Tag Archives: Newcastle

The International Makeup of the Premier and Non League

The Premier League has been famed for the international stars it attracts as a league for a long time. Since the dawn of the Premier League era, players have flocked from all over the world to come in play what the English media certainly believe to be ‘the best league in the world.’

The introduction of so many foreign players into the domestic English game (223 with an average of 11 per club) has often been blamed for poor performances by the Three Lions at major tournaments.

But where do these so called international stars come from? And how come other countries are able to flourish with almost as many foreign players in their leagues and with many of their players playing overseas anyway, frequently, in the Premier League?

We took a look at the makeup of the Premier League’s different nationalities by seeing which countries are most frequently attracted to often a much colder and wetter climate in the search of football stardom.

Most Common Nationalities in EPL
Most of the chart above probably wouldn’t surprise most readers. The combined effect of both Arsene Wenger and Alan Pardew’s (at Newcastle) liking for French and francophone players has significantly boosted the contingent of players from across the channel playing in the EPL; the same can be said for the reasonably high number of Ivorian and Senegalese players. But the number of Dutch, Spanish and Argentine players may come as surprise, especially when everyone is always saying how many Belgians there seem to be in England’s top tier. The breakdown of foreign player by club makes more interesting reading:
Foreign Players by Club

  It would seem that Chelsea’s success in winning the league at a canter this year has come at the expense of blooding young English talent, or English players of any age for that matter with Gary Cahill and John Terry the only regulars and senior domestic names of note in the whole squad. The same approach hasn’t worked quite the same wonders for John Carver’s Newcastle who are flirting dangerously with relegation. Likewise already relegated Burnley look to have paid for backing homegrown players. West Ham and Spurs also are no longer the bastions of young Englishmen that they have been in years gone by with Sam Allardyce and Mauricio Pochettino seemingly favouring the foreign approach to the game. Perhaps the best way to paint the picture of an arguable surplus of foreign players in the top flight, is to look at the situation at the other end of the scale, in the Conference Premier.

Conference Nationalities

Again France leads the way, with Australia in a close second – but even from the evidence of internationals simply playing in the basement before the promised land of League 2 and the Football League, shows that there are significantly less foreign players plying their trade at the lower level.

Conference Foreign Players
Again, by casting one’s eye over the breakdown of foreign players by club, it is again clear that local and domestic players are the favoured choice of lower league managers. Even if Lincoln look like the Chelsea of the Conference way out in front on the chart, they still only have four players from outside of the UK.

 

Compared to other domestic leagues in Europe, the level of domestic players playing in the Premier League and even in the Championship is much lower, and the results of the national teams at the Euros and World Cups really bears out the point that while plucking talent from across the globe ensures an exciting and vibrant league each season, it can only damage the growth of homegrown talent.

Newcastle United: No retrospective punishment for McManaman

In a genuinely ludicrous decision, the FA have decided not to apply any sort of retroactive punishment on Callum McManaman for his tackle on Haidara at the weekend.

Television replays showed the horror nature of the lunge, with Haidara being struck on the knee by the studs of the Wigan youngster.

Replays also showed that referee Mark Halsey’s view was impeded by distance and another player, and therefore the assumption was that the FA would punish the player after the event. It was assumed Halsey hadn’t seen the tackle clearly. It has since been revealed the FA couldn’t punish McManaman as one of the match officials had seen the tackle, but not the full extent of it.

Whilst Wigan chairman Dave Whelan described the tackle as “clean as a whistle”, the response elsewhere has been completely different, and many have seen Whelan’s comments as farcical.

With the FA not punishing McManaman retroactively, questions have to be asked of Halsey, who has made a string of poor decisions since his return from illness last season. His placement for the lunge was questionable, his view impeded by another player. His officiating team also do not come out of the affair scot free.

Newcastle United: The importance of spending when momentum is behind you

The past summer for Newcastle is symbolic of the issue with resting on one’s laurels when it comes to the transfer market. Newcastle achieved great things last season, constantly challenging for the Champions League places, but in doing so revealed what their strengths and weaknesses were. The reality was always that without recruitment to improve on the first-team set-up, they would never replicate last season. It was inevitable that they would not suffer another relatively injury free campaign like before, especially not with the added impact of Europa League fixtures on a thin squad.

It is not usual, however, to be granted the opportunity to examine a weakened and strengthened squad in the same season, with little by way of variables aside from that. The coaching staff remains the same, the system remains relatively similar and the situation around the club is as it was before. The only difference now is the huge amount of recruitment in the January window, and the improvements they have added to the team itself.

The results have been dramatic. Where before Newcastle could not buy a win, they have since gone on to win several on the bounce, including imperative relegation scraps such as Aston Villa away. They have gone on to prove what I had suspected all along, that it was not the fault of the manager but merely the players at his disposal. The rest of the league improved this summer but Newcastle stagnated. The rest of the league stagnated in January but Newcastle improver their playing staff. Pardew deserves credit for how he has set up recruits one suspects he may have preferred to have had 6 months ago.

Obviously this season will likely end in a damp squib, with a mid-table finish the likely and hoped for result. However, given the recruitment policy in January, the club could have heeded the lesson and realised that constant development of who is available is required. Continuity is good, but where severe cracks exist, they cannot merely be papered over. If you feel you can improve, and it is within budget, you should. That is the nature of modern football, and if Mike Ashley understands this and backs the recruitment side of his club enough, he has an effective manager able to carry Newcastle to the heights the city deserves.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).