Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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Everyone knows that Sepp Blatter is a buffoon. An example of his idiocy can be found in his repeated insistence that he will implement the 6-5 rule, which would see teams forced to play half a dozen home grown players. Doubtless a laudable concept, but Blatter is living in a dreamland if he thinks he can circumnavigate EU law regarding freedom of employment.

 On a slight tangent, all it will take is another Bosman style crusader to challenge the legality of the transfer window and its effect on EU restraint of trade laws and the whole system will collapse rendering desperate days of scandal filled scrambles for signatures such as we witnessed a few days ago a thing of the past..... and really how can Blatter justify the window, a system which effectively traps players at a particular club for months at at time without any chance of moving elsewhere, when at the same time he refers to Cristiano Ronaldo as a slave ?

Still, we digress. The proposed and ultimately doomed 6-5 rule got me thinking. Im an Aston Villa fan and believe it or not, if it hadn't been for the unbelievable last gasp transfer of Robinho to Manchester City, then the Villains would have been the biggest net spenders of the summer transfer window, splurging almost 37 million pounds more than they recouped. The primary focus of Martin O'Neills spending has been the recruitment of English players. It occurred to me that were Blatter to attain God like powers and bring about the 6-5 rule, then Villa would be in a very strong position. This led me to wondering that given the influx of foreign talent to these shores, how many Premier League clubs could name a decent English first 11 ; indeed, how many Premier League clubs could name an English first 11 at all ? I thought that Villa would probably have the strongest English team in the Premier League, but wary of my natural bias, I put this theory to the test and did some research and used each clubs official website to analyse their first team squads.

Arsenal - In this domestic players only predicament, the Gunners would be in the weakest position of them all, having only TWO englishmen in their first team squad. The youthful Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere would be the experienced members of a team largely made up of 15 & 16 year olds. 1/10.

Aston Villa - SEVENTEEN englishman are contained within the Villa first team squad and with only a couple of exceptions, they're all reguarly in contention for selection every saturday. Whats more, you have a natural player for each position. Stuart Taylor is competent, but not the most dominant of keepers. Luckily for him, he would be well protected by a back 4 right to left of Luke Young, Curtis Davies, Zat Knight and Nicky Shorey. The midfield has quality width with admittedly overpriced record signing James Milner and Ashley Young, whilst Gareth Barry, Nigel Reo-Coker and Steve Sidwell would compete for engine room berths. Gabriel Agbonlahor and the hot and cold Marlon Harewood as the strikers round off a pretty solid unit.

Blackburn - Suprisingly, Blackburn have only SEVEN englishmen in their first team squad. Paul Robinson is a reasonably safe pair of hands, but Stephen Warnock would have to marshall a defence made of reserves, whilst injury boy David Dunn is the only big name midfielder. I rate Matt Derbyshire, but Jason Roberts is championship standard. 2/10.

Bolton - The Trotters wouldn't be too badly off, with TWELVE englishmen in their first team squad. Ageing slick wolfey Ian Walker would be between the sticks whilst gangly Nicky Hunt and ex-Villain Gary Cahill would be alongside youngsters Chris Basham and Nathan Woolfe. Midfield would be the strongest area if a little lopsided with no real right sided option, featuring Gavin McCann, Fabrice Muamba, Ian Nolan and Matty Taylor. Up front perennial elbow merchant Kevin Davies would be alongside rookie James Sinclair. Not great, but you have a team. 4/10.

Chelsea - Another team who would struggle to make up the numbers as they have only SIX englishmen in their first team squad. At least with the likes of the Coles, John Terry and Frank Lampard you would have some real quality, but with half the team made of up of unknowns they would struggle. 4/10.

Everton - What are Moyes and all those Toffees whinging about, they have SEVENTEEN englishmen registered in what is one of the leagues bigger squads. Im dubious about new signing Carlo Nash in goal, but right to left, Tony Hibbert, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines is one of the best all english back lines in the Premiership. Things go slightly downhill in midfield with the experience of Phil "highlights" Neville and Leon Osman complemented by highly rated but unproven Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling. Equally well touted yet untested is the foward line of James Vaughan and Jose Baxter. 5/10.

Fulham - Slightly ambiguous sitaution on the Cottagers website with SEVEN englishman good enough to be in the "1st team squad" section, with a further four deemed other squad members. Either way, the team isn't particuarly strong with novice David Stockdale in between the posts and Paul Konchesky the senior man in defence. Central midfield looks reasonable with Danny Murphy and new England call up Jimmy Bullard, but recent acquisition Julian Gray is as good as it gets on the flanks. Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson make for a pacy strike force, but ultimately the teams inability to keep clean sheets would be its undoing. 4/10.

Hull - The Tigers may have SIXTEEN englishman in the first team squad, but the team will be largely made up of journeymen and is pretty ordinary and uninspiring. Much travelled Tony Warner in goal typifies this statement whilst the likes of Andy Dawson and Ian Ashbee have represented Hull in all four senior divisions. The forgotten eleventh man of Englands 1-5 win in Germany, Nick Barmby adds some flair to midfield, whilst scooters fat lookalike Dean Windass would feature in the foward line. Hull can make a complete english team, but not a particuarly good one. 3/10.

Liverpool - Another "Big 4" member whose cosmopolitan squad has created a dearth of english talent within its ranks. TEN domestic players are in the first team squad, yet only Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and asbo boy Jermaine Pennant have ever appeared in the starting line up. 2/10.

Man City - Given that the new arab trillionaire owners will seemingly buy everyone under the sun, the domestic player may soon go the way of the DoDo at Middle Eastlands, but for now their first team squad has TEN englishman. Teamsheet starts well with Joe Hart the last line of defence, shielded by up and coming powerhouses Micah Richards and Nedum Onuoha. Unfortunately the defence is supplemented by over-rated clonkers Danny Mills and Michael Ball. Michael Johnson and SWP are the only known quantities in midfield making that area of the pitch a little lightweight, whilst Daniel Sturridge and Darius Vassell would be maurauding up front, providing much endeavour, but few goals. 4/10.

Man Utd - Unlike their "Big 4" brethren, the Red Devils have quite an array of domestic talent, with SEVENTEEN englishmen, from which you can make a pretty decent albeit somewhat lopsided team. Ben Foster would be the man in green. Rio Ferdinand would be at the heart of defence, but two of right sided Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Danny Simpson are going to be slightly out of position. Midfield is very talented if a little narrow with Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick and Lee Martin probably having to play in a diamond in order to accomodate them. Wayne Rooney and Frazier Campbell are a decent front pairing. 8/10.

Middlesbrough - Many of the highly successfull 2004 FA youth cup winning team have remained, giving Boro a sizable SEVENTEEN englishman to choose from. However, what they have in numbers, they lack in experience, with few having more than a handful of first team appearences. Justin Hoyte, Chris Riggott and David Wheater would be the main men at the back with Stewart Downing and Gary O'Neil providing the star power in the middle. Things look quite bleak up top though, the likes of Tom Craddock unlikely to trouble the scoresheet. 4/10.

Newcastle - The perpetual turmoil and constant carping of whinging "King" Kevin belie the fact that the Geordies have one of the divisions largest squads, registering EIGHTEEN englishman as being part of the first team squad ; this is quite misleading though as only eight of those have got anywhere near the starting 11. Steve "Don't mention Xavi Alonso" Harper and Oscar nominee (for his handball gunshot exploits a couple of seasons back) Steven Taylor would probably maintain the Keeganesque philosophy of shipping goals. The midfield looks very robust, if dirtier than a Youe brother on Ecstasy, with Alan Smith, Danny Guthrie, Nicky Butt and the delightful Joey Barton probably collecting enough cards to fill a Clintons. Michael Owen will always score goals, unless Shola Ameobi is getting in his way as he did last weekend against Arsenal. 5/10.

Portsmouth - Old wheeler dealer Harry Redknapp has always liked a bargain and used to be known for his crappy cut price foreign purchases like Marco Boogers, Paulo Futre and Florin Raducioiu. Nowadays he mixes and matches and has a pool of ELEVEN englishman to pick from. David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson would be the big names at the back. Midfield would be the weak link, Sean Davis in the centre is ok, but Jerome Thomas and Glen Little aren't premiership class. The limited numbers would enforce playing 3 up front, all internationals, with Jermaine Defoe and David Nugent hoping that the incredibly inane Peter Crouch, who is more goal-post than goal machine, didn't get in their way. 4/10

Stoke - Similar to fellow new boys Hull, the Potters have EIGHTEEN englishman registered in their first team squad, but precious few who are premiership calibre. They can make a complete english team, but a mediocre one, with back to front, Steve Simonsen, Danny Higginbotham, Andy Griffin, Liam Lawrence, Michael Tonge and Dave Kitson being the key men. 3/10.

Sunderland - Like their north-east counterparts Newcastle and Middlesbrough, the Black Cats have a vast squad, including NINETEEN englishman, but precious few who are actually any good. Despite having five keepers, none are English (Craig Gordon - Scotland, Darren Ward - Wales, Trevor Carson - Northern Ireland, Nick Colgan - Republic of Ireland, Martin Fulop - Hungary) so there is your first problem. Nyron Nosworthy and Anton Ferdinand would be a strong central defensive partnership. Dean Whitehead, Grant Leadbitter and Kieran Richardson would add hard work and guile to the midfield. Unbelievably, they have 12 fowards on the books and perhaps even more unbelievable is that only 3 are english and therefore a pretty harmless Michael Chopra/Martin Waghorn partnership is the best they can muster. 3/10.

Tottenham - Another capital city club with few homegrown players are Spurs with only EIGHT englishman in what is considered the first team squad. However, a few others are in the websites "other squad members" section which features internationals like Paul Stalteri and Ricardo Rocha. Still, only eight are considered good enough to be selected as part of the first team squad. Inexperienced Ben Alnwick would be the shot stopper with Michael Dawson, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate fighting it out for central defensive places. The same can't be said for the full back slots. In the middle of the park you would find Tom Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas with one of David Bentley or Aaron Lennon having to play out of position on the opposite flank. Darren Bent would get quite lonely up front, but he's had to get used to that recently. 4/10.

West Brom - The Baggies are in the unenviable position of having only TEN englishman in their first team squad, including 2 keepers. The team reeks of average with Scott Carson in goal, Neil Clement and Paul Robinson on either side of defence, Jonathan Greening and James Morrison in midfield and Ishmael Miller and Luke Moore the fowards.....if they're your main men, you should be worried. 2/10.

West Ham - Supposedly the spiralling wage bill and enforced cuts on the Prems biggest squad led to the demise of Alan Curbishley yesterday. Of course, the benefit of a massive squad is strength in depth and unlike their London cohorts, the Hammers have a wealth of english talent, TWENTY in total. That being said, they're a little weak in a couple of positions so some square pegs have to be put in round holes, but the eastenders can put out a fairly good english team none the less. In goal, Robert Green, defence right to left Kieron Dyer, Callum Davenport, Matthew Upson, Joe Widowson, midfield right to left, Lee Bowyer, Hayden Mullins, Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington, in attack, Dean Ashton, with Freddie Sears getting the nod over Carlton Cole. 7/10.

Wigan - Almost identical to West Brom, NINE englishman with two keepers, so clearly their line up is never going to be particuarly impressive. Brittle bones Chris Kirkland would be desperately trying to attone for the numerous mistakes made by the hapless Titus Bramble. Lee Cattermole and Michael Brown give you industry and graft in midfield whilst Emile Heskey might bundle in a couple of goals, but its certainly a team with limited ability and few quality players. 2/10.

So, there you have it, if Sepp Blatter had his way, the landscape would instantly change, with the likes of Aston Villa and West Ham challenging Man Utd for the top spot whilst giants of the game such as Liverpool and Arsenal would be floundering at the bottom. Looking at all those squads, I really do believe that Aston Villa would indeed have the best english team, Man Utd may have more individual quality, but Villa would have a better balance. Martin O'Neills men would have natural width, energy and pace, not to mention a wealth of premiership experience across the team. Hmmm, perhaps Blatter isn't such a fool after all, perhaps he is onto something ! Unfortunately, even if my hypothetical scenario were to somehow come about, Man City would just buy half the Villa team as well as most of the England squad, so we probably wouldn't win anything anyway. Such is life.

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