Three out of our four Champions league teams, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City all lost their opening fixture in the Champions League this week to what should be substantially weaker opposition.
What can this be attributed to? Most likely some nerves, maybe an underestimation of the quality of the opposition or perhaps it was just a bad night.
Well they all might be the case but the fact of the matter is that English clubs are struggling in Europe, again!
Quality of the Premier League diminishing
There are fascinating things going on in the Premier League at the moment, there is more money than there has ever been and while the league itself is becoming more exciting, the quality is getting ever so slightly lower.
Why? Because we have a unique situation in which Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have the lions share of world class players in football. They are paid well, they play good football and every player wants to go there. That includes players from England.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for teams to buy the best players in Europe as their first choice is always one of the big three.
What that means is that the caliber of players left available isn’t world class and yet due to the money in the Premier League, clubs still pay top dollar for them, particularly young ones.
New TV deal assisting the ‘lower-level’ clubs and investment in other leagues
With the new TV deal coming to the Premier League it also means that lower clubs can afford these players, that means that top players are coming to lower clubs and the Premier League as a whole is becoming more competitive.
While that is a essentially a good thing, it means the big English clubs have to pay far more for players purely based on their reputation and the fact that other clubs can already match a certain price. This means value for money on those players is going way down.
Not only that, but we are investing in other national leagues in which they invest the money in themselves and develop their youth. They have a good youth system, they develop a good young player we buy him for an extorniate price and the cycle continues.
Perhaps if the Premier League levels out to the point that many teams are competing to win then that will be more appealing to certain players, it will definitely be more appealing to fans.
Such will be the demand of certain clubs however, their expectation could be too much too handle and the money they need to spend every transfer window just to keep up could end up having an adverse effect.
No money spent on the country’s young players
The real problem is that while we run other leagues by spending so much and while we are no longer the elite in Europe, English players are suffering, no money is being spent on our youth and any youth players who emerge can not get in the team for the new £40million wonder kid from France that has arrived.
A wonderkid, who only looks so wonderful because he actually has the opportunity to play.
So the future for England looks bad and the future of the Premier League looks – okay.
So, time to invest in youth?
But there is a solution to both and it needs to start now. The solution? Invest in youth, lay out a plan for the future, forget the immediate and focus on the long term.
The only way we are going to compete with Barcelona and Real Madrid is if we produce the players that can, not if we buy them. And if we produce players who can play as well as those in Barcelona then our England squad will be quite good too. They don’t all have to be English but the majority most likely will be.
We’ve seen it from Manchester United all those years ago when the class of 92 emerged and English football was on top for a long time, and now we see Barcelona have taken the reigns. It looks as though Germany are next. It’s time for it to be England again.
Investment must be instilled in more than one youth player
It needs to be lots of players and not just one. One good player will be bought by Real Madrid and ruined in the British media. Lots of players will stick together and light up the most competitive league in the world.
Suddenly the Premier League will be by far and away the most competitive and by far and away the best. When this happens, those years in the wilderness spent developing will be well worth it.
This piece was first published at the excellent The Players Only Club here.
Written by Jonny Troy
Follow Jonny on Twitter @Jonny_Troy
Check out his excellent football blog, where this piece was originally published: The Players Only Club
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