Brighton FanZoner Brett Mendoza questions whether the current side reflects the local community.
New academy is a step in the right direction
For the first time in my life, I found myself agreeing with FIFA President, Sepp Blatter. He said that there are too many foreigners in the English game, and that it affecting our national team for the worse.
The national team are always a source of constant disappointment in major tournaments, with the players earning more money in a week than I do in the 4 years in-between said major tournaments.
If I look closer to home, the same statement could be said about our very own Brighton & Hove Albion. We have the only non European manager in the country, and in theory we can now field a very competitive starting XI without a single English man in it.
Playing in England, no English players seems like a strange notion to me. But is it good for the game? Poyet is the best manager I have seen take charge of the Albion. Vicente is without doubt the best ever player I have seen wear the stripes and the Spanish flavour to our squad makes us a joy to watch.
No doubt the foreign players are technically better than the English, and a better quality and will bring more success to the club at less cost, but does it lose some of the romance in the grass roots of the game?
This week we took over the land to build our new £15million training academy which will look after kids from the Under 9's through to the first team. If in theory we could field a non English XI, is there much point in building such a state of the art academy, and what incentive do Sussex school kids have to become a footballing great like their idols?
It was only five years ago that we were in League One fielding a fairly competitive team made up mostly of Sussex kids. Lynch, Elphick, El Abd, Hammond, Cox, Robinson to name a few. I think we got as far as playing a few games with 9 of the starting 11 from Sussex. It was great to see, a vision masterminded by Dean Wilkins who nurtured these kids through the youth academy to the first team.
There's no question that if those players were still playing for our first team now, they would most likely be in the relegation zone, but surely there has to be some kind of ruling to stop a whole non British XI?
I know it's more fairytale sounding, but we play in The "Community" Stadium, so to feasibly achieve success with none of the local community on the pitch seems strange. Of course I would love it if we got promoted/gained success without the need for local or English players, but I think a part of me will always think it is a bit tainted.
Gus has just today gone on record saying that "in five years time we will see the first team with plenty of British players from our academy," so lets hope that can happen. We already have El Abd and there are high hopes for Jake Forster-Caskey. It will be great to see who else we have up our sleeve!
Even at the very top of the game, the teams have local lads come good. Man Utd have Cleverly & Welbeck. Chelsea have John Terry, Liverpool have Gerrard and Sterling, Arsenal have Wilshere, Gibbs and Szczesny.
For me it would be amazing to see Brighton holding their own in the Premier League with a blend of local kids and some superstars from England and further a field. Hopefully under the vision of Tony Bloom and Gus Poyet, that's exactly what will happen!
After dispatching of Newcastle, we get another chance to see how we may fair in the top flight as this weekend we take on Arsenal in the 4th round of The FA Cup. I do love a good cupset, and with this Arsenal team, it may just happen. If the proper Arsenal turn up however, keeping the scoresheet under 4 would be a great achievement.
Anyway, this year has been quite good to us already, let's hope it continues. On my immediate wish list now are; Ulloa getting his international clearance so he can play. New hero, Spanish Dave, signs a new contract. Vicente gets back to full fitness to Ole us to promotion. And finally we sign Van Dijk and keep hold of our stars during the transfer window to make a push for the Premier League dream!