After our piece last week outlining five reasons why England will not win Euro 2016, we decided to delve a little deeper into one particular stat – how many English players are actually playing in the English Premier League. We know that all 23 players in the England squad are home-based, but how wide is the range of players for Roy Hodgson in terms of selection.
To take it a step further, we decided to look at how many minutes English players had played at each club this last season and what percentage of team minutes that represents.
It's unsurprising to see Tottenham at the top end of the list, given the players they have in the England squad, but the numbers at the bottom of the pile are staggering. Three of the biggest sides in the country in Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea have had the lowest representation of English players of all teams.
Now, that may be somewhat expected as the biggest teams with the most money can afford to buy the best players in the world. So to take it a step further, we decided to look at the Spanish Primera and German Bundesliga to compare and see how the biggest teams in those leagues fared.
As expected, Real Madrid and Barcelona both feature near the bottom but the numbers are significantly higher than the bottom teams in the Premier League. To give an example, Spanish players at Barcelona played more minutes than English players at Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea combined.
There's a similar story in Germany if we look at Bayern Munich. The one thing to note here is that the minutes can be misleading as there are four games fewer per team in the Bundesliga, with only 18 teams in the division. So let’s look at the percentages and Gladbach are bottom with 26.4%. They would rank the equivalent of mid-table in the Premier League for minutes by native players.
Is it any wonder the English national team continue to struggle when English players get so little playing time? Simply increasing the required quota of English players in teams does not solve the problem if they are not getting the playing time. And as the cycle goes, they will not get the playing time if they are simply not good enough.
Roy’s got a tough job on his hands!