Chesney turns out for the Bees
Whilst I understand, in Brentford’s case, that the likelihood of bringing in loans is down to injuries, this loan system boils down to the very culture that the Premier League has bred. Results and profit-driven, inflationary-busting wages and fees, and still the increasingly ignored argument over the cost of buying players from the lower leagues, the impact to the rest of our game is getting more and more detrimental.
So, why is the current loan system damaging for our game?
With Premier League clubs spending millions to find their own stars through their academies, there are still a huge number of foreign players that mean it is so difficult to allow your youth players to develop. Understandably, Premier League managers are under intense pressure to obtain results, so they are not risking youth players for meaningful first team action, where playing football is not only about technical mastery, but also about mental strength. A professional training regime where it culminates in a meaningful game is what professional footballers look forward to. It makes or breaks you, when you have to achieve a level of consistency required, and deal with the other facets of playing against experienced pro’s.
From a Premier League manager’s point of view, it allows a young player to go and get meaningful first team action. It is cited so often, but the making of David Beckham was at Preston North End, where he developed his game to deal with men. His particular loaning was immensely impactful to the commencement of his career, but many Premier League English players have been farmed out on loan to gain experience. Some making a real impact, some not in the slightest. At least to the Premier League manager, gaining an understanding of the player’s mental attitude will allow him to choose whether to nurture him into the first team or not.
From a lower league manager’s point of view, it’s a gamble. Is the player mentally tough enough, when there has been no test of his mental strength in his burgeoning career? As the manager, you should know whether the player is physically or technically strong enough, but there is always a risk with such players. A shy personality might well manifest itself int
o the player’s psyche, demonstrating that, perhaps, the player is not ready for first team action. So, the point is that minimising the risk of bringing in a young loanee is extremely difficult because no-one really knows the manner in which the loanee will take to the t
The season-long loan at Brentford turned this young 'un into a genuine Premier League player
There’s no doubt that there is an argument that the current loan system is very Premier League biased. The Premier League clubs lose little if the player under-performs at the lower league club, and gains a greater understanding of their player if they perform well. Lower league clubs, whose finances are utterly different to that of a Premier League club, have to take a gamble on bringing in loan players to bolster their squad, even negotiate long-term deals to save on financing a new signing. Having said that, though, lower league clubs can benefit from the loan system, especially if the parent club assists with costs, and a lower league club can easily end up with a genuinely quality young, hungry player, who can do the job for a couple of months, half a season, or even for an entire season. Financially, this brings its rewards to the lower league club, and everyone wins. Surely this is good for the game?
But no, not in my opinion. There are, as far as I’m concerned, a great deal of very talented young English players who are simply not getting the chances to play at the highest level possible. Instead, they are thrown into a sink or swim situation, where there is no guarantee of first team football when they return to their parent club. And this is the point. The current loan system glosses over the fact that Premier League clubs have an awful lot of young players on their books, in the hope that one or two of them will become a Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, or a John Terry. If they do not show the kind of promise by the time they are 18 or 19, then they risk disappearing into oblivion and dropping down divisions to continue their professional career. But there is a problem with this. Many players genuinely do not get the chance to really make an impact, and a month’s loan here and another month’s loan there simply is not the right way to develop a young player. What they need is a regularity of football, a chance to develop good habits, a chance to react when form dips and play through poor form, and a chance to cement their worth to a team. They cannot get that at a Premier League club, at the level of intensity required. And they can only really get that at a lower league club if on a long-term loan deal.
But, Premier League club managers are under intense pressure to gain results. No matter who you are, you will struggle to want to take a gamble on your younger players within the Premier League, and squads are made up of a handful of good quality English/British-based players, but there is still far too many foreign players within the game, which means less opportunities for young English players. Their opportunities come in the form of playing for lower league clubs where exposure is far less, and they have no guarantee of first team football when they return. If there were less foreign players in the game, then English players would have to be utilised more, gaining more experience at the highest level possible, and the lower leagues would have the chance to nurture their own young players and develop them through their own ranks. And this is the key to my point regarding the current loan system.
Lower league clubs simply cannot develop young players in the same way as pre-Bosman or Premier League days. Look at the players of yesteryear, who came through the lower leagues to play in the top flight. It hardly happens anymore, and this kills lower league clubs, who can no longer rely on transfer fees from bigger clubs. In the same way that a Premier League manager will go out and spend money on bringing new faces in (often cheap foreign imports), then the lower league manager is under much pressure to obtain results and rather than risk blooding his own young players, may well look to the Premier League clubs for a quality loan signing (preferably with financial assistance from the parent club). And then what happens to all these players who simply are not getting the chances? What then becomes the point of becoming a young player at a lower league club if your chances are far slimmer than ever before? So foreign clubs offload their players for good money, and continue to develop their youngsters in their leagues. Premier League clubs take such players, providing less chances for young players who then get farmed out to lower league clubs for a month here and there, and young players in lower leagues get left behind and often end up in non-league, losing their chance to make a career out of football. This can never be good for the game, where literally only the very best English young players even get a sniff of a chance, where due to the current loan culture, many players will slip through the net. Let’s face it, given a chance, many players can perform at a higher level. Many players develop at a later stage of their careers too. But if not given a chance, what next?
Never the same player after his loan spell at PNE
Where will the DJ Campbell’s come from? What about the likes of David Platt who came from Crewe, to enjoy a hugely successful career? Will we be able to see the likes of Ian Wright get a chance to step up from Sunday League? Just what does this mean for young English players? How might this impact our national team, when the Premier League simply develops foreign players and not our own? Why do we not export our players abroad in the same numbers as other countries?
In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having foreign players in the Premier League. The impact of the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Eric Cantona, Gianfranco Zola are immense and good for the game. But, what is good about having the average foreign players come into our game? I’m not saying that we should force Premier League clubs into buying English, but there must surely be some kind of creation of incentive for Premier League clubs to nurture their own or buy from the lower leagues. If the current trend continues, expect less and less English players to come through the ranks, develop their game, and play for Premier League teams. Instead, many English players will be in the Championship, not playing at the very highest level required to compete with the very best, and our national team will suffer. If the welfare of our national game and team is important to us fans, then we have to consider what actions are required in order to combat the lack of opportunities for young players. The loan system is not the answer.
My problem is that everything that is bad about our game points towards the greed of the Premier League. Its obsession with money and results, its power, its sheer size gives it far too much power within the game, when its very existence threatens so much of our game. Football is not about a handful of powerful clubs, or eventually we may well end up with only the very biggest clubs dominating our landscape in much a similar manner to the way our grocery purchases are dominated by Tesco and similar multiple supermarket chains.
Are we going to accept this? Is it not time that we, as people with voices, speak up and really put some pressure at the top, so we can lead the lives we want to lead? We want choice and there must be the opportunity for many more people to succeed.
So, the fundamental point is that our society is too greedy. This one point is associated with so much that is detrimental to the majority’s way of life. We are being denied either a choice or the opportunity to succeed. This is especially significant in football, a sport that dominates many people’s lives, where we continue to see less and less English players play at the very highest level, and it has already severely affected our national team. We can pontificate over numbers of solutions to the current loan system, which may well help our game, but never solve the problems that we have without a complete cultural change.
Whilst this is my first blog (so please forgive my lack of structure and any other major errors within), I hope that over the coming weeks, months, even years, I will be able to highlight many aspects of what I believe is wrong with our society, that manifests itself in almost everything that can have an impact on our lives. I hope that you may become interested in my opinions (whether right or wrong) so that perhaps we can make more sense of our world, and maybe identify what WE can do to improve our own and our children’s lives. I hope that you might follow my blogs and tweets and share your opinions. If you agree with any of my opinions, I hope that over time, we can shout about it and create a new voice that speaks real sense.
And I don’t expect my blogs to simply be long-winded complaints too. Keep your eye out on things that are interest me that may well interest you.
Thank you for reading my first blog.