Following the closing of the transfer window on Friday night, the 20 Premier League clubs have finalised their squads for the 2012/13 season.
Since writing a similar article for Betting Expert after the first weekend of games, the percentage of registered English players has risen from 38% to 40%. This is down largely to the number of squads registering young English players as part of their squad.
Newly-promoted Southampton have the most English players registered, with 20. This includes captain Adam Lallana, goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and last season’s top scorer Rickie Lambert. Their percentage of English players is only outdone by Norwich City; 63% of their squad being English.
Norwich City were the only side to name 8 English players in their starting XI for the opening weekend of the 2012/13 Premier League season. Chris Hughton’s side went down 5-0 at Fulham. Southampton and Stoke City (6 each) were the only other teams to field more than half of their starting XIs with English players.
Neither Fulham or Wigan Athletic (2-0 losers at Chelsea) named a single English player in their starting XI on the opening weekend. However, both sides did bring on one substitute of English nationality in the second half. Steve Sidwell scored a late penalty for Fulham, whilst Ben Watson was unable to save Wigan from losing 2-0 at home to Chelsea.
Matthew Briggs, Steve Sidwell and deadline day signing Kieran Richardson have all started in the Premier League for Fulham. Backup goalkeeper David Stockdale is the only Englishman in their first team yet to make an appearance for the Cottagers. Yes, Fulham only have 4 Englishmen registered, and that is the least amongst Premier League teams.
Wigan Athletic remain the only side after 3 Premier League games yet to start an English player. David Jones has made 1 appearance from the substitute to join Ben Watson as the only Englishmen to represent the Latics in England’s top flight this season. Wigan Athletic have gone 18 Premier League games since they last started at Englishman; Ben Watson in a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on 31 January 2012. They are also managed by a Spaniard.
Last season Wigan Athletic fielded just 3 Englishmen throughout their 38 Premier League games (after Victor Moses switched nationality to Nigerian). Of these 3 players, Callum McManaman was one, and he only made 2 substitute appearances for a total of 18 minutes.
There are currently only 4 English managers in the Premier League too. 3 of these came up through the Championship; Reading’s Brian McDermott, Southampton’s Nigel Adkins and West Ham’s Sam Allardyce. Newcastle’s Alan Pardew is the only Englishman carried over from last season. Tottenham Hotspur fired Harry Redknapp to be replaced by Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas. And when West Brom’s Roy Hodgson left for England, in came Scot Steve Clarke.
Only half of the managers have selected an Englishman to captain their team (classing Stiliyan Petrov as Aston Villa’s club captain, although Darren Bent is the stand-in captain during his absence).
The English Premier League has only recently dropped to number 2 in the UEFA coefficients; losing the top spot to the Spanish La Liga. England’s top flight has had every reason to lay claim to the strongest league in the world over the past decade or so. However, when the Premier League started in 1992, it certainly wasn’t. Manchester United were the first Champions League winners since the inaugural, newly-branded Premier League, when they dramatically beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the 1998/99 final. They had just 4 English players started that evening in Barcelona…
English sides weren’t greatly competitive during the first few years of the Champions League when there was a cap on the number of foreign players. The English national team even failed to record a single victory at Euro 92 and failed to even qualify for World Cup 94 before hosting Euro 96.
What has the limitless number of foreign players done for the English Premier League? I can’t back it up with stats, but I believe they increased the quality and enjoyability of football in this country. Although in cases of Wigan Athletic, something needs looking at to encourage sides to play an Englishman or two…
In all, there 73 different nationalities represented in the Premier League, and here they are:
|Republic of Ireland||34|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||2|
|Antigua and Barbuda||1|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||1|
|Republic of Macedonia||1|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1|