Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

One Thing, Greg ... Can the FA Stop Ignoring the North East?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

One Thing, Greg ... Can the FA Stop Ignoring the North East?

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS The voice of North East sport

THERE was much to admire about the oratory delivered by Greg Dyke on Wednesday as he confronted the looming crisis about to flatten the England football team.

It was forthright, honest and didn't shy away from the obvious problems that cling to the English game. And while his target of winning the World Cup by 2022 was subject to ridicule, it also made a refreshing change from Sir Trevor Brooking's mealymouthed promise that his grassroots changes might have an effect in a generation or two.

For all that his speech had me nodding my head in agreement, there was a part that had me arching my eyebrow. This would be the section where Newcastle and Sunderland were highlighted for their part in weakening the England team.

For clarity, we should recap exactly what he said. Halfway through his speech, Dyke explained the paucity of options available to the England manager with three examples.

Here, his words are reproduced exactly: "A second example, Sunderland have signed 14 players during the summer transfer window. They are made up of four Italians, three Frenchmen, one Swiss, one Czech, one American, one Greek, one Swede, one South Korean and a sole Englishman.

"In fact, in Sunderland's first game of the season against Fulham there were only four players on the pitch at the start of the game who were actually qualified to play for England. "Mind you, in the Newcastle team beaten 4-0 by Manchester City on that same opening weekend it was even worse - there was only one English player in their starting line-up." Unfortunately, these are the arguments of someone who has failed to delve deeper than the merest glance at the two club's respective teamsheets.

Next time he speaks, I hope Dyke has been set straight about the slow corroding of the North East's relationship with the England football team - and exactly why English talent is failing to break through in this region.

For a start, both clubs had wanted to add English players to their squads over the summer. At Sunderland, Paolo Di Canio had Danny Rose and Tom Huddlestone - both in the England set-ups - on his hit-list but Tottenham did not want to sell their leftback to the Black Cats.

The reason for this was not because they worried that Sunderland's cosmpolitan revolution might be harming the England team. Far from it: they now believe he is good enough to start games. Even so, they still signed Vlad Chiriches for PS8.5m in the full knowledge that the Romanian can play left-back when required.

So the problem here is not a foreign manager and owner prioritising Italian talent. It is a Premier League elite that can afford to stockpile English talent, thus preventing it from filtering through when it is not being utilised. …

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