Because of Foreigners...

If your child was an aspiring child rock star, which forms of music would you offer the ears of his growing prodigious talent? On one side you can choose from a collection of stadium filling, multi-platinum selling artists regarded as some of the finest their industry has produced; The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and the like. Conversely, you could ignore all these talents, and provide him with a host of the mediocre and the ridiculous. The Wurzels, Shakin Stevens, Jive Bunny; a veritable slew of ear splitting punishment, containing less depth than a GoCompare advert. The rational answer to any sane mind? Quality always wins…

"Carlton! Carlton!"
Come summer 2014, It will be fourty-eight years since The English national football team last won a major tournament, or even reached a final. According to popular opinion, a vital reason for these years of hurt – at least in the second half, is purely down to the ever-growing collection of foreign imports ‘invading’ the highest levels of our national game. The theory behind this logic, is that as the percentage of potential places in professional squads lowers for developing English teenagers, the numbers coming through suffers; creating a dearth in the national team gene pool, and making them quite shit. 

While the reality of less positions is without doubt true, the perception of its effect upon the beautiful game upon its homeland is, in my view, complete bullshit. So allow me to break down the three key factors used in this argument, and explain why I feel foreigner payers in England are – much like the influence of managers such as Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho, a godsend to one of the most passionate, hardcore football loving nations on earth.

One: Because of foreigners, England fail to qualify or perform at major tournaments.
Apparently, England were an impenetrable world force before non-nationals started to arrive by the boat load in the mid-1990’s; slowly changing the average foreigner-per-squad ratio from two, to around twenty. This Fort-Knox England, who between 1967 and 1995 failed to qualify for three world-cups out of a possible seven; (compared to the five straight since), and reach one semi-final and two quarter finals, (again, in comparison to the ensuing semi-final and four quarter-finals since), were at best – barring the odd Paul Gascoigne or Kevin Keegan, deceptively average. 

Before foreigners arrived, every tournament they barely struggled to qualify for, was rewarded with matches against opposition long conditioned to the piss-poor, long-ball, hoof it and see English style, based around a desire which 99% of the time, loses to skill. The past 20 years - also England’s most consistent period, has been nothing like this. Now when a Steven Gerrard or Joe Hart come up against Germany, Argentina, and the like – through playing with and against foreign internationals on a regular basis, already know both how to adapt and what to expect; taking away factors of fear of the unknown, as well as being able to pass the ball below fourty feet in the air. By-enlarge, the national team have only improved around foreigners.

"One of the best."
Two: Because of foreigners, there are less English places in the Premier League.
While true there are less places for English youngsters in top-quality sides these days, it also means the level needed to reach a professional standard is much higher; leaving minimal margin for error in all forms of their game. 

The result of this means that while we lose twenty Geoff Thomases to the lower-league Barnet and Gillingham’s of the world, in return we gain one very solid and conditioned in ambition, Chris Waddle. Not only this, but a Chris Waddle who instead of playing and developing around sub-standard players whose downtime involves punts and pints, has now risen to the level of top-drawer compatriots like Mesut Ozil and Christiano Ronaldo. Like any walk of life, when the bar is raised, only those who can reach it will remain there; leaving England players much stronger, smarter, and adaptable.

Three: Because of foreigners, the general influence upon our game is negative.
Pasta based diets, constant ball retention, and skilful flair of the highest order, are just a small measure of positive traits the Premier League has benefited from over the past two decades, due to foreigners. Anyone who sees this as regressive, need watch the first real crop of young English footballers breaking through; Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshire, and Ross Barkley as examples, who spent entire youths awash in the sights of Zola, Henry, Drogba, and some of the best of an entire generation. 

While these players retain the natural fight and heart of an English footballer, they also have the continental flair practised to perfection as easily influenced children. When you mix Italian style, Spanish flair, and an English spirit only equalled by the Brazilians and Japanese, we now find ourselves holding some very formidable English footballers on our hands; and how in any way, is that negative...

Ultimately, the English are one of the smartest nations on earth at utilizing imports, and don’t yet fully realise how much they have made the globalisation of football work in their favour. If all the naysayers were accurate, the English national team would now be on the level of – with all due respect to our tartan friends, Scotland; and that hasn’t and isn’t going to happen. England are a much better international team in 2014, then they were in 1974 and 1994 – without any Polish goalkeepers to make them look like clowns, or Carlton Palmers clogging up a mid-field who even perennial whipping-boys San Marino, managed to penetrate. 

England has given their game to foreigners, and foreigners have given theirs in return. It may seem bad on the surface, but would anyone really want to take the national game back to the 1970’s? The irony is, should England manage to exceed all expectation and reach the semi-final, final, or - dare I say, even win the 2014 World Cup itself? Much of that success will be credited to the influence of foreign imports in the Premier League. Even if not in 2014, they have more chance now, than they ever have. And who really prefers Shakin Stevens to The White Album anyway…

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