The new Premier League season is now truly in full swing, Manchester United have had yet another shaky start, the inevitable relegation candidates have acutely reached their season peak and surprisingly Arsenal have only dropped two points so far this season. However, what hasn’t changed is the annual concern about the state of the English game. So, once again, the damming stats come out; only 68 out of 220 players to start the Premier League season are Englishmen (The Daily Mail), 2/3 of Premier League players are now foreign nationals and the numbers of English starters have decreased from 73.1% to 34.1% from 1992 to present (The Guardian).

More specifically, observations have been levelled Tottenham’s way of foreign nationals compared to the change in their squad from the Harry Redknapp era.  I have seen many articles showing the fact that under the previous English manager, during the game against Arsenal in which it resulted in a 4-4 draw, eight home nation players were used. Use that same analysis technique again for this year’s 1-0 defeat away at the Emirates and in comparison only three British Players started that game. This in addition to the £106m spurs summer spree which avoided English talent and the make weights being that home grown talent being interrogated, it has levelled the question; what is happening to our game, are we simply not good enough anymore? Or alternatively do we not have enough trust in our younger players?

Recently, Patrick Vieira has spoke out against the typecast that cheaper, more available and more talented foreign players are ruining the English game and has instead asked the association to look at its foundations, more specifically at its lack of qualified coaches.  England currently has 1,161 coaches at UEFA ‘A’ Level, compared to 12,720 in Spain and 5,500 in Germany and the problem deepens at pro license level, having a mere 203 coaches at this stage, with 2,140 and 1,000 in Spain and Germany respectively.  The influx of foreign players, in my opinion, has been the predominant input into keeping the current crop of England players attaining the level that they are at. The more youthful England is 10 steps behind.  All over the country there are unqualified volounteers, predominantly guardians stepping up to coach the grass root players, when no one else will, resulting in the effortless hoof and run games of football and purposeless training sessions (apologies for the over generalisation).  Is it any wonder that in an ever developing tactical game, other nations are leaving us behind?

However, I am not fickle enough to believe that the problem lies in the mere quantity of coaches, I believe that the quality of the information delivered must also be questioned and for this the FA must hold responsibility. Spanish and German football over the past ten years has changed tremendously and as pointed out by sports journalist and Spanish correspondent Guillem Balague, the style and approach to the game was changed over a decade ago and developed over time. This approach must also be adopted by the English FA.  Do not misinterpret-ate me by thinking that we can copy Spain’s model of excellence.  If we copy then we will never be as good.  We should instead play to our strengths.  We as a nation are strong, athletic, and quick.  We should adhere to these characteristics by playing a type of football suited to our strengths.  Counter attacking.  The last manager tactically astute enough to get England actually playing was Fabio Capello.  Although his attitude off the pitch had much to be desired, his football was at time exemplary, highlighted in his game against Spain in November 2011.  Although only a winter friendly, I believe England showed qualities which were well suited.  It wasn't what many would call aesthetically entertaining and pleasing as showed in our first half 75 touches in the opponents half, compared to Spain’s 348, but it was effective.  If we were to opt for this route then it would need to be implemented from the top through the coaches, as a well run business would be.  However, this kind of notion looks to be but a dream in English football.

This is just one theory, attitudes, expenses and many other variables play a huge part in the current decrease in the state of English football.  England needs to change with the times, coaching, in the quality of style and in the quantity of coaches must be focussed on before characters with the stature of Dyke start setting unrealistic targets in a time where he will be long gone.  Only then will we begin to develop and begin to see an increase in the number of English players in our beloved Premier League.