The Premier League is about to under go a revolution and has it already started
The symbolic moment of the French Revolution was the storming of the Bastille led by Amaria Cahila on the 14th July 1789. It represents the end of the Ancient Régime and the beginning of a new era of French history. The storming of the Bastille was bloody and resulted in many casualties. It completely changed the way France as a nation was ruled.
The Premier League has shown underlying signals that a big change is already under way. Clubs such as Liverpool, Aston Villa and Chelsea have all attempted to hire young, innovative managers in the last year such as Brendan Rodgers and Andre Villas Boas. The latter has already been a casualty of the ruthlessness of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Other signs also indicate that a change has been under way. Clubs such as Tottenham and Newcastle have recently been challenging for the top four places last season. Both sides have done this with exceptionally talented and young squads. Young players such as Gareth Bale, Luka Modrić, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa have made significant contributions to the success of Tottenham and Newcastle.
Meanwhile, the number of experienced players who have a major significant role at these clubs is limited to players such as Fabricio Colocinni or Rafael Van Der Vaart; which leads us to the rest of the Premier League. A significant number of players in the Premier League are reaching the end of their time and a great deal of them play significant roles in the success of their respective clubs, which also leads us to whether a major revolution of the Premier League is under way and it is all to do with age of players (and even managers).
Currently, there are 167 players over the age of thirty and another 25 players will reach that mark next season. Clubs such as Chelsea epitomise this fact with the famous 'Old Guard' triumph of Europe. One way or another, over the next 3 years, the Premier League is going to have a large turnover of players. What should leave Premier League fans worried is that at least 120 of these have appeared for their clubs regularly this season. Assuming that all the teams use all their 25 man squad, this means in the next few years five full squads of football clubs would have to completely change their squad. Does this indicate that the Premier League is on the verge of a storming of the Bastille-like moment? For clubs like Fulham; yes. They need to change 16 players alone in the next few years - this will cost a fair amount and a consequence is that manager Martin Jol may very well have to bed in a large number of players in the next couple of transfer windows. As the figures below suggest, Fulham are by far not the only team facing such a problem in the future.
It will be difficult to see how youth can help teams such as Fulham and Stoke. Even the great Man Utd team of the early 90s who were infamous for using youth to win their early Premier League titles only produced 6 young players: Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. It is difficult to see how teams such as Fulham can replicate anything near that.
Premier League clubs may not feel this way but Championship and the other leagues will. They are being trawled for their talent. Liverpool have gone on a large recruitment drive to try get the best upcoming English talent in the famous Academy, while clubs such as Arsenal have signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Manchester United have signed Nicky Powell from Crewe Alexander. Otherwise, clubs are again looking predominantly worldwide.
However, this is also an opportunity to develop locally born talent which many clubs cannot let pass. Premier League clubs will be able to build their teams up without the need to spend vast amounts of money. Clubs such as Southampton, Charlton and Crewe have the potential futures dramatically changed before the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) comes into effect.
The problem facing youngsters is the fact that quality seems to be the by word, which has limited the chance of youngsters and quality has been heavily linked with the experience of the player. Plenty of top clubs have lost fantastic talents. For example, Man Utd have lost Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba to Juventus because of the lack of opportunities. Man City lost Daniel Sturrridge to Chelsea. This is due to the fact that so few players have made it through the youth ranks to reach the first team in the last 10 years. As already stated, clubs have searched abroad for talent rather than their own academies.
The cost to replace these players will be very high. This is due to the sheer number of players that need replacing to not only keep clubs performing at the level they are at but also to keep numbers in the squad high enough so that teams can remain competitive despite the amount of injuries a club may face.
The EPPP will help clubs become cost-wise in developing young players, however, the results of this plan may not be seen for around seven years at least which is far too long to spend waiting to develop a quality squad that can allow teams to be more ambitious in their goals.
Another worrying financial consideration is that many clubs have little or no chance of getting a fee for most of these players. A classic example is the release of former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba for free. There is also the consideration of recycled money being redistributed among the league in terms of transfer fees. So transfer sagas like the Torres, Carroll and Suarez (that totalled £108m) will not be helpful for the PL due to no added money entering the league. How significant a factor this will be is hard to determine until we know how the new TV deal money involving BT will influence how clubs spend the extra source of income.
This is on the back of the new Financial Fair Play Rules imposed by UEFA which will restrict clubs with an ambition to play in European competitions to spend within their means. With important players leaving for little or nothing in terms of fee, this will not help teams meet the rules set by UEFA.
Economically, it would make sense that many of these youngsters are at least going to be given a chance. Obviously this will mean a challenge to the big four, something we have been seeing for a year or two already and younger teams promoted doing better than expected and poorer performances in Europe. This should not leave Premier League fans feeling doomed. In Germany a revolution is already under way and the standards have risen. The German national team is going strong playing in a beautiful manner full of youngsters such as Reus, Özil, and Müller.
The Premier League has shown with the EPPP that it is attempting to revolutionise the youth system in English football at club level (mainly to benefit Premier League Clubs). There are also the recent reforms to youth development proposed by the FA and the enormous television deal involving Sky and BT.
Things are even seemingly rosy in the near future because there are signs that England is not too far away from producing a good range of talent. The England U23 team are just behind Germany and Spain.
The Premier League is on the verge of a big change. It is just about when its most symbolic moment will occur. Will this change be remembered with a Napoleon rising up to fight for the dominance of the PL in Europe or will we see a wave of Syndney-Carton-like characters instead?
Club - No. of players 30+ (No. of players who will be 30 next season)
NEWCASTLE UTD - Harper, Coloccini, Lovenkrands, (Williamson, Gutierrez) = 3+2
NORWICH CITY - Drury, Holt, Hoolahan, Wilbraham, (Morison, Fox) = 4+2
ARSENAL - Almunia, Roscicky, Arteta, Squillaci, Benayoun = 5
MAN CITY - Taylor, Lescott, Barry, Hargreaves, K.Toure, (Y.Toure) = 5+1
WOLVES - De Vries, Craddock, Henry, Hunt, Doyle, (Johnson, Millijas) = 5+2
ASTON VILLA - Given, Warnock, Dune, Heskey, S. Petrov, Cuellar = 6
SUNDERLAND - Gordon, Bridge, Brown, O'Shea, Bramble, Kyriakos, (Vaughan, Turner) = 6+2
BLACKBURN - Robinson, Salgado, Givet, Dunn, Grella, Pedersen, Orr, Yakubu = 8
SWANSEA CITY - Tate, Boddie, Britton, Monk, Moreira, Rangel, Tremmel, Gower, (Vorm) = 8+1
WIGAN ATH - Kirkland, Gohouri, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Crusat, Pollitt, Boyce, Al Habsi, (Maloney, Figueroa) = 8+2
LIVERPOOL - Reina, Doni, Jones, Gerrard, Carragher, Aurelio, Kuyt, Maxi, Bellamy = 9
MAN UNITED - Evra, Ferdinand, Owen, Giggs, Park, Scholas, Vidic, Carrick, Berbatov = 9
SPURS - Gomes, Cudicini, Friedal, Parker, Gallas, Saha, DeFoe, King, Nelsen, (Van Der Vaart) = 9+1
WEST BROM - Olsson, Ridgewell, Andrews, Reid, Shorey, Gera, McAuley, Odemwinge, Fortune, Scharner, (Tchoyi, Fulop, Thomas, Tamas) = 9+4
BOLTON - Steinsson, Tuncay, M.Petrov, Gardner, Knight, K.Davies, Klasnic, Blake, Ricketts, Jaaskelainen = 10
CHELSEA - Cech, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Drogba, Malouda, Boswinga, Ferreira, Terry, Hilario, (Meireles) = 10+1
EVERTON - Howard, Mucha, Hibbett, Jagielka, Hahnemann, Distin, Neville, Cahill, Osman, Pienaar, (Heitinga, McFadden) = 10+2
STOKE CITY - Nash, Woodgate, Sorenson, Etherington, Crouch, Delap, Upson, Daio, Fuller, Sidibe, Whitehead, (Pennant, Walters) = 11+2
FULHAM - Schwarzer, JA.Riise, Sidwell, Hangeland, Baird, Johnson, Murphy, Duff, Hughes, Diarra, Etuhu, Davies, Gkygera, BH.Riise, (Pogrebnyar, Dempsey) = 15+2
Q.P.R. - Kenny, Hill, Derry, Hall, Gabbidon, Campbell, Buzsaky, Barton, Young, Hulse, Smith, Helgusson, Cisse, Cerny, SW.Phillips, Zamora, (Murphy) = 16+1
READING - Griffin, Gorkss, Harte, Gunnarson, McAnuff, Mullins, Roberts, (Howard, Hunt) = 8+2
SOUTHAMPTON - Davies, Richardson, Butterfield, Jaidi, Do Prado, Lambert, Connolly, (Harding, Hooiveld, Hammond, Fonte) = 7+4
WEST HAM - Green, McCartney, Nolan, Carew, M.taylor, A. Faye, G. Demmel, P. Diop, (O'Neill) = 8+1
Notice how many are goalkeepers, those that have been released and those transfered indicate the revolution has already began.