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European failures in need of makeover?

The changing landscape of English football

By | 28th December 2011

While the demotion of Manchester City and Manchester United from the UEFA Champions League to the second-tier Europa League has been very well documented, the Premier League leaders have company when it comes to failure in Europe this season.

The London pairing of Fulham and Tottenham did not even make the final 32 of Europa League and with Championship outfit Birmingham out of contention as well, Stoke is the only other side representing England in the competition.

Another London pairing, Arsenal and Chelsea, are meanwhile tipped to struggle against AC Milan and Napoli, respectively, when the Champions League knock-out stages begin in a few weeks.

Given that the odds of any English club succeeding in any of the two aforementioned competitions are rated as very slim, one wonders if there is a missing ingredient that would fill in the gaps.

John Gontier, who has served as the driving force behind Racing Portuense – a Spanish club committed to the development of young English talent – weighs in with his thoughts on the issue.

“The elimination of Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Birmingham and Fulham from Europe will re-enforce our nextstars project in Spain,” Gontier exclusively told Premiership Talk.

He added: “Young English players have to move abroad to acquire international experience to become better all round players.”

Gontier also suggests that English football’s preference for certain types of players threatens to force many overlooked starlets to seek opportunities abroad, which benefits other nations at England’s expense.

“The pity is that English teams haven’t shown the interest initially expected. The mindset at English clubs need to change,” Gontier explained, before moving on to Portuense’s most significant recent achievements.

“Our success story has been that Tom Corner and Conor Grogan are now at Real Valladolid on trial after being scouted here,” he concluded.

The vastly different techniques involved in English and Spanish football have thus far prevented the two top-flight leagues from swapping players routinely.

However, Spaniards such as Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, David Silva, and Juan Mata have become proven performers in the Premier League.

On the other hand, aside from David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Jonathan Woodgate, who all spent time at Real Madrid a few years ago, no Englishman has ventured into Spanish territory.

This lack of exposure to various foreign techniques has prevented English clubs from developing their youth in a well-rounded manner, at least according to Gontier.

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