With Walcott Axed, Zero Arsenal Players in English Team
Perhaps this is a frivolous post, but with Theo Walcott shockingly omitted from Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad, the England national team are left with ZERO players from Arsenal traveling to South Africa.
Sure, Arsenal FC will be well-represented in this year’s tournament: William Gallas (France), Robin van Persie (Holland), Niklas Bendtner (Denmark), Cesc Fabregas (Spain) to name a few. But I find it not only disheartening that none of the English squad are Gunners, but an indictment on Arsene Wenger’s questionable personnel decisions.
Let me point out that I am American, and perhaps it is not my place to speculate on the feelings of the average English football fan, but on those Champions League nights where the Gunners take to the pitch and there is zero English representation, it just doesn’t sit right with me. It is just as Internazionale’s European title with zero Italian representation seemed ridiculous (although Internazionale’s name and identity stem from seceding from AC Milan and being one of football’s first clubs to target international players, but I digress).
Admittedly, we live in a different football world than even just 15 years ago. It is a global transfer market, a business based not on national identity but on money and winning trophies. So I am under no delusion that Wenger’s seeming refusal to play English players is tantamount to blasphemy. The game, and Premier League in particular, is littered with international players playing on foreign clubs. Chelsea have just four English regulars, Man United four or five, and Liverpool just three.
But I believe in ‘home-grown’ quotas and domestic player requirements, because without imposing such rules, domestic leagues will lose any semblance of identity. It is borderline absurd that one could conceivably watch an Arsenal – Inter European Cup tie and see zero English players and zero Italian players. A club in a UEFA competition should be representing a certain country, not just the league in which that club plays. Call me old-fashioned or naive, or both, but I want to see English players playing for their English clubs on European nights.
Certainly making the big leagues more cosmopolitan has incredible positives, like making the game and clubs more ‘accessible’ to different nationalities across the globe, helping Americans to Ghanaians identify with a team because one of their own plays for that club. This helps grow the game worldwide.
But limits have to be established. Domestic fans need players to identify with, and like it or not, an English fan will identify with a Frank Lampard or a Steven Gerrard more than an Emmanuel Adebayor or a Tomas Rosicky.
The reason I single out Arsenal is because I feel it is inexcusable for a club of Arsenal’s enormous stature to field no English players, and to send zero to the World Cup. It is disheartening and discouraging.
Arsenal are a proud club, a good club that handles their business in a good manner. But Wenger should be called out on his reluctance to field English players, because he manages in the English Premier League and should understand that English players must be involved in his vision for the club. When he came to North London, the likes of David Seaman, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, David Platt, Ian Wright and Ray Parlour were in the side that won the Premier League in 1998.
That English spine has been steadily chipped away to near nonexistence. Besides, it is not as if Arsenal have been successful in recent years. Perhaps a rethink is due.
Hopefully the likes of Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott can actually get a fair shake from their French manager in the near future, because an Arsenal team with no English representation and an England national team with no Arsenal representation is good for no one.
How do Arsenal fans feel about having no players in the England team? Is it a non-issue, or does it rub you the wrong way?
Leave your comments below.