Read the other day that UEFA have been having a go at the Top Four, and in particular Liverpool, for their seemingly large number of squad players. The general secretary David Taylor said:
“Ridiculous. 62? You could have two full-size practice games. You can only field 11 at one time. It’s an open question as to how many you actually need. Is it 20, 25?”
Now, at first it might look like David Taylor has a point, and that the Top Four have exceedingly large amount of squad players. According to their respective websites these are the number of registered players that the Top Four have in their squad:
Liverpool – 62
Chelsea – 46
Arsenal – 64 (approx)
Manchester United: 60 (approx).
So it seems as if UEFA have a really big stick with which to beat the Top Four with. Indeed the article (byJamie Jackson for TheGuardian) does highlight the fact these aren’t first-team players but professionals, but it is easy for these things to get lost in translation, and there will be people on forums demanding that Rafa get rid of some of the deadweight. The article also asks the question why does the Big Four need so many players? Perhaps the managers are playing the averages? You have a plethora of talented youngsters, and you might get a few of them who have the potential to actually make the grade and go on to be the next big thing? This might seem cruel but it is either that or take your chances with a smaller group of players and hope for the best. I mean, Liverpool have hired the likes of Rodolfo Borrell, Arsenal and United all have World Class Youth Coaches as well, so if you have a World-Class Youth System, then is there any point in just hedging your bets with fewer professionals? Or in other words, is there anything to loose by not getting more youngsters (who will be on smaller contracts anyway) in an attempt to get a supply chain of good footballers coming through.
There is also the fact that many of the foreign youngsters might at some time have been courted by other top European clubs. I remember the likes of Christopher Buchtmann, Nikola Saric, and in particular Dean Bouzanis were all chased by some of Europe’s elite. If you are in charge of a big club, and you see a players like those being chased by top clubs, you do not want him falling into the hands of a rival.
However, all these players do mean that some (slightly less talented) players do not get as much of a chance to imrpove, and end up dropping out of the game altogether sometimes. The articles has a quote from Chris Oldfield (on-loan at Accrington Stanley):
“That’s the difference between Liverpool and other clubs, young lads get more of a chance elsewhere.”
I can certainly sympathize with Oldfield and players in his situation. To be at a club you have close affections for, and to feel as if you are slowly slipping away with nobody noticing has to be a demoralizing feeling. However, with Rafa, Fergie, Arsene etc all thinking about the club, and not the individual players, these things are always going to happen. I doubt Arsenal’s much vaunted Youth System would be churning out the players it seems to be doing if the squad-sizes are scaled down.
However, having said all this, I am not totally against the idea of scaling the squads down. It will, after all scale down the money spent on wages, and it will stop the Big Clubs just mass-buying players which has its positives and negatives. All the best young players will still go to the big clubs, and they might gain more benefit from being in a smaller squad.
What I have against this article is that it appears to be aimed directly at the Top Four, forgetting that there are more than four clubs in Europe which huge squads. I cannot believe that this is another case of UEFA having a go at the Premier League because David Taylor is the one instigating this.
Ultimately, the best players will get to the top. If they are foreign and imported from another club in another country, they will most likely still mean less chances for home-grown local lads. And smaller squads would mean there would be far more competition at Youth-Team level and below to get professional contracts. This might give better players, but more players would move out of football altogether at the ages of 16 and 17, as opposed to 19-21 as the article (rightly) points out. So it is a tricky situation for UEFA to consider, but nevertheless they will talk about enforcing this long before they actually do – if they actually do.
Read the full article here.