There has been a lot of press of late, especially during the back end of January, about the abundance of French players at Newcastle United. The coverage of this topic has increased of late due to the rumours circulating on QPR’s Loic Remy making a move to the club he supposedly rejected in January.
At this point in time, Newcastle have 10 French players and 14 Englishmen. When you look at these figures, you start to wander what all the fuss is about. But this data isn’t represented in our actual match day squad, as in the last game of the 2012/2013 season there were only 2 Englishmen in the starting line up.
But surely this is the case for many other clubs? Well yes, if we take a look at Arsenal and Fulham’s squad, less than 20% of the players or English. Futhermore, it was calculated that 58% of all players in the Premiership last season were from foreign countries. In comparison, 60% of players in the Bundesliga are German.
If we look at this on an International level, some interesting correlations emerge. In August 2012, England was 3rd in the world, according to the FIFA rankings. The latest rankings released by FIFA reveal that we are now 15th. Germany on the other hand was as low as 19th in 2004, but since then has climbed to the 2nd spot, behind Spain. These are telling, and quite concerning results.
But back to Newcastle, and for a club that was built around working class Geordies in the late 19th century, the new situation is very different indeed. Is it a negative change? Well if we look at our finishing positions in the Premier League over the last decade or so, then yes, it is. For a team that was challenging for the title in 1996 and 1997, we have definitely endured a fall.
But of course, we cannot blame this on our foreign imports, as there have been many other reasons for this plummet down the table. Sometimes it has been poor management or lack of funds from the various owners over the years, and far to often it has been due to bad luck in the form of injuries.
No one can argue that the Newcastle United of today is certainly very different from club that was flying high during the Kevin Keegan reign.
Sadly, today’s growing demand and supply phenomenon has meant that the club is effectively being run like a business, rather than a football club. No longer is a great player recognised, only a great deal is commended. Perhaps that is a slightly over-generalised point, but you get my point. This means that cheap and cheerful French players are likened to expensive English players.
Perhaps the appointment of a Director of Football is a good idea after all, as this position is not seen as a business-type role, it’s purely for football. I believe/hope that Kinnear will recognise that English players are needed, not only because they will bring more heart, soul and passion to the club but also, more importantly, because the names are much easier to pronounce.
Henry G Winter