Alan Smith talks Wenger-like sense amid a lot of nonsense on quotas
Why the debate all of a sudden on quotas on football? Why has Alex Ferguson, Steve Coppell and Steven Gerrard all trotted behind Sepp Blatter and voiced support for quotas on the number of overseas footballers in the Premier League? Why when the Premier League is arguably developing into the most popular league in world football where fans worldwide are relishing the highly technical play of the likes of Ronaldo, Fabregas, Torres, Berbatov, Elano, Hleb, Arteta is there a call for protecting English players from ‘foreigners’. And why is it Arsene Wenger who seems to be singularly the sole voice in the profession arguing eloquently that football should be a meritocracy based on selecting players based on their ability not their passport?
The fact that Ferguson and Coppell made their arguments directly after playing Arsenal seems to me on the face of it deliberate – as if to unfairly demonise what Wenger is doing in producing stylish winning football that not just Arsenal fans but many neutrals enjoy to watch because it is football at its purest. I believe Coppell when he says that he is not having a go at Wenger and that he admires the Arsenal manager’s work. I have less faith in Ferguson who can’t seem to resist the opportunity to have a pop – whether expressly or thinly veiled - at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger... particularly when they are a threat.
Former Arsenal striker, Alan Smith, now a respected commentator on the game has written a piece on the Telegraph online website today saying that Ferguson, Coppell, Gerrard and Co has got it wrong and I’d like our readers to read his piece. He sums up really well the reasons why the quota call is retrograde, mistaken and should be resisted.
For me, better coaching at youth levels and better coaching at the national level is what is needed to increase the quality of English players and the England national team. An onus also needs to placed on the mentality of English players themselves not to think they have ‘made it’ when they break through into club football with amazing wages but rather to have the focus to continue to improve their game to the highest standards possible commensurate to their ability. These factors, rather than pointing the finger of blame on ‘foreigners' for threatening the future of English-born players, is where the focus should be.