Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett today hit out at Greg Dyke’s claim a lack of English players in the Premier League is holding back the national team.
The Football Association’s new chairman believes the reducing numbers of English players in the Premier League – currently 32 per cent – is affecting the success of the England side, describing English football as a “tanker that needs turning”.
But, ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova at Wembley, Jackett argues England do produce world-class players – it’s just they aren’t moulded into a successful team.
“I presume he (Dyke) is blaming the reduced numbers of English players at the top level on the high input from abroad,” said Jackett. “When there were just players from the British Isles in the top division I don’t think the national team was more successful.
“I certainly don’t think in the 1970s and ’80s there were better players when there were no foreign players in the top flight.
“Was Kevin Keegan better than Wayne Rooney?
“It might not be in the amount, but looking at the quality of the English players around, it’s very high.
“Look at Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge and the young wingers – Raheem Sterling, Jordan Ibe, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.”
Jackett believes England have produced world-class midfielders in particular but haven’t used them well.
“Look at the midfield from the 1990s onwards,” he said. “Look at the midfieders in their mid-30s now – Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard and Michael Carrick.
“That’s four outstanding individual players you could put up against anybody in the world. So the players have been there. And I think they are there.
“Scholes is undoubtedly the greatest midfielder of his generation. Zidane said that. So have England done enough to capitalise on Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes and Carrick?”
Jackett concedes England have missed a world-class striker. “The only thing you might be able to say, is have England had a world-class centre-forward,” he added.
England are second in their qualifying group ahead of tonight’s game and Tuesday’s trip to Ukraine.
“But France dominated without one. They had five in midfield and Zidane kept coming through from midfield and scoring. They won the World Cup.
“Maybe in recent competitions Rooney needed to be fit and on form for England to have a chance.
“The centre-forward position is key but I’d question if there were as good if not better players now or recently than before the foreign players.”