Harry Winks and the state of our country


During the week, Harry Winks, from Hemel Hempstead, was selected to anchor our midfield away to Real Madrid. The team who had won 3 of the last 4 Champions Leagues. In the Bernabeau.

Surely I must be joking. Young lads from Hemel Hempstead can’t play football. That’s why English clubs have had to sign the likes of Jose Holebas, Joselu, Bakary Sako and Oumar Niasse. I mean, we need this world class imported talent.

Or so the state of our national top flight league would have you believe.

In 1984, Tottenham Hotspur won the Uefa Cup. 9 of the 11 who started that match were from Great Britain. The other two were Irish.

Don’t like the Uefa cup as an exhibit? In 1967, Manchester United won the European cup. 9 of the 11 who started were from Great Britain. The other two were Irish.

Harry Winks is a ridiculously rare example of a potentially top class English footballer who is being given the opportunity to play at the highest level in England. That directly leads to the state of our England national team. I can’t stand watching England. I would like to watch it and enjoy it. But I can’t. The reason is that we have players who are average, playing for an average manager. But a top class reputation (for some reason), meaning that teams invite us to break them down, and put all the emphasis on us.

Against Madrid, Harry Winks was a bold and slightly surprising selection. Many though that Pochettino would go for Dier in midfield, and perhaps Sissoko. After all, he has played in the European Championship final.

Harry Winks was excellent. I am not going to go into the stats around pass completion and all that guff. If you watched the game, you will know that he was brave on the ball, he always looked to pass forward where he could, he cut out a lot of Madrid’s passes, and he generally was not overawed by the situation of playing up against Isco, Modric and Kroos.

We could, could, be looking at a top class player developing here. He does need to develop, as whilst he looks good, he currently isn’t accomplished yet in creating, tackling, scoring, or any other traits that will put him in the same league as top Premier League midfielders like De Bruyne, Hazard, Kante or Eriksen.

My main point is this.

Currently, Premier League teams have to include 8 “home grown” players in their squad of 25. Home grown means being at a Premier League team for 3 years before turning 21. So this also includes players like Bale, Sigurdsson and Fabregas.

Because Premier League managers can be sacked after 4 games these days, they cannot afford to take a risk on a young, ambitious midfielder from Hemel Hempstead. They have to pay 13 million pounds on a foreign import who they believe will be able to get them quick results (Oumar Niasse).

Unless there are changes, there will be fewer players to come through youth ranks, that fans can identify with, and who can represent England, and play in important elite-level club matches (Manchester United 2011 Champions League Final – 3 English Players).

My suggested changes:

  1. Incremental yearly increase of 1 homegrown player, until Premier League clubs need 15 homegrown players in their squad of 25, instead of 8.
  2. Managers cannot leave or be sacked outside of a transfer window, so they don’t have to be so focused on quick wins and can develop talent.

These things would help the England team, but more importantly develop players we as fans care about. Lets face it, I have a lot more affection for Harry Winks over Sissoko; every day of the week. Clubs would have to play and develop the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick Bamford.

These things probably won’t happen. So we are grateful as Spurs fans that we are developing excellent homegrown players that are performing at the highest level.

God bless our Argentinean manager.    

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  1. Agree almost 100%. Where I do disagree is – should you not also God Bless Daniel Levy? He has overseen the complete turnaround at Spurs, starting – as all solid building must – with the Foundation that is the Training Centre. One of the best in the world, and a big reason why we are developing so many players of our own; then there is the new stadium, enough said! We all love (still) Harry Redknapp, but Daniel Levy recognised that while he could do a fantastic job, but only go so far and not the full building from the bottom job that was required. The Chairman had the foresight and courage, to move on before finally finding Mauricio Pochetino and yes God Bless Him: the first person in my long experience as a Spurs fan, who can match up to Bill Nicholson in terms of tactical nouse, ability, strength of character, passion for the club and restore Tottenham to where we truly belong.

  2. I agree with you Cliff. There is a lot of negativity around Daniel Levy, and he can be very frustrating during the transfer window. I really feel we needed another player in midfield for squad depth. But if you look at where our club is now in comparison to when he took over, it is remarkable.


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