People Being Stupid, Blaming Clubs

Europe's rich clubs blamed for World Cup woes - ESPN Soccernet

I read things like this...
More than half the players in the Premier League are from overseas and even the Football Association's head of development, Trevor Brooking, said that the national team faces greater problems still once the current generation of players fade.

Brooking said England is producing talented youngsters, citing last month's victory over Spain in the final of the under-17 European Championship, but these players struggle to get the topflight experience necessary to make the leap into the national side.

...and I'm stunned that the people spewing this junk have any jobs at all let alone high paying ones.

So what they're asking you to believe is that there are talented players in England, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, etc. but that experiences with non-Champions League clubs in those countries somehow disadvantage the young up and comers from those countries.  However, apparently the players growing up in Argentina, Brazil, and the other countries that dot the rosters of the "big clubs" manage to turn themselves into "proven winners" without the benefit of playing for "big teams" from an early age. 

I agree that there seems to be a bit of a lost generation within some of the European giants as players like Cannavaro, Terry, Gerrard, Beckham, Henry, Zidane, et al fade into the sunset.  Is that the fault of the clubs whose job it is to win matches and championships? 

Hardly.  In my opinion there are two things at work here...

1) The football world is getting bigger - with more countries having been involved in the game for longer and longer stretches, it stands to reason that the rest of the world is catching up.  This happened to the US in basketball and it should come as no surprise that it is happening to Europe in soccer.  Most of the "big" European nations are fairly small population-wise so to expect that the best players to continue to emerge from this small percentage of the population is highly optimistic. 

2) Resource gap is closing - it used to be that there was a huge imbalance in the resources available to up and coming European players compared to their counterparts from "lesser" soccer nations.  In comparison to some nations the basics like childhood nutrition was far superior in Europe.  In comparison to almost all nations, access to facilities, high quality trainers, and coaches with deep understanding of technique, tactics, etc.  Today, between European coaches renting themselves out, top clubs scouting much more broadly and bringing better coaches/techniques/training to high potential players of more nationalities there should again be no shock that there are more and more high quality players from other countries.

Apparently this is the cycle where these global changes and changes in the nature of the sport are catching up to tiny European countries that used to have the top spots in world locked down.  Given that some of the best players in the previous generation - Zidane and Deco are the first couple that come to mind - weren't REALLY from the countries that they represented in the World Cup doesn't it stand to reason that more and more high quality players would begin representing the actual country of their birth as those players see those countries as having a better and better shot at competing for a title?

Just something to think about as your favorite pundit tells you that there is something fundamentally wrong with the infrastructure of the European powers that are losing some of their traditional glamor this tournament.  This is only going to get worse for European powers as the rest of the world catches up.  It isn't going to get better and there's nothing that UEFA or the big clubs in Europe can do about it any more than there is anything the NBA can do about the fact that Brazil, Spain, and Argentina are closing the gap in basketball talent. 

Enjoy the rest of the tournament and prepare yourselves for more and more "surprises" in the years to come.  


  1. Miecio4:23 AM

    I blame Dave :]

  2. I love people who blame the Premier League for National team woes. The Premier League is the best league in the world and it is comprised of 37% of English players.

    Can anyone argue that 37% of the best players in the world are English? Of course not. So the argument that England is at a disadvantage because of their league is rubbish. Truth is, England has an inherent advantage over 99% of countries specifically because a disproportionate amount of English players get high level experience in the worlds best league.

    Look at leagues that have very strict rules re foreigners. Spain has very strict limits and guess what, theyve never won a World Cup and have won one major tournament in a century of competition.

    England has to accept a couple truths, as perfectly laid out in Soccernomics: given their population size, wealth and experience, England has actually over-performed as a nation.