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Paul Scholes exclusive: Why Premier League clubs that buy average foreign players are killing England’s World Cup dreams

The former Manchester United and England midfielder believes Premier League clubs need to put more faith in home-grown talent or the international side will struggle on the world stage.

by Paul Scholes | June 26, 2014

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, believes that proposed changes to the league system could help England win the World Cup in 2022.

From what I’ve seen at this World Cup, we’ll be lucky to qualify. I fear England are going the way of the Republic of Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

England can take some positives from the World Cup. Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Barkley (even though he didn’t start the first two games) are a sign of the future – fast, intelligent footballers.

Ross Barkley

But otherwise I’m struggling.

Roy Hodgson is a likeable man who’s very good with the press. But if this was Fabio Capello he’d be getting pelters.

Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay are not special teams.

We’re probably on the same level. But England have not managed to get in front in any of our World Cup games. When I said go for attacking youth in our team formation I thought we’d at least get one result.

What’s the problem? Where do I start…


Compared to La Liga and the Bundesliga, English players are not getting enough first-team time in the Premier League. We’re going backwards from 1990 and the era of Paul Gascoigne and that ‘conveyor belt of talent’.

Simply, the Premier League is riddled with average foreign players. This is having such a detrimental effect on the first-team opportunities for young English talent, and our international results.

Let’s take the example of Jesse Lingard. He’s a 21-year-old, Warrington-born Manchester United player who was farmed out on loan to Brighton.

Jesse-Lingard 840

Last season at United, Lingard went on the pre-season tour, scored goals, and looked really sharp. At that time he was a better prospect, in my mind, than Adnan Januzai, but he didn’t get the chance.

I’m not questioning the talent of Januzai, but Lingard, if given the opportunity, could have done well in the first team. With his ability, Lingard deserved to challenge Shinji Kagawa for a place.

Cheap shot

Far too often, good English prospects are put out on loan to Championship clubs, or elsewhere, at the expense of very average imports.

The proposed £34m transfer for the 18-year-old Luke Shaw to Manchester United is another example of something which has a bad long-term impact.

Clubs are priced out of this market which is why they go abroad for cheap options – they’re not better players. For a left-back to be worth £34m shows how silly the game has gone. For that money I want a centre-forward who’s going to score 30 goals a season.


Milking the cash cow

Greg Dyke’s comments on England winning the 2022 World Cup followed a four-point plan from the FA with the ambition of improving the future standard of English football. It suggests a ban on non-European Union players outside of the top flight and a reduction in non-homegrown players in Premier League squads.

Players as talented as David Silva, Robin van Persie, Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard only make the Premier League stronger.

But it seems like the Premier League is known as a market for average players (or their agents) to say:

I know, I’ll go to England and they’ll pay me stupid money to play.

The Premier League is a cash cow and it’s hurting our national game.

Yes, we should limit the amount of foreign players allowed in each Premier League squad. Clubs will then only sign the best, and English talent gets priority for development.

Lower teams might be annoyed – but the best players are only going to go to the top teams anyway.

Roy Hodgson

Identity crisis

As it is, I can’t see how we’re going to get enough good English footballers into the top teams to get the international results we want.

The FA Commission report from May references the progress of football reforms in Belgium, France and Germany. We can, of course, learn from others, but as I’ve said previously, England needs to build its own identity.

There’s a massive opportunity and the message needs to come from Roy Hodgson through the academies.

Give England its own football identity. Tell the world – this is how we play football. Build a team around our best players, don’t change styles every two years based on copying another team that does well. Let’s make up our mind and stick with it.

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  1. Moses said on June 26, 2014 @ 12:09 pm

    Nope, don’t agree with that, because most English players are average players but the English media is doing a good job in Hyping their average players( wish am not totally against), some foreign average players in the premier league are far better than their English counterpath. just my opinion

  2. Result! said on June 26, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Paul, I hope the English game does go the way of our game north of the border. En-ger-Lund is a joke with the astronomical wages and average players – Scottish football might have no superstars anymore but at least the teams get tore in – give me Ross County v Inverness and high octane tackles on a wet Wednesday over a boring 0-0 between West Ham and Newcastle where players are more interested in their £40,000 plus wages. If nothing else, it’ll teach everyone a lesson. You should come out of retirement – play up here and get that feel for career ending challenges you used to put in.

    On a lighter note – agree about Jesse Lingard. Some player.

  3. Canojuice said on June 26, 2014 @ 12:46 pm

    Scotland ? Unbeaten in a year and storming up the FIFA rankings, thanks Paul.

  4. sim2kuk said on June 26, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    So Southampton should just sell Shaw to United for a cheaper price for what reason? We want to keep him, so we’re putting the price up to be prohibitive. If United then go and pay that who’s fault is that?

    Funny how this transfer is an issue when it looks like it’s his old club that will be paying it. As the heading says, it’s a ‘cheap shot’.

  5. Ian Probert said on June 26, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

    I totally agree.

    Quite apart from a dearth of real talent what we are genuinely lacking is a national identity. In other words a system of playing football. Look at the Germans, the Brazilians, the Italians, the French and even before the whistle is blown you can predict the way that they are going to play. And all of these nations are prepared to fall on their swords playing the style of football that they want to play.

    We no longer have that. Our national team is a reactive rather than a proactive team. We play kick and run football. We watch what are opponents are doing and vainly try to match them. Outplaying them is simply out of the question.

    We need a return to genuine English values: our strength is not keeping the ball in the way that Spain keeps the ball. We traditionally play with speed, passion and strength. Not too long ago other international teams did not look forward to competing against these qualities. They knew they were in for a hard night. The knew that victory would not come easy. This, I’m my opinion, is the only way forward.

  6. Patricia said on June 26, 2014 @ 3:18 pm

    I agree 200% with Scholes, BRILLIANTLY SAID, Lindgaard : i was looking forward to see Roy pick him?? or any of the other young guns (MUN should look in their under 21s invest in them) MUN- FAN Johannesburg SA.

  7. Farid said on June 26, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

    Like said, so much money for a left back shows desperation. England need a good Manager. Said that.

  8. David said on June 26, 2014 @ 8:24 pm

    If Shaw signs for United and stays for 10 years then it equates to 3.4 mill a season. not bad in my book

    United could spend that same amount on dud after dud and get nowhere.

    Scholesy you’re a legend but i disagree with you on Shaw.

  9. John said on June 26, 2014 @ 11:50 pm

    Excellent article Paul. Very good point in Jesse vs. Adnan.

  10. TJtheRed said on June 27, 2014 @ 12:28 am

    Absolutely spot on, you can expect this dry honesty only from Paul Scholes.

  11. Robbie said on June 27, 2014 @ 3:10 am

    Bang on the money.

  12. Anonymous said on June 27, 2014 @ 8:35 am

    England do have an identity. They can’t keep the ball, if you pressure them they resort to the long ball and ultimately give you the ball back.

  13. Tom said on June 27, 2014 @ 9:43 am

    The ‘Premier League’ is the so called best league in the world. If that is true then English players are heavily over represented already.

  14. Saintus said on June 27, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    Ignorant and arrogant article that typifies the attitude of the big clubs. What scholes should be doing is praising Southampton for doing it the right way and developing english talent by giving them a chance in the first team. We’ve invested in him so we can charge what we want, not give them away to the big clubs because “thats where they are going to end up anyway”. Absolute ludicrous article.

  15. mufcforever1 said on June 27, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    I much preferred Paul Scholes when he didn’t talk, his views are a bit too real for the world and he would be much better off talking behind the scenes (like he used to) to players as a coach. His comments get changed by the papers to make him seem silly but he has a valid point.

  16. Joe said on June 27, 2014 @ 11:32 am

    Interesting prospect

  17. Anonymous said on June 27, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

    Agree with Paul about the average foreigners stunting the progress of young English prospects. Unfortunately paying a premium on a top (or prospective top) English player has been around for a long time (Collymore/Heskey/Shearer etc) and shows no sign of slowing down.

    Hopefully with Van Gaal a believer in young players a lot of Uniteds talent will get a chance this year…

  18. manchester dale david edwards said on June 27, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

    Scholesy your an absolute genius and it shows in your analysis of anything hahaha this blog is magnificent finally I can hear media shy scholes opinions keep it up pal!!!!!!!! Mufc for life!

  19. Alan said on June 28, 2014 @ 2:06 am

    Paul, I agree that the proposed ‘B’ teams aren’t the solution bu don’t you feel that imposing a limit on foreign players would only serve to further increase the artificial premium on transfer fees for British players?

  20. Anonymous said on June 28, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

    How united’s buying shaw hurt the national england team? Prices are high on talent!!! prices are higher on english talent!!! why? because they are rare! Suppose united does not buy shaw. okay good, no waste of 30million. then what? it buys blind or some other nationality player at a REASONABLE PRICE maybe!!! but then you are not priviledging english players. shaw is english!!!

  21. Steven Gerrard said on June 28, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

    Well Paul, you’re just interested in making headlines. Lingard is class but Januzaj is a potential world class superstar. You are not an outspoken lad so don’t act like you are. Carra and Gaz Nev are top class pundits. Why? They’re being themselves.

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