Greg Dyke may have expressed "disappointment" at the scarcity of English players in Manchester City's title-winning side but the Premier League champions are emerging as one of the key backers of Dyke's much-derided plan to introduce B teams to English football.
Patrick Vieira, City's Head of Elite Development, believes such a move is crucial if English players are to one day regularly compare with Europe's best. Vieira sees B teams as key to City's development of young players – most of whom are British according to the Frenchman – far more than the other significant proposal made by Dyke's Football Association commission of broadening the loan system.
There has been a sizeable backlash against the commission's proposals, especially among Football League clubs, while there has been a pronounced silence from the Premier League despite Dyke claiming the support of some leading clubs. Public backing from Vieira, a key figure in City's development plans, will be welcomed by the FA.
"You British guys are quite old-fashioned – history is really important but you have to change because the game is changing," said Vieira. "I think for the interests of football the objective is how you can help the England team to be better. So to give the manager a choice of selecting, not maybe 30 but 60 players, I think you have to look at the countries where they're producing a lot of players, Spain, Germany, and they have B teams.
"If they are doing it that means there's a reason. And in England they're not doing it because I think you guys are too much into your tradition, and I respect that. But I think things change and the times change and if you want to catch up with the other nations, you will have to create the B teams because that will have a massive influence on how to develop players."
Vieira amicably rejected Dyke's damning of the make-up of the City side that won the title last weekend.
"I just have to tell him that if he created B teams he will help us to develop more young talent," said Vieira, who will be part of ITV's World Cup coverage this summer. "When you look at the [Under-19] Champions League, the majority of the [City] players are English and from Manchester [Vieira said seven of the 11 that played in the quarter-final against Benfica were English]. I invite him to come to watch us play and he will see that we have talent, British talent, in our football club, and what we need is to give them the right challenges.
"We don't want to send our players on loan. We want to keep them with us, to give them the right education and the challenge that they need. When we send young players on loan, they are going to clubs where managers need to win games and the only focus is to win games. It's really difficult for them to develop because if they make one or two mistakes they are not going to play any more.
"In our football club making a mistake is part of the development. So we need the right challenges to help them develop. That's why I believe the B league will be a massive step up to improve the development of young players."
While Vieira's focus is on City's junior sides, he has also been hugely impressed with the impact Manuel Pellegrini has made in his first season with the senior side.
"It is the way he is as a person," said Vieira. "In a really small time everybody fell in love with him. He gives you his time, he shows you respect and he is a lovely man. Really humble, doesn't take anything for granted, he has been terrific for the club. All the pressure coming from outside, he always keeps his calm, never one note higher than the other, always on the same level, he's been fantastic."Reuse content