Wow. Sir Alex and Sepp Blatter decide to support one another in their effort to curtail the number of foreign players in a league defying EU employment regulations. Sir Alex issued a BNP like statement when he said, "But, for the good of the game in England, it would be good to see more home-based players at the top clubs."
This high minded statement invoking nationalism and nostalgia seems to have been lost on Sir Alex in the off season when he went into panic mode to bolster his striker corps. Considering his statement "it would be good to see more home-based players at the top clubs" his obvious choice should have been Darren Bent who scored regularly for relegation bound Charlton Athletic. In reality, his two biggest targets were Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov. He is willing to pay 30m for a permanent transfer for Tevez who has become central to Man Utd's chances of lifting their tenth title just like Cristiano Ronaldo's form was instrumental in their success last season. As did Eric Cantona in 1992. Bent might have been home based but obviously he was not good enough for Sir Alex. In a roundabout way, Sir Alex's statement also ridicules home based players who might want to play for another club, like Gareth Bale who chose Spurs even as Man Utd pursued him and matched their offer.
Lets see where this statement stands. By "for the good of the game in England" it would mean long balls to a couple of players who by their dint of being a few inches taller could conceivably nod it into goal. Or is it England's last success at the 1966 World Cup when Sir Alf Ramsey employed wingers in a quaint 5-3-2 formation? Is Sir Alex asking English soccer to go back to those days? Or is it nostalgia for hooliganism? Or Lee Bowyer like racism? Maybe Sir Alex should have held back on throwing that shoe at Beckham? Or taught Ronaldo not to dive and play the game somewhat more upright for the good of the game in England?
Lets further debunk the myth of Sir Alex further giving the nod to home based players. In the last 7 seasons the only home based transfers have been Luke Steele, Rio Ferdinand, Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney, Ben Foster, Michael Carrick, and Owen Hargreaves. Out of them only two start the Man Utd squad. The other 25 transfers are foreign based. It was all going swimmingly well for Sir Alex till the 2001-2002 season when Arsenal won and from thereon, it became an Arsenal and Chelsea show for the title. Not coincidentally that is when Sir Alex decided to jettison the home based players and open up to all the foreign transfers. He figured it would pay dividends and it did.
Much of what was good for the English game seems to be an abstraction. England was never very good in soccer and it really makes no difference even with all the foreign players in the league nowadays. English talent will find its way to the top even though Arsenal or Liverpool may take more foreign players. In the end it is Peter Crouch, Theo Walcott, and Paul Robinson playing in the English squad and not Didier Drogba, Nani, or Petr Cech.
But patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. "For the good of the game in England" is a nice rallying cry to those clubs who genuinely can't afford the transfer fees of the foreign players but lets not get fooled, when push comes to shove, Sir Alex and Man Utd will be looking for their next high priced acquisition anywhere else except Old Blighty.