Departing FA chairman says 'we are desperate to increase the pool of real quality players' available to England
David Bernstein admits that England are playing catch-up before 2014 World Cup
Departing Football Association chairman David Bernstein has identified increasing the number of English players at Roy Hodgson's disposal as the most critical task facing his successor Greg Dyke when he takes over the role next month.
Bernstein, 70, was obliged to step down after the FA council refused to change the rules enforcing an age-limit upon the chairman and yesterday's game against Brazil was his last in charge of the organisation. In a briefing yesterday he said that England's position in relation to Brazil in terms of the native players in the Premier League was one of serious concern.
Bernstein said: "On the wider of issue of club and country, the number of English players in the Premier League and the Football League is a really important matter. We have this number of around 30 per cent [English players in the Premier league and in Germany it is more than 50 per cent [German players in the Bundesliga] and that 20 per cent is a lot of players.
"We desperately need to increase the pool of real quality players that the manager Roy Hodgson has to choose from. That I think is the big issue. All the work we are doing such as in youth development is aimed at doing that over the next few years and it's great to see some very good players coming through now such as Jack Wilshere. There are some coming through but we need many more."
Unfortunately for the FA, they have no direct input into the development of young players on a day-to-day basis with none resident at St George's Park and all the elite coaching in the hands of clubs and their academies. The trend of clubs signing foreign players to their academies is a particular problem which threatens the long-term progress of the national team.
Bernstein said that he believed that the England team could qualify under Roy Hodgson in their remaining four World Cup qualifiers in September and October. He said: "I want to compliment the whole Club England set-up. The spirit engendered by Roy has been absolutely excellent.
The relationship between the chairman and the manager in any football club or organisation is important and you are right we do get on very well. There is a chemistry there. I think things are in really good shape. I am confident that we will move on, get the results and qualify for the World Cup. I am sure that having played in the Maracana that the players will be desperate to get back here."
Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who scored England's equaliser last night, said: "You want to be able to close out the game so from that aspect it is disappointing. It was tough coming to a stadium like this, but 2-2 is not a bad result."
His father, Mark, played at the Maracana in 1984 but missed his son's goal because he was asleep. He said: "I didn't see it, I was dropping his mother off at the airport at 6am this morning so I fell asleep [while watching]. It was on tape so I'll watch it in a minute. I realised when his agent rang me up."
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