After looking at what the homegrown rule means for United, I thought it would be interesting to see how we compare with rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. Here’s a quick recap on what the changes mean:

– Homegrown players are defined as those having been trained at a club or clubs in England or Wales for three years before the end of the season in which they became 21 and do not have to be English.

– Clubs are also permitted to register and play an unlimited number of under-21s.

– New Premier League legislation states that clubs will have to include 8 homegrown players in a senior squad of no more than 25. If clubs cannot fill their quota of eight homegrown players, then their senior squads will be short.

I’ve included the average age of the homegrown players, which helps indicate their experience

Players like Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are also homegrown but are included in part of the limitless U-21 pot.

Names taken from Arsenal.com.

“We are very near the culmination of many years hard work to find and build a facility that is key to the future of the club and will be one of the leading centres in the world,” said Peter Kenyon in 2007. “Developing homegrown players is a vitally important goal for Chelsea.”

However, three years have gone by and Chelsea’s homegrown quota is pretty dismal.

Players like Daniel Sturridge and Michael Woods are also homegrown but are included in part of the limitless U-21 pot.

Names taken from SkySports.com

In contrast, we’re doing amazingly well for homegrown players this season.

Players like Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are also homegrown but are included in part of the limitless U-21 pot. Rafael, Fabio and Macheda are also U-21 but will be legible for the homegrown pot as of next September.

However, whilst Ryan Giggs had the 5th highest number of assists of anyone in the Premiership at 35 and Paul Scholes is capable of dictating any game, you do have to wonder how many years there are ahead of them. So, we’ll look at the players who should keep these teams going for the next four years at least, the 26 and unders. This is of course ignoring the homegrown players that are coming through the ranks at each of these clubs. With our Reserves as the current Champions of England, for example, it stands to reason a few of those would come through over the next four years. But as it’s impossible to know which of the next crop of youngsters at all three clubs will be a success, regardless of potential, it’s pointless to look at academy players and work out which of those will be future homegrowns.

The oldest of Arsenal’s current homegrown is 25 anyway, so they should have plenty of years out of all of them (if they continue to develop and progress. Mannone? Djourou?)

None of Chelsea’s current homegrowns who are 26 and younger have any kind of pedigree a the club, making just a handful of appearances for the first team.

Again, we’re doing alright. We’ve got a solid base of homegrown players, with Rooney and Fletch probably our two most important players.

Now, the homegrown rule wouldn’t have a massive impact on United anyway. Looking at the squads we’ve had under Sir Alex Ferguson, they’ve always included a good proportion of players from the academy, whether superstars like David Beckham or Ryan Giggs, or the sturdy squad players like Nicky Butt and Phil Neville.

The goal of the rule is to improve the quality of young players coming through, which of course is a good thing for the national side, and I suppose it would be nice to see more English players in the Premiership. However, if you look at Arsenal’s homegrown list, only 1 from the list of 8 is English, showing that having homegrown players doesn’t necessarily mean having more English players.

Essentially, worst case scenario, this rule could be far more damaging for world football. How many 17/18-year-olds are going to get plucked from their youth set up at whichever European/South American they’re currently at and brought over here to make sure they meet the guidelines. How many of these players will then be loaned out to Championship/bottom half of the table Premiership teams to see if they fit the bill? And then after a few years, if it doesn’t work out, shifted back to where they came from?

Even the players that do fit the bill, will they develop at the rate or to the level they could have done if they had stayed put and not been tempted by the big named clubs in this league?

Looking again at Arsenal for the example, who are ahead of the game when bringing in young foreign talents, we can see that this is already taking place from just the past year or two.

Amaury Bischoff joined Arsenal when he was 21 from Werder Bremen but after making just 1 league appearance in his time with the club, was released. Vincent van den Berg left Holland when he was 17 to play for Arsenal but after three years and no appearances in the league, he was released. Rui Fonte joined the club from Sporting Lisbon when he was 16, was loaned out to Crystal Palace, then sent back to Portugal when he was 19.

With the homegrown rule in place, this could just happen more frequently, with more and more clubs getting in on the act. Whilst United have more than their fair share of British players coming through, we also have young foreign players like the da Silvas, Macheda, Petrucci etc. who we brought in to our Reserves with hopes of developing them for the first team.

I don’t think there’s a need for us to change what we’re doing. We’ve always had a considerable proportion of our own academy players in the squad and when it comes to having English players, have totally outdone any other team that’s won the title any time recently, so there’s no need to change. This rule shouldn’t have an impact on us but whether it has the impact the Premier League is hoping to see is yet to be seen.




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