Like many fans, I want to see an 18-year-old Englishman from his local football academy represent Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, both Manchester clubs on a consistent level. But this will not happen again for a long time.
Like players, coaches have an ego – the itch to succeed. They want to come into a club and show the fans and board that they can do things the previous manager couldn’t.
To bring in juniors for a run of fixtures means risking results, so managers open the chequebook and bring in the finished product, which alleviates pressure on them.
Managers prefer to spend big because they feel their chances of winning are more secure than if they use homegrown, academy players.
Ronald Koeman is feeling it now with Everton – as good as Dominic Calvin-Lewin and Tom Davies are going to be, he would have preferred to keep Romelu Lukaku and purchase Luka Modric any day.
Every time I have this discussion with someone, their response is: why can Swansea do it? Why can Southampton can do it?
The answer is that there is less pressure to succeed at those clubs. Playing for Swansea and not scoring for two or three games is nothing compared to playing at Chelsea and not scoring for two or three games. Swansea not winning for three or four games, fielding a host of young, local prospects, will not produce the rage it would in Manchester or London.
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Lack of time
The days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are well and truly over.
When a manager signs for a big club, the board want instant success. They will no longer wait three, four or five years for a manager to develop talent and grow a team, established from youth, who can challenge for the title.
What major club’s board has the patience to say to the manager, “Use the next couple seasons to build a team from the academy. If we miss out on European football, so be it, it’s for the better in the long run”?
If Antonio Conte or Pep Guardiola lose three games in a row, their season and careers are done. They simply don’t have time. Big clubs want results, so won’t risk benching world-class players for youth.
Our beloved game is driven by money, with so many clubs funded by billionaires ready to use their money to invest in the brand, purchase the best talent, and challenge for major honours.
While the fans, players and clubs celebrate these successes, they often forget homegrown talent.
Yet the lack of homegrown talent manages to pop up when a club is in some sort of crisis with results – once they’re winning again, and the results and performances are positive, the status quo is restored.
With money comes easy decisions: “Let’s buy this player now – he will help us achieve our targets and challenge the big guns, while our youngsters go on loan and gain experience. We will bring them back if they hit the ground running elsewhere, if not, they’ll just go on loan again.”
Teams just want to win, and a players just want to get paid, and there goes loyalty. You do have your odd player who won’t leave to join a big club, because they know they will rot on the bench and lose it all, but most can’t turn down a seven-figure salary, exposure of themselves as a player, fancy cars and expensive lifestyles.
With so much money to throw around, priorities are misaligned.
These four issues which have led to a lack of homegrown talent in England, especially around the top five or six clubs, are almost certainly why England struggle on the international level.