Carlos Tevez's well documented grouse with his playing minutes at West Ham, Thierry Henry becoming ornery at Arsenal, Sheva feeling that he is not part of the Mourinho system at Chelsea, Giuseppe Rossi being overlooked in Newcastle, and Javier Mascherano has all but disappeared. All a coincidence or do they underline a structural flaw in the Premiership? Is it a sink or swim system with far too many matches in the season producing early player burnout? With investors sinking in millions of pounds buying out clubs, the feeling is that they are entitled to instant success. With this comes distorted expectations of their foreign players.
For Sheva who had already tasted success in AC Milan with his scoring, coming to Chelsea rested upon his wife's decision to like London. He actually was quite lukewarm to the idea of playing in the Premiership. So far his Chelsea debut is proving to be a nightmare and for a pure striker, he has scored very few goals. He was adored by thousands of AC Milan fans, most of them who long to have him back and Sheva is a player who thrives on that sort of emotion. His reception at Chelsea has been quite lukewarm and it has taken him some months to find out that he is a cog in the Jose Mourinho machinery, a 30 million pound one, but quite easily discarded.
Carlos Tevez is an exciting player and one of the many Argentine players touted as the future of the Albiceleste. But Tevez knows that playing minutes are crucial to him, as players in other leagues, are getting far more extended time in their clubs staking their claim to national team representation. At the least, there are a half dozen strikers waiting in the wings for a call. Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito, Sergio Aguera, Fernando Cavenaghi, Gonzalo Higuain, Mariano Pavone. Alan Pardew probably does not understand the depth the Argentinians have in this department. After all it is a wealth of riches rarely seen in English football.
Part of the seduction playing in the English league is that it is the most watched league in the world. It is the most successful league in that regard, a fact that football pundits frequently mistake for a more sweeping generalization of the supremacy of English football. With that hype comes the feeling that foreign players should feel entitled playing in the league. The FA before the World Cup issued a statement that bragged about the number of players representing their national squads. 107 players out of a total of 736 players.The Bundesliga was a distant second with 70. However, as the World Cup went on and teams were eliminated, the representation of the English league fell. The Bundesliga, Serie and La Liga were better represented in the more successful teams. Their players actually contributed more with better defense and attack whereas the English League made up the numbers.
Most Brazilians and Argentinians bypass this hype and head for the Serie and La Liga because these leagues develop their players better with far better skill. There is a longer and deeper understanding in these leagues of the importance of foreign players. Their talent scouting is far more extensive. The passage to their national teams become more assured when playing in these leagues. It is safe to say that Tevez would not have had his hissy fits playing in the La Liga. Hernan Crespo and RVN are having their times of their life at Inter and Real. Interestingly, Real's most miserable player is David Beckham, part of the Premiership hype and a media product while playing in England.
The Thierry Henry doldrums is a bit strange. After all if there is a coach sensitive to the needs of so many foreign players, it is Arsene Wenger, since finding a true blue English player in Arsenal is akin to trying to find a pin in a haystack. This is a case of player burnout. Too many matches and saddled with the Arsenal captaincy. Henry is not one to lead and rally his troops. He is a bit moody and distant for all of that. This Arsenal team requires more captaincy than most with its up and down performances. Wenger should relieve Henry of captaincy duty and give him time off. At this stage, it looks difficult for Arsenal to make up the difference and win the Premiership. So Henry's hiatus will not be missed. So far, Theo Walcott has not been doing too badly in his cameo role.
The unlimited money and the gigantic TV viewership of the Premiership, distorts expectations, masking the reality, that in the end; it understands foreign players far less well than its league counterparts.