Why the Premier League is the reason for England’s international struggles

The mere appointment of an Eddie Howe, Jurgen Klinsmann or anyone else as the England manager would never be enough to seek solutions for the state of the English national side.

The problems are more deeply rooted than some conceive.

Selecting Michael Keane or bringing in a fresh approach to the side and changing the way the team plays won’t transform the whole scenario of the situation.


Gareth Southgate has roped in the Burnley defender, who has enjoyed a really good start to the season, probably sparking the beginning of how the new manner of selecting players from lesser-known clubs would go about.

The sacked Big Sam Allardyce pioneered that by deservedly calling up West Ham star Michail Antonio, allowing Southgate to follow in his steps after Glen Johnson was ruled after sustaining injury, following his rather despised call-up instead of the sidelined Nathaniel Clyne.

The Euros were a classic example of how the English side endures a tragic, yet much-expected downfall in big tournaments, despite doing really well right before the tournaments starts off.

But a day after elimination, normal life had begun. People began to commute to offices once again, Pizza Huts and Dominoes resumed dishing out pizzas, burgers and fries as normal.

Apart from the memes and trolls that go around the social media, nothing much cared about the elimination, barring some banners mocking it.

And apart from Roy Hodgson’s popular dismissal, nothing much changed.

The issue about the national side doesn’t pertain to who is in charge or about who performs on the pitch; it relates far more than that to the things that happen in the background, especially for the Premier League clubs.

There are many who blame the incoming of outsiders as one of the reasons for as to why England players can’t perform and match the expectations of those want them to reach the bar of stars from Germany or Spain

And the presence of outsiders in a country, denies the locals of resources and opportunities to furnish themselves, and this supposition seems to linger around here too.

It’s felt that with the increasing diversity in the game, the presence, influence and abilities of English players is slowly decreasing, leading to an expansion in the presence of foreign players.

Players from Germany, Netherlands and France are supposedly snatching away the opportunities, that English players would otherwise get.

This, according to some, is a reason for the decline in the quality of the English national team.

Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, in their book ‘Soccernomics’ suggest that only 32 percent of starters were English in the 2012-13 season, a number which could’ve been more if not for ‘foreign invasion’.

But a proper understanding of numbers and statistics can prove this premise wrong, says Kuper and Szymanski.

An absence of English players isn’t a reason for bad football, but their presence actually is, and the fact that there are too many English players in England is also a problem.


But the whole point here is that despite having 32 percent of players, England fail to find 22 players who could represent the country.

It’s clear that English players get too much too much experience of top level, only less than the Germans and Spanish.

Playing against the best foreign players week in, week out is enough to knock the stuffing out of any athlete.

They put their bodies on the line against top quality players every single week and they expect themselves to do well as they can in every game they play in the Premier League.

England’s performances in the World Cup has improved since the Bosman ruling came in 1992 – they have reached four quarter finals in eight attempts and the win percentage increased from 52 percent in 1968-1992 to 62 percent in the period after 1992.

Although, this is suggestive of how the international game has improved the performance of England in World Cups, but the expectations of peaking in every game takes a physical toll on players, due to which England has always been at the receiving end of losses early in the tournament.

And the demanding nature of the Premier League cripples them, disallowing them to be at their best for their nation.

And as an aftermath of the exhaustion they’ve gone through for the club, England players( out of whom all ply their trade in England) start for their country tired and more debilitated than the opposition or than the other giants.

Sometimes, players are half-fit when appearing for the nation, just because their time at the club seems to weigh them down.

Germany, Italy and Spain have leagues in which the diversification of nationalities and the so-called internationalisation hasn’t taken place and are miles apart in that aspect, as compared to the Premier League.

Bayern Munich play a rather lowly Freiburg one week, Darmstadt the next. Barcelona play Leganes one week, Eibar the next. But Tottenham, who seem to form the core the English side now, play West Brom away one week, Bournemouth away the next.

And in mid-week, they play Champions League or League Cup games too, and that mounts the exhaustion and demand further.

Then they are off to play for England and at the end of most games, receive criticism for their showings for the Three Lions.

Apart from Joe Hart, there’s no England player who plies his trade away from the Premier League.

They are subjected to the pressures, burdens and physical demands of the league every week. They earn more money than they would in Germany or Spain because the Premier League is more commercialised than any other league in the world.

Money has a part to play in luring them and keeping them in England and because they can’t escape from England to feature in more laid-back leagues, their performances for the national side suffers.

Amidst all this, another prominent reason that tends to let the England national team down is the absence of the Christmas break, which German clubs, Spanish clubs and Italian clubs get.

At a time when foreign players chill out and relax during vacations in LA or the Middle East, Premier League players drain themselves by playing more games than usual in freezing climatic conditions.

And their physical condition, which is already unenviable, worsens further in this case.

Spanish players come out refreshed, all set to raise the bar of their performances, while English players are left to struggle take it to a respectable level.


The Euros proved why the Premier League itself is the prime reason for the decline, or stagnation of English football. There were many instances in England’s cup run that clearly reflected the sluggishness of the English players.

The Iceland game, in which the side clearly lacked the hunger and energy to score against the more determined Icelandic outfit, saw the likes of Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Dele Alli and a majority of players come up with tired performances at a time when an impressive showing was required to take England through.

Although, some of Harry Redknapp’s decisions were acrimonious but he wasn’t the actual culprit behind the embarrassing defeat.

And much like after every exit from a major tournament, scapegoats were identified and made fun of.

Rooney, Hodgson and Harry Kane’s pathetic set-piece taking abilities supposedly were blamed for the exit, but they are a product of the pressures of the Premier League and its faulty structure.

And its time we begin to accept the fact, rather painfully, that until the Premier League doesn’t change and come out of the invincible grasp of commercial, the England national team would never come close to success.

The Author

Kaustubh Pandey

20, Football Writer, CalcioMercato, ThePeoplesPerson, EPLIndex, VAVEL, InsideFutbol. Aspiring Football Journalist. The game's not about life and death, it's something much more than that.

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