Sunday 4 December 2016

Wenger unsure of FA reform impact

Published 02/04/2015 | 11:56

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, pictured, has questioned Greg Dyke's plans
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, pictured, has questioned Greg Dyke's plans

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has questioned the reason behind England's failings on the international stage in light of Football Association chairman Greg Dyke's plans to push through radical changes.

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Dyke wants to increase the minimum number of home-grown players in club squads from eight to 12, but he is facing opposition from the Premier League.

The proposals also include changing the rules so that 'home-grown' means having trained in England for three years before the age of 18 rather than before 21.

Only 36.8 per cent (81 out of 220) of Premier League starters in the last round of matches were eligible for England selection.

Wenger said he is keen to contribute to the quality of the England team but does not believe the number of English players in a side is the key factor in engineering that improvement.

"I believe we are in a top-level competition and you earn your right through the quality of your performance rather than your place of birth," Wenger said when asked if he agreed with Dyke's plans.

"Secondly, I'm happy to, and would like to contribute to the quality of the English national team, but you have two questions you can raise before that. What is the heart of the problem?

"First of all between 1966 and 96 there were no foreign players in England and it didn't improve too much the performances of the national team.

"Secondly, if between the ages of 16 and 21 the youth teams in England win every single competition in Europe then you could say yes, there is something that we have to do because they are not getting their chance at the top level. That is not the case, on the contrary.

"I think between 16 and 21 the English youth teams, until now, have not performed. So that's the heart of the problem. Let's get better at that level, then if there is a problem integrating these players in the top teams, we have to do something about it."

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini had a fairly lukewarm response to Dyke's proposals, instead preferring to have the best players, regardless of their nationality.

"I think it is important for big teams to bring in the best players, that is the most important thing," the Chilean said.

"If they are good players, of course I agree (with Dyke's plan). We need good players. All the big players, but especially the Premier league needs the best players to play."

Everton manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, backed Dyke's plans.

"I welcome that intention of making it better because at the moment the development of younger players is quite difficult," Martinez said.

"At the moment the development of younger players is quite difficult in the British game compared to other leagues around Europe and we need to make an effort to help it.

"One of the biggest aims we have as a club is to develop our youngsters and give them opportunities and I don't think it will affect us at all.

"It will benefit because we have the same line of thinking in terms of giving youngsters a path into the first team."

Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood, who introduced a number of youngsters into the Tottenham first team last season, agreed.

He said: "I think there were five players who had come through Tottenham's academy and four on the pitch the other night (for England). It was something we always pushed but everyone has to be on the same page."

When asked if he thought other players as talented as Harry Kane were being pushed aside because of foreign players, Sherwood added: " One million per cent."

QPR boss Chris Ramsey hopes the new rules will help boost English talent, but does not think that will necessarily translate into success for the national side.

"It doesn't guarantee the national team will be any better than it is. It does however make the academy systems worth their while in giving players pathways to play in their country of origin," Ramsey said.

"I do believe we import players from abroad that we could easily produce here. I'm not saying we shouldn't have foreign players because foreign players have been fantastic for the English game.

"The top-end players have pulled the game up no end, the top-end managers have pulled the game up no end, but it's the mediocrity that really frustrates the English coach and the English player."

Hull boss Steve Bruce said he backed Dyke's plan in principle and questioned why the top Premier League clubs had failed to produce many outstanding English players since the Manchester United generation of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers.

Bruce said: "One thing that is staggering is that over the last 20 years we have invested millions in academies but are we producing enough players?

"It has been a problem since Manchester United produced all of those players - who have they produced since, who have Liverpool, Manchester City all of the teams at the top over the last 10 or 15 years.

"When you look back, where are they? It is a hell of a debate. For me personally, we miss children playing football at school."

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