Ballon D’Or: English Players Ignored

27 10 2010

Anyone who is a consistent reader of this website will realise that we rarely write about football. It’s not that we don’t like it you understand – it’s just that we get our ideas more quickly for pieces from the worlds of rugby and cricket in particular. Today, however, we are going to break the mold and talk about the English Premier League and FIFA’s Ballon D’Or award for European player of the year.

With the nominations of players for this award being announced in the past couple of days, it is immediately noticeable that there is not a single English player on this list. This is something that in our opinion is hardly a surprise yet still appears to be generating exactly that.

Obviously not helped by England’s poor showing at the World Cup earlier this year, a tournament where England’s footballing ability appeared to be more on a par with a Moldova or Andorra rather than the top nations of the world, it should serve as a slight reality check.

For many years the state of English football has been covered up by the oft repeated claim that the best players in the world play in the English Premiership, thereby making it the ‘best league in the world’. We have always felt that this is a slight malapropism.

The Premier League has long been probably the most followed league in the world and can hardly be faulted for drama and a certain frenetic and exciting quality – something which the slower paced leagues of Spain and Italy can sometimes be accused of lacking. This however does not necessarily make it the best in terms of footballing quality and certainly does not mean that the English national game is in a good way.

This particular fallacy was brought to a crushing end at the World Cup with not one English player appearing to have even close to the technical ability of the Spanish, Germans or Dutch. It is hardly a surprise therefore that there are no English players nominated for the Ballon D’Or. Indeed over the past eleven years only three English players (Beckham, Lampard and Gerrard) have even come close to winning this coveted award. The sole English recipient during this time being Michael Owen in 2001.

With Fabio Capello’s England having difficulties in the qualifying rounds of the 2012 European Cup currently, things are not looking promising for the national game. Perhaps it is the fault of the media for consistently raising the fans expectations; perhaps it is the fans themselves who by putting on enormous amounts of pressure inhibit the team, or perhaps, and this is in our opinion much more likely, most English players (barring a few obvious exceptions) are simply not good enough to dine regularly at the top table (despite this England generation regularly being called a ‘golden generation’ in the media). It’s not such a problem at club level where you can bring in the Drogba’s, Hernandez’s or Fabregas’s of this world, but something needs to be done to improve things. As to what – we have no idea, although we would hope that surely someone has some good ones. Otherwise it could easily be another ’30 years of hurt’ or more…

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