine have been crowned Premiership Champions. Manchester United boast an array of many fantastic foreigners, many believed to be amongst the best players in the world. Their spine, however, consists of Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney, all of which are English, and almost act as representatives of what appears to be the reasons why the ‘Cockney Reds’ are doing so well.
In the season 07/08, it is a well known fact that Manchester United conceded fewer goals than any other Premiership Club. Is this linked to the fact that Rio Ferdinand is in the heart of the defence? Can this also be linked to the fact that Wayne Rooney tirelessly tracks defenders, forcing them to uncomfortably release the ball, thus decreasing the chances of putting together successful moves?
In addition, the team to previously win the Premiership, before reigning champions Manchester United, Chelsea, also boast an impressive amount of English players, all of which represent their country at an international stage. Players such as John Terry and Frank Lampard have not only been a great success to Chelsea due to their footballing abilities, but also appear to have the media and referees on their sides. John Terry can be traced back to many challenges that, had it been Phillipe Senderos or Kolo Toure, would most certainly have resulted in red cards. Frank Lampard can also be accused of many things, and, in what appeared to be a media scam, had a red card rescinded after appealing to the FA. Would this similar treatment have occurred had it been Cesc Fabregas being sent to the changing rooms for an early shower?
Liverpool, a team who seem to lack quality in the Premiership are renowned for their ability to win the Champions League. Can this be traced back to the fact that their captain is English? Does Steven Gerrard at the heart of the midfield give Liverpool that ‘extra edge’? Perhaps it is the ‘never say die’ attitude of Jamie Carragher that sees that Liverpool are able to do what us Arsenal fans can only dream of. Is it down to the English players, that Liverpool are able to pull off what seems to be an impossible task?
On the other hand, however, many people believe that it is perfectly fine not to have English players in Arsenal’s first team. It is often argued that due to the fact Arsenal Football Club are a football club, who must look after their best interests, it is not their duty to ensure that the nationality of the team is predominately English. Furthermore, English players in the transfer market are well known for costing a lot more than foreign players. Should Arsene really take the risk with paying more money for English players? Is it really worth troubling the clubs financial status to bolster the ego of the FA?
When reviewing Arsene Wenger’s English signings, a common pattern occurs:
– They did not do very well
– They cost Arsenal a lot of money
Francis Jeffers is often looked upon by Arsenal fans as a player who has so much promise of being a successful striker, to somebody who is often looked upon as one of the biggest flops to have ever signed for our club. In addition, Francis Jeffers also cost Arsenal £10,000,000. That’s the same as Thierry Henry, over double Patrick Vieira, and around 90x Kolo Toure. Is it really worth the risk?
Richard Wright, another English player who joined Arsenal as an English player with lots of promise. He cost Arsenal Football Club a reported £6,000,000. Unfortunately, he only made 12 appearances, and is once again considered another flop amongst Arsenal fans. Once again, putting things into perspective, this is almost 4x Jens Lehmann, rekindling the question. Are English players really worth the risk?
Meanwhile, despite Arsenal’s first team appearing to lack immediate English players, they do host a large amount of English talent, coming through the youth system. Justin Hoyte, for example, is a player who has come through the Arsenal rankings as a schoolboy, and currently lurks on the brink of a consistent Arsenal squad player. Theo Walcott is another prime example that Wenger is willing to pay money for young, English talent. The young winger/striker cost Arsenal more money than Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky combined, proving that Wenger has faith in English talent.
In addition, Arsenal also have many English players currently coming through the ranks. Jack Wilshere and Henri Lansbury have both been described as players whom Wenger hopes to blood into the first team in the season of 08/09. In fact, Mark Randall fact gained his first appearance for the Arsenal first team in the last game of the season, away at Sunderland.
Does Wenger really need to learn off the previous successes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea teams, or does our youth system prove that he has it under control? Can Arsenal really win trophies with an ‘all-foreign team’, or do we need British grit running through the system? Are English players worth the money that the transfer market value them at, or is it a better option for Wenger to do his Summer signing ‘away from home’?
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