Recently discussing England’s chances at Euro 2016 next summer it was suggested The Three Lions should select more players from the top clubs. This is a really interesting subject as there are arguments both for and against this point of view.
The last three major international trophies have been won by nations heavily represented by one club. Spain won two European Championship and the World Cup between 2008 and 2012 with the team largely composed of the great Barcelona side of Xavi, Iniesta, Alba, Fabregas and Busquets, supplemented with Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund provided 11 of Germany’s 23 man World Cup winning squad in 2014.
As this is England the focus is on the top clubs in England (as we all know English players rarely travel to play their club football but that’s a discussion for another day). So what constitutes a top club playing at the top level and challenging for major trophies. In the Premier League clubs fitting into those criteria would be Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. It could be argued Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham Hotspurs are top clubs but all three aren’t realistic title challengers or played in the Champions League on a regular basis for the past five years.
So what is the argument for Roy Hodgson selecting more players from the top clubs? These clubs have more experience in the top level competitions like the Champions League and therefore the players are able to challenge themselves against the best players in world football and also in the most competitive atmospheres. This undoubtedly improve players technically, tactically and mentally as a result selecting these players improves the standard of the national team.
Although English clubs haven’t been successful in Europe over the past few years someone has to win the Premier League each year, obviously. This is another advantage in selecting players based on their clubs. When players are used to winning, or at least challenging, trophies it becomes a habit and reflects on the national team with players going into each match with the belief to win.
Those are the arguments for, but really all the England players competing in the Champions League are already in the national squad. Worryingly only 12 Englishmen have figured in the competition so far this season. 15 other nations have had more players represented including Belarus and Israel. Compare the 12 Englishmen with the 59 Spaniards, 53 Brazilians or 42 Frenchman and the statistic is truly damming.
The other reason why England shouldn’t select more players from the top clubs is because the competition for places in the leading sides is fiercer. If England are already selecting the best players from those clubs the other options available at those side are likely to be bit part players. So despite having the quality to represent a top club they may lack match sharpness when required for The Three Lions.
So what is the conclusion? Well, England does already select all the players available from the top clubs. For example Manchester City has only featured four players eligible to represent England, Joe Hart, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Patrick Roberts. The former three are already regular members of the national team and the latter has only played four minutes in the league having joined from Championship side Fulham in the summer. At Arsenal, amongst the English contingent, only Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have started more than one game in the league. It’s no better at Stamford Bridge where only youngest Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be called up by England, with Gary Cahill already involved and John Terry now retired.