Football Expert & Columnist
Niall Quinn on the cultural problems facing the England national team
Last Updated: 05/09/16 10:02am
Niall Quinn analyses the problems behind the lack of English talent coming through the ranks and reminisces about doing Georgi Kinkladze's running for him.
It has been a short summer. It seems like just yesterday that four teams from these islands (sorry Scotland) were heading off to France for the Euros. Everybody had high hopes.
And it seems like just the day before yesterday when Brexit hit and the rest of Europe woke up to the news that the UK had taken its ball and gone home.
And now the Premier League is in full swing, Deadline Day has passed and the World Cup qualifiers have started.
It's business as usual and nothing much has changed apart from the fact that Sam Allardyce now has the England job.
I was relieved for Sam when Adam Lallana poked the winner through the legs of the unfortunate Slovakian keeper Matus Kozacik yesterday with the last kick of the game.
There were only ten Slovakians left on the field and in the press box the hatchets were already being sharpened.
Sam deserves better. Whatever was wrong with English football during the Euros is still going to be wrong this week, next week and in a few years time.
Sam's job is to do what he is good at, getting results with the resources he has. Whether those results look pretty or feel ugly doesn't matter. Improving the resources that Sam has is somebody else's job.
In an ideal world, Allardyce's entire squad would be made up mostly from the top four Premier League clubs.
He'd have a few dozen players just underneath that level knocking loudly on the door, one or two plying their trade at top Spanish or German clubs too.
Why that isn't the case is a bigger problem than one manager can deal with.
Sam's first game as manager came in the week of Deadline Day. Nearly all the big stories coming out of the annual madness concerned foreign players coming to the Premier League.
From Sam's point of view Joe Hart went to Torino and Jack Wilshere decided he'd enjoy Bournemouth a little bit more than he would enjoy Rome.
When the dust settled seventy foreign players had just come into the Premier League.
About half that number had left but most of the lads packing their bags were lads who didn't quite make it. Hardly any ripples were made by players from the UK or Ireland.
Times have changed at the top. Sadly beneath the surface our football culture hasn't moved on. We are too insular.
Back when the Premier League started in 1992/93 there were 36 foreign players in the league and about 11 of those were starters. Now the league is global. Players from 105 different nations have played Premier League football.
The situation facing the England side (and the rest of us on these islands) isn't going to change from the top downwards.
Top clubs and the people who run them don't feel responsible for the English team. Their job is to get the best talent available and to get it now.
Every now and then (bad result to Iceland etc) fans moan about the lack of English players in the league but it's like tourism to places of natural beauty. We all feel that we have the right to be there but that maybe they should ban all other tourists in case the place gets spoiled.
Most fans think there are too many foreign players here but at 10 o'clock in the evening on Deadline Day when your team needs a striker you don't care if he comes from Tyneside or Timbuktu. Just sign him.
As an outsider looking in it seems to me that the problem is so ingrained in football culture that it will take years to solve.
As a kid at Arsenal I came through to the first team with about seven other lads I had played with in the youth side. We all went on to have decent careers. Fergie did something similar at United with the Class of '92. It will be a long time before anything like that happens again. It won't happen just by wishing for it to happen.
Arsenal are an interesting example.
My friend, Google, tells me that in 1930 Arsenal bought a Dutch player called Gerry Keizer. The FA said tut tut and brought in a crude anti-foreigner policy. That policy lasted until 1978.
In 1989 Arsenal became the last team to win the league title with no foreign players in their squad. In 2005 Arsenal became the first club to put out a team made up entirely of foreign players.
That's history through just one top club. Top clubs will always want the top talent. We have known that since 1930 at least but we still haven't adapted properly.
When foreign players began coming into the league they were a novelty and there were no foreign managers or foreign owners.
I was at Manchester City by the time I played with a foreign player.
After experimenting with a couple of Dutch and German players the club signed Georgi Kinkladze.
City didn't know what to do with Georgi.
He had immense talent and fans loved him. But he was homesick and his mother and sister had to move to Manchester.
He didn't do tracking back so when he'd make a run out wide I would be told to go and pick up the opposing full back.
I vividly remember one day against Leeds and every time Georgi lost the ball my job was to chase after their galloping full back Gary Kelly. City got relegated twice in three years. Joe Royle who was in charge for the second relegation said: "To the supporters he was the only positive in all that time. To me he was a big negative."
English football never really bridged that cultural gap.
Now the top clubs are foreign-owned and have foreign managers who bring in their own foreign coaching staff and pack their academies with young foreign players. Who can blame them?
The English game is a long way behind the big European powers in terms of the numbers of A and B qualified coaches we produce.
So not enough kids at pre-academy level are getting the best coaching and not enough young coaches have a pathway to the top of the game.
The English game is a long way behind the big European powers in terms of the numbers of A and B qualified coaches.
The reality is harsh. If a club invests money in bringing a young player and his family from abroad they have an interest in that kid succeeding. When it comes to cutting the numbers it's easier to get rid of a local kid unless he is truly exceptional.
Sadly our homegrown players aren't seen as a trustworthy commodity in foreign leagues.
Joe Hart travelled against heavy traffic last week. While English clubs scout the world for players you don't find scouts from Juventus, Bayern Munich or Barcelona turning up at muddy pitches watching kids in the UK or Ireland.
There aren't a dozen or so players from these islands getting Champions League experience with foreign clubs.
So we have the greatest, most exciting and diverse league in the world but there is a price. The solution lies in the broader culture.
There is no quick fix.
No point in saying we hope to have 45% domestic players by the year 2020 or whenever or hoping that Brexit might be a help in some way.
The game needs to open up, accept that there is a ten year job to be done below the surface and start looking to Europe instead of hoping to shut it out. The Premier League is a juggernaut. It is not going to be stopped by a lollipop lady.
In the meanwhile blaming Sam Allardyce for anything that goes wrong, if it does go wrong, is exactly the sort of short term, knee-jerk thinking that got the game to this point.
Sam got the job done yesterday. Other people have an even bigger job to do.