Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

April 15, 2009, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Oh my isn’t football getting exciting at the business end of the season!  Indeed, it would make even the most stoic of characters break out into a little jig.


However, this blog will not pay homage to Arsenal’s dominant win, Manchester United’s professional smothering of Porto or even Liverpool and Chelsea’s fantabulous multi-goal thriller.  Instead, I have been dragged down to the underbelly of the beautiful game by the very organisation that is supposed to mother it.

Yup, I’ll be looking at UEFA/FIFA’s campaign to cut down on foreigners because… well, because English teams seem to be the best at using them.  And as we all know, English teams are still scum because of hooliganism (despite the recent deaths in Italy and Turkey etc).

Sepp Batter

Sepp Batter


Unsurprisingly, the European Champions League semi-finals will include three English teams.  The worries of Michele Platini and Sepp Blatter (left) have been confirmed: we are still dominating European football.

Yup, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea have all sauntered through to the Semis, and anyone who saw FC Porto or Villarreal will agree that the standard of opposition seems so poor that English club dominance will carry on for years.  In all honesty, only Barcelona stand in their way.  Villarrael and Porto looked about as much of a threat as Bolton and Wigan.

Looking into my crystal ball, I can see the usual problems rearing their head, i.e. the “oh it doesn’t count they’re all foreigners innit” argument.  Not only is this idea firmly outside of the anti-racist employment laws overturned by common decency throughout the 20th century, but it is also being fervently pursued by one of the biggest two-faces in the sport.

Yup, welcome to a campaign that has shamelessly been championed by UEFA kingpin Michele Platini… yes the same Michele Platini who, despite being French, spent the most dominant period of his career helping to establish Juventus as European champs.

The same Juventus that went from European also-rans to;

  • Champions League winners (1985) and runners-up (1983)
  • UEFA Cup Winners Cup winners (1984)
  • UEFA Cup winners (1989)

As if Platini spearheading Juventus’ 1980s dominance isn’t enough evidence that this has been going on well before England and the Premiership, let’s have a look through the dominant periods of football, shall we?  Oh and lets throw in the best few players as well, for a bit of bante… or sorry I forgot this is a high brow blog.  For a bit of retrospective recogniscence.

Early 2000s: Real Madrid (key players Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Figo)


Mid 1990s: Ajax (key players Frank de Boer, Davids, Kluivert)


Early 1990s: Barcelona (key players Koeman, Stoichkov, Laudrup)


Late 1980s: AC Milan (key players van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard)


Therefore my conclusion is obvious: UEFA don’t so much have a problem with teams not using home-grown players, they just don’t like English teams not using home-grown players.  Of course, the situation has escalated since the whole 3 foreigners thing was thrown out of the window (damn that pesky non racially repressive employment law!), but the fact remains: the dominant teams have always been made up of expensive foreign imports.

Case in point, the first European Champions League was won by a Real Madrid team led by Alfredo di Stefano, an Argentinian.

So that argument of ‘foreign players not being a part of the club’s tradition’ has been debunked.  Another argument put forward by foreigners jealous of English clubs’ success is that ‘it ruins your national team’.

Admittedly, that argument has more legs.  England did fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championships… but one has to ask whether that had more to do with a grinning clown being in charge or all the foreigners earning a living in England.  After all, we did fail to qualify for the World Cup 1994 (but of course that was while we still had the ‘English Disease’ of hooliganism, so  FIFA didn’t really riverdance/give a damn).

Confronting this idea that the Top 4 teams stifle English talent, consider the best English team that could be selected by this year’s qualifiers alone…

Ben Foster

Wes Brown – John Terry – Rio Ferdinand – Ashley Cole

Steven Gerrard – Frank Lampard – Michael Carrick – Joe Cole

Wayne Rooney – Theo Walcott

That’s a team that would challenge any other in the world (…and I’ve been kind and not even including on-loan League One superstars Jack Hobbs, Kerrea Gilbert, Tom Cleverly or David Martin!).  Therefore it is clearly nonsense to say ‘all these foreigners are holding English players back’ – they are all clearly improving by playing with the best players in the world.

The final argument is that the super strength of the top four ruins the rest of the Premiership.  Again, nonsense.

Of the English ‘Big Four’, they have recently dropped points at Fulham (Man U), Middlesbrough (Liverpool) and even Spurs (Chelsea).  Arsenal lost to anyone they played at the beginning of the season!  As so many teams can do more damage to the ‘big four’, one can summise that the ‘also rans’ of the English league are actually as good as many league winners abroad.

I am all too aware that this argument has been rather long and rambling, which may be because I am tired or it may be because I was bored to tears by Manchester United vs FC Porto tonight.  In case I didn’t make sense, here’s a summary of my criticisms of UEFA/FIFA’s constant moaning about English teams’ deserved success in Europe.

  • 1. If Michele Platini sees it as a disease, he was one of the trendsetters in ‘playingabroad-itis’.  He should therefore give back all the medals he won at Juventus if he hates people playing abroad so much.
  • 2. All the dominant teams had a foreign core (apart from Ajax ’95)… why was there not such a clamour for the ‘Dutch’ AC Milan team?)
  • 3. The problem it has on the English national team, despite almost our entire first XI still having starting positions in the Champions League teams.
  • 4. The dominance over the Premiership, which nobody who follows the league would agree is actually as present as people looking at teamsheets might suggest (case in point Middlesbrough and Fulham’s 2-0 wins over Liverpool and Manchester United).

I have now rather clinically repeated these arguments in an abridged format, very poor writing style I’m sure you agree.  Still, I think it rather neatly summises why I am right and would be more than happy to do so again and again and again until you all agree with me and hold the same disdain I do for UEFA/FIFA and their tired old arguments.

English club football is just run very well – get over it, Seppo and Plattziniiii.





I’m sure you’re bored reading about Leicester City, so just look at this awesome picture of the awesome Max-Alain Gradel.  It says more than I ever could about how good supporting Leicester City is, with particular relevance to our 1-0 win over Leeds.  Dare I say it… promotion is all said and done now.

Fingers crossed we finish the job, before Scunthorpe and MK Dons join us in a promotion wonderland.



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