Soapbox: one league where Chelsea and Arsenal are bottom

For he is an Englishman – unless he plays for Arsenal and Chelsea, writes Pete Sixsmith, borrowing from Gilbert and Sullivan (though didn’t Sullivan have a spoonful or two of Italian blood?). Ah, but Pete’s not on about light opera. He’s just been studying the Premier League squad lists, where “homegrown” assumes an elastic definition and Englishmen form an ethnic minority …

Lots of interesting things in the papers today:

* Derbyshire’s improbable win at Gloucestershire after being skittled out for 44 in the first innings

* Real Madrid having the audacity to suggest that Harry Redknapp was being economical with the truth over the Van der Vart transfer by denying that Bayern Munich had ever made a bid for him

* William Hague making it clear that there was nothing untoward in his relationship with his special adviser, even though they did share a hotel room during the election campaign.

I should come out now and make it clear that I am not in, and never have had, an improper relationship with Mr Peter Horan, despite sharing a room with him on numerous pre-season tours and other typically male events.

However, we did have to move heaven and earth at the Days Inn in Belfast to get two single beds rather than a double – or was it the other way round, I forget.

The main piece that caught my attention was the composition of the Premier League squads. The Guardian listed all the names and even produced a handsome circle graph to show you, er, graphically who is the most and least domestically oriented club.

We come out sixth with 58 per cent of our players homegrown. This means that they have spent three seasons or 36 months at any English or Welsh affiliated club before their 21st birthday.

Our homegrown lot includes Northern Irishmen George McCartney and Trevor Carson and the Irish Republic’s Andy Reid, who qualify as homegrown because they came over as 16 year olds. David Meyler will fall into this category when he turns 21.

The most surprising name on the list is that of Robbie Weir. He is a Northern Ireland Under 21 and B International, who seems to have been around for ages, without ever looking as if he would get into the first team. He had a poor game for the Reserves on Tuesday night, but he must be well pleased with his listing.

According to the Grauniad (and it got our list wrong!) the Mags have the highest proportion of homegrown players with 70 per cent. Fabio Capello must be drooling in anticipation of including the likes of James Perch, Danny Guthrie and Shola Ameobi in his next Euro squad (although Nile Ranger looked the business the other night).

Predictably, Professor Wenger and his Arsenal Ecole des Sciences come out badly, with a mere 35 per cent of his squad homegrown and none of them English. The likes of Gibbs, Wilshere and Walcott don’t need to be named, which does distort it a little bit.

By far the worst are Chelsea, with 21 per cent of their squad homegrown. Take Cole, Terry and Lampard out and the only one who fulfils that requirement is the third choice keeper, Ross Turnbull. Chelsea doing it for England? Ha!

I am in favour of this system. Hopefully it will make clubs take more time over their younger players. All three North East clubs have invested heavily in their academies. Middlesbrough have produced a number of very good players, the Mags have turned out some decent ones and we are beginning to produce solid, steady midfielders and small forwards. It has to be the way forward.

Now that the window has shut, there is time for some studied reflection on what we have got. I can’t imagine that there will be a need to spend again in January unless we are offered Iniesta as a part exchange for David Healy.

Most of the players who were contributing little have gone, either permanently or on loan. Now we can begin to build a side and tweak instead of remodelling every four months. This is where the manager and his coaching staff show us if they really are any good, starting at Wigan a week on Saturday. There are worse places to go.

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6 thoughts on “Soapbox: one league where Chelsea and Arsenal are bottom”

  1. Yes, take three current England international out … Take caffeine out if coffee and it’s decaffeinated. Take the ‘o’ and you’re left with what this writer has made of himself by such a pathetic suggestion.

  2. I’m not really too disappointed with Waghorn leaving ; in my own humbel opinion , I htink he will make a good Championship player at best .
    I saw him play for the youths 2 seasons ago at home to Man City – and he only looked average amongst his age group . City had some excellent players that night – wonder what will happen to all those young prospects with the new City regime ??

  3. Healey’s situation interests me. It is obviously sensible to include him in the squad. There is room and he still collects his pay cheque. Our lack of back up goalscorers that had me whinging like a tart elsewhere, has been allieviated by the signing of Gyan obviously, but exacerbated by the injury to Frazier and the sale of Waghorn. Whilst Welbeck is next in line should one of the two main men have to miss a game or three, it looks like Healey will keep a seat warm on the bench and provide some sort of cover should SB need another forward to come on. I have to admit I have only seen him for a few short minutes when he has come on as a sub a few times. Can he really do a job for us if we are chasing a game or will he merely be there to rest Bent’s tired legs when we have a two goal cushion after 80 minutes?

  4. Whilst Arsenal may not have many English players in our list we have quality home nurtured players such as Gibbs, Wilshere, Jay E Thomas, Henri Lansbury thats just some of the names you will here about. After the world cup I think you see why Arsenal dont have many England internationals they are mostly women and money driven. sadly this is the state of the game as soon as English players give up the playboy lifestyles will we progress. Also a lot of the blame goes with mordern technology. When I was a kid I came home from school got change and went and played football other Hackney Marshes. Now kids get home turn on the Playstation and play Fifa. we need to look at our european cousins spain and learn from them

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