The Offside Treble – Burnley flying the flag, Allardyce bemoans international injuries and Hollywood film pays tribute to Hoddle

This week Jen Offord talks about the BBC’s ‘State of the game’ study’, Sam Allardyce’s international injury woes, David Bernstein’s idea to boycott World Cups and how a Hollywood film has paid tribute to Glenn Hoddle.

Ghost Town

BBC Sport this week published the results of its second annual ‘State of The Game’ study, into the international make-up of the English Premier League and the impact of this on our national talent pool.

One. Steven Reid was the only non-UK player to play for Burnley in the first six games of the season

One. Steven Reid (Republic of Ireland) was the only non-UK player to play for Burnley in the first six games of the season

Six months after the FA committed to doing more to encourage growth within the domestic talent pool – by ensuring a better representation of English players in the Premier League – the results aren’t pretty. Turns out, the marginal rise in English players since last year (just under 4%) can be directly attributed to Burnley, who have only one non-English player.

Without Burnley flying the flag, as it were, there would have been no rise at all. Though you do wonder if Burnley had a bit more cash to throw around, if they would have made the same choices for their squad? Premier League ‘big dogs’, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City all use the fewest UK players, it transpires.

The results – which come just months after our most disastrous World Cup campaign to date – found that out of 44 new signings made by the top eight Premier League teams during the 2013-14 season, 33 of these were non-UK players.

With Robbie Savage helpfully commenting that if you’re “good enough you will make it”, let’s not get all UKIP about it – he’s probably got a point. But what’s being done to make sure our home-grown players are good enough? Won’t somebody have a word with Germany, already? Apparently they’re quite good at this stuff.

International Love

And continuing the angst-ridden rhetoric around our national team and how utterly pointless it all is, spare a tiny violin for West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, who lost two of his big guns to injury, following international duty. England’s Stuart Downing was substituted at half-time against Scotland this week with a knee problem and Diafra Sakho was ruled out of Senegal’s game against Botswana with a back injury.

Allardyce comments “…it’s disappointing that, through no fault of our own, we could be without those players.” Not being funny Sam, but how did you figure it was international duty ruling Sakho out, when he didn’t actually play?

Regardless, this is not the first time we’ve seen tensions between league and international commitments. Perhaps we should all just pack up and go home? After all, we’ve got a World Cup in Qatar in a couple of years that can’t even be played during the summer break. According to former FA boss David Bernstein, who’s suggesting we start boycotting World Cups in a peasant’s revolt against our feudal overlords FIFA, that’s not actually such a bad idea – going home, I mean. I suspect he feels rather differently about the 2022 host nation, much like anyone else who didn’t receive PRESENTS during the bidding process.

Imitation of Life

Finally, the Daily Mail Online reports this week (So it must be true) that Glen Hoddle has been paid tribute to in Hollywood (spelt “Holloywood”, by The Mail – check yourselves) film, The Imitation Game. A military van bearing the number plate “HOD 75” is apparently “clearly” a reference to the bemulleted one’s 1975 Tottenham Hotspurs debut.

An unnamed crew member apparently explained the incident thus: “A member of the film’s art department is a big Tottenham fan.” But how did it go down with Arsenal and Hammers supporting stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, we hear you cry? Make yourself known, art department member, I’m desperate to know how slow a week it’s been at The Mail.

Read more from Jen Offord here!

Follow @inspireajen

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