I happened to have the misfortune to listen to a few minutes of David Frost's interview with Alex Ferguson on Sky the other night; on the rare occasion that Sir David wasn't drooling over the might Sir Alex's CV, he gave him rather too many opportunities to have a sly dig at his enemies. The BBC came in for a lot of stick, I mean how dare they not portray everything fergie related as residing within a golden halo? Fergie couldn't resist the odd dig at Arsenal too, and he seemed rather keen to mention our lack of English players.
It is upon this topic that I wish to vent my spleen, as it's also a common platform of attack for many illiterate tabloid hack and anti-Arsenal pundit. There's a major problem with their argument in my opinion, they think that Arsenal's lack of English players in the first team must mean that Arsenal Football Club are having a negative impact upon the quality of the English national side. I say both tottenham turkey and tripe to this argument.
James Harper, Justin Hoyte, Fabrice Muamba, Steven Sidwell, David Bentley and Ashley Cole are just six relatively recent English products of the Arsenal youth system; two of these players are regular England squad players, one has been in and out of the squad, and the others are top class players. Of the big clubs, Arsenal have arguably produced the most top quality youngsters in recent years. Only Ashley Cole was good enough to be an Arsenal regular, so just because these players no longer play for the club it does not mean Arsenal's role in developing the best in English talent can be cast aside.
For example let's look at Chelsea and Manu's contribution to developing English talent of their own in recent years. Interestingly in the current England sqaud, only Terry from Chelsea and Brown/Beckham from Manu came from their own clubs youth systems, and these players are hardly spring chickens. In fact it's remarkably hard to think of any decent English players that Manu and Chelsea have produced in the last few years; err Kieran Richardson, I'm struggling already. Fergie inherited a golden generation of talent which now appears to have dried up, while Chelsea have been dry for years.
Fergie has no right to moralise on this issue, recently both Manu and Chelsea have purchased the vast majority of the quality English players on their books, for example Cole X2, Lampard, Rooney, Ferdinand, Carrick, Hargreaves, Bridge et cetera. I fail to see how buying in the ready made English product at a huge cost does anything to help develop more high quality future England players, these players are already the developed end product, if Arsene were to go out and spend 20 million on Barry tomorrow then how would he be helping the English game?
I don't know if fergie is xenophobic or just plain stupid, what I do know is that his argument does not cut the mustard. I also find it hard to stomach the same weak argument being used by various Anti-Arsenal components in the media. The facts speak for themselves, and with the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs, Simpson, Hoyte, Randall and Lansbury coming through, I find it perverse that Arsenal continue to be accused of wrecking the English game when they continue to produce some of the best English talent around.
True, few of our English talents will be good enough for our first team, but that's because we've one of the best sides in Europe. Our critics should sort their own houses out before they start to throw around their misguided comments, or maybe they'd prefer a Premier League full of average technically incompetent Englishmen and no foreigners. Personally I don't think many people would be watching. It is also strange that so many English players took part in the Champions league final last year, is this a sign of a the very same dearth of talent?