WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2013 — Greg Dyke, the chairman of England’s Football Association, lamented in a speech this week the lack of English players starting in the Premier League and its negative effect on England’s national team, currently in a struggle to reach the 2014 World Cup.
Dyke should have a quiet chat with Alan Pardew. And come to think about it, shouldn’t the Newcastle manager, once the man who waved the flag for English players in the English Premier League, apologize to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger?
Back in March of 2006, Pardew, then coaching at West Ham, accused Arsenal of being “non-British.”
After a 4-1 loss to Bolton with eight English players on his team, Pardew blew off steam against Wenger’s Arsenal which hadn’t started an English player in over a month, partly due to injuries to Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell.
The shoe is now on the other foot. Pardew is the man now coaching an almost French team. In Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Fulham last weekend, Pardew gave playing time to eight French players - starting five. All four dressed English players were left twiddling their thumbs on the bench.
Back in London, Frenchman Wenger started four England players in the Gunners’ 1-0 win over Tottenham. He gave playing time to just four Frenchmen, with two coming off the bench.
Nine years ago, Pardew was urging teams to buy British players and suggested every club should field at least two or three “home players” on the first team. Wenger almost accused Pardew of racism: “I would never like to say to a player, ‘Sorry, you are not playing because you don’t have the right passport.’ “
In the recent transfer window, Pardew signed two Frenchman and gave the boot to whole slew of minor English players. Newcastle has more French players (10) on its roster than English players (9). And none of those English players has a cap with the senior England team. Arsenal on the other hand has five English players on its roster - all of them capped - and four of them current England team players. Kudos to Wenger for incubating Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson.
This has nothing to do with French players, who we all love to see, it’s about the England national team finally doing well in a tournament.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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