In the 90’s, the Premier League was glittered with prolific, English frontmen. In recent times however, that could not be further from the truth.
In the mid to late 90’s, the Premier League was glittered with prolific, English frontmen. In recent times however, that could not be further from the truth.
Where’s the evidence?
Well, between 1995 and 2000, 5 different Englishmen finished as the Premier League’s top or joint-top scorer (Shearer, Dublin, Owen, Sutton and Phillips) and a further 4 Englishmen finished at least 1 season in the division’s top 3 scorers across that period (Fowler, Ferdinand, Wright and Cole).
Comparing that with recent years; between 2007 and 2012, there have been no English Premier League Golden Boot winners, with only 3 appearing in the division’s top 3 scorers (Rooney, Bent and Gerrard).
Not only are thereless English goal scorers around now, but England’s best strikers are also scoring fewer goals than previous generations. Between 1995 and 2000, Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler and Dion Dublin were the top English scorers in the Premier League, with a combined total of 239. However, between 2007 and 2012, the top English scorers Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe have only amassed a total of 203 Premier League goals between them, a 15% decrease on the previous decade.
So what’s gone wrong?
That is a question which could be debated forever; however it is clear that the status of our English Premier League as a world brand comes with many issues that are a detriment to home-grown talent. The main one being the additional financial pressures of staying in the division, which have subsequently caused changes in many clubs methods of achieving the success and/or retaining their top flight status.
Nowadays, clubs opt to scout abroad and pursue experienced foreign players in order to achieve instant results as opposed to bringing in young, home-grown talent from their academy or the lower leagues.
An exception to that rule was the emergence of Andy Carroll at Newcastle United, however it could have been a very different story had the club not been relegated in 2009, resulting in the exit of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka. In 2007, Newcastle United were in negotiations with Preston North End over a deal for the forward, however Preston could not afford the asking price of £500,000. Just 3 years later, he arrives at Liverpool as the most expensive English player ever.
This begs the question, how many have actually slipped through the net? The success of Grant Holt and Danny Graham this season in the Premier League is proof that there are English players out there in the lower leagues who can score goals at the highest level. Are the likes of Rickie Lambert and Gary Hooper genuinely “not good enough”, or did they just not get the chance that their talent deserved?
It seems that the ever increasing pressure on Premier League managers means that giving the opportunity to these home-grown players seems to be a strategy which is simply too high-risk.
Euro 2012 and Beyond
England’s national team is currently going through a transitional period between generations throughout the squad, but no more so than the forward areas. Whether the likes of Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Fraizer Campbell will come good still remains to be seen, however one thing that is certain is that the crop of England forward’s that will go to the Euro’s will be far weaker in terms of goal pedigree and experience than that of similar ranked nations.
England’s future remains uncertain, however looking at the rapid decline in top English talent in recent years, the chances of that future including success in a major tournament looks ever increasingly doubtful.