May 282008

Euro 2008 is coming up, and predictably, with England not in it, the spotlight has once again come down on the perceived lack of English players in the Premiership. In an article which shows just how statistics can be warped, the BBC claims a ‘dramatic slide’ in those available to Capello.

They begin the article with a graph, showing how the number of English starters has changed over the last eight years. Here it is:

Looks pretty dramatic, doesn’t it? Except when you look closely, you’ll notice that there only appears to be a big drop because of the scale used, with the number of players only ranging from 160 to 208 on the axis. I distinctly remember being taught at school that graphs should not be exaggerated in this way.

But let’s look at the numbers. Five years ago, the number of English starters was 179. This season, 170. Hardly a dramatic drop, nine players in five years. In fact, this year’s drop comes off the back of four years of climbing, despite what the Daily Mail would tell you about ‘forriners taking ah jobs’.

All this completely misses the point. 170 English players is plenty, Capello needs a small fraction of those. It doesn’t matter if there used to be 500 (there never were, incidentally), it isn’t the best players that are missing out, it is those that were never good enough to get near the national side anyway. Those that remain should benefit from playing with quality rather than substandard leftovers.

For England to be successful, the top twenty or so need to be of a high quality, and performing as a team. The former is aptly demonstrated by the fact that there were ten English players in the Champions League final, and the latter is Capello’s job.

There are no excuses. If England fail, it is not the fault of the clubs, it is the fault of the players (who are good enough), and the management team. No-one else.

  6 Responses to “BBC twists statistics once again”

  1. At first I was thinking: WHOA! Then I saw the stats are exaggerated. I do think the EPL needs to promote English talent more – one of the things that does sting a bit with Arsenal (my team). It’s not like you should lower the standards of your team to accomodate English players, rather you should have better facilitated academies and promote English players at grassroots level. Then England will have some mighty fine chaps playing for them in about a decade and the EPL would have more English players. Simple solution but probably hard to put into effect.

  2. You are so right about who should be to blame in the end if all goes wrong, the sad thing is the media doesnt seem to share in your logical reasoning. The sad truth is that when it comes to sport in this country the most any us will ever see of it is talk, talk and more talk about what is wrong with football and grass roots this and grass roots that and no one will put any money where their mouths are.

    The truth is this is probably yet another attempt by the FA to make fans forget how they are not investing the money they make out of us back into football at any reasonable rate, and that thanks to them hiring a total baffoon to run the england team we dont have anyone to represent us in the upcomming championships, thus costing the nation billions, so lets blame the foreigners.

    The reality is England needs to INVEST, INVEST and INVEST some more because quite fraknly this is a problem that can be solved by throwing money at it. INVEST in training players, coaches and managers. INVEST in free or very affordable and accessable facilities, thats five and eleven aside because just having them all over the country would be enough to boost the numbers dramatically. INVEST in a system that unifies the education system with the sports system like they have in the U.S.A and as you can see all their sports are dominated always have been and always will be by Americans and whats more they are all multi-billion dollar industries. INVEST in compensating smaller clubs for having sold off their young english talents to larger premier league clubs so that they can go and advance onto the international stage.

    And just like that you have the blueprint to the answer, not someone going on about foreigners comming in taking over but instead this is the only answer to the problem, an total and aggressive overhaul of the entire footballing system. It requires a lot of time a lot of money and a lot of hard work but sadly i think you’ll find that few will even consider it for that very same reason. It seems until all the sport in this country has fallen apart will wnyone be willing to consider this option and so for now twisting the stastics and miserably failing to ask the right questions is the best you will get from our media.

  3. Great point. I spotted this too – glad someone went on to blog it.

    I actually saw the same reporter (from the BBC program) doing a news interview for SKY. Clearly some kind of PR spin campaign is going on.

    But to resort to messed up graphs is pretty gross.

    Another thing they mentioned is that Italy have the highest percentage of Italian starters in their league then go on to link this with their recent success in the World Cup. What they don’t mention is Germany have one of the lowest league starters percentages (roughly equivalent of that in the premiership) and they have enjoyed (only second to Brazil) the most success in recent world cups.

  4. Your point is well made but remember

    there are stats stats and damn lies. The graph isn’t wrong its just adjusted to view a certain point. No lying – just emphasising a point

  5. Ian, emphasising yes, but I’d go as far to say exaggerating.

    And given that this is the first year in five that there’s been a fall at all, I’m not really sure what their point really is.

  6. quite bright of you, its a damn lie, eEngland needed a better coach who cd combine quality, to make things happen, just immagine, ignoring Becks, England’s most passionate player on the pitch fo England!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.