This week saw only two English clubs progress into European Football’s Premium Cup Competitions quarter final stage, but why in recent years has English football started stuttering?
Chelsea were the last team to win both the Champions League and Europa League in 2011-12 and 2013 but it is the lack of progress into the later stages that is worrying. Apart from Chelsea, no other club has made the final since the 08-09 season which now tends to be dominated by Spain and Germany. Before this though, there was an English team in the final five years in a row… One being an all English affair.
The main rationale that many suggest is the physicality of the Premier League and the lack of winter break in the UK, leading to accumulative fatigue and injuries. This has a point as many international footballers who have excelled in Europe have failed to make an impact.
Another point is the lack of elite players in England now… Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all have the top their of talent while you will struggle to find a player make it to the final three of the coveted Ballon d’Or in the current English game. The financial clout of the Premier League has helped in making the League as a whole more competitive but will it help the English game climb back to the Summit of European Football?
What’s interesting here is as a spectacle the majority regard the Premier League as the most exciting league in the world in that any club can beat anyone on any given day. This compared to Spain, Germany and France where a small handful of clubs win every year.
The final point, which also relates to this Summer’s European Championships, is football at a grass roots level. Looking at the Spanish and German teams in recent years there is no shortage of talent that has played together regularly at club and junior international level, could the fact that we promote players too quickly in England (or source internationally) also be a problem?
Three key things to think about, should we add breaks to the English season? Can the new TV money help attract the best players back to the Premier League? Or should we nurture young local talent?