Hello, Coming Home Newcastle. I'm not an actual follower of the Magpies (Arsenal man), however, I saw this this video, where Gary Neville tries to explain why you guys have had a poor season. He argues that it's because there are so few English players actually getting playing time. Normally, he's a good analyst, but I had to call "rubbish" this time. I did some research on Wikipedia and this is the response that I came up with. I swear, I'm not trying to troll. I also understand that I am probably wrong with a number of statements. However, I really felt the need to show that this poor season didn't happen just because the squad isn't playing a lot of English players.
Dear Gary Neville,
Sorry, but you are wrong. The reason why Newcastle has been doing poorly is because, in the first half of the season, they were racked with injury problems. Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not list injuries, however, we can check how many times each player has played. Largely thanks to an extended run in the Europa League, Newcastle has played 51 games. Papiss Cissé is the only player to have played in at least 40 of them (43). Tim Krul has only 31 appearances, with 7 in European competition. The captain, Coloccini, has a grand total of 27 appearances. In fact, Newcastle have had 6 different captains so far this season. None of the four mentioned English players, all starters, reach 40 starts in all competitions and only 1 exceeds 35 (approximately 2/3). Perch has 36, Taylor-30, Simpson-25, Williamson-27. That means that the English player who made the most appearances still missed 3/10 of the games played. Hatem Ben Arfa hasn't even made it to 20 appearances (he's on 18). Mind you, these are appearances, not starts. Those will be even lower.
What makes this an even bigger deal is the fact that Newcastle didn't do a very good job building their squad for 50 + games at the start of the season. In the summer, they brought in 4 players that, together, cost the club £8,200,000. 21 players left the club for a gain of £5,000,000 mostly youth players. That's a loss of 3 million pounds, despite having 5 times as many players leaving. So, basically, they have very little depth in the form of youth players. It is also clear that there is not a whole lot of faith on these youngsters. Yet, because of injury, these players have to play (or depth players of perhaps a slightly better quality). And, thus, the team suffers.
So, it's December and the club is slipping down the table with an injury crisis. What does the team do? They buy £17,700,000 worth of talent in the form of 7 players. That's basically a whole new team (7/11, or 63% of the starting line up). None of these players came from the same team, so they are not used to each other. They are also not used to the 4 other players slotting in beside them. Oh, might I add that the manager hasn't exactly been very consistent with 1 formation? No wonder they aren't playing well as a team. This is why having capable youth players is important- they know the system. In addition, they will likely stick with the club long term. A lot of the players currently at the club won't. There's not enough playing time with the club out of European competition next year.
Now, in this video, the Invincibles era Arsenal were brought up. Arsenal's success has very little to do with the fact that they are bringing in England players. Any future success they have will have fairly little to do with the fact that their players are English. Arsenal succeeded because they had a squad full of young, fit, players. They played a total of 59 games, with 11 players playing at least 40 games, including a Thierry Henry with 50 games. This does not even include Dennis Bergkamp, who had 37 appearances. Edu was the 11th player, a player who appeared mostly as a substitute. So the reason why Arsenal were able to do so well was because they had a very fit squad, a healthy (and lucky) squad, and fully capable substitutes (6 additional players had at least 20 appearances). The reason why Arsenal now have so many English players is because they have had a youth movement (due to austerity forced by the deal to build Emirates Stadium without accumulating loans with huge interest). Thus, a number of extremely young players have either come through the academy or have joined the team while teenagers. They happen to be British. If you look at the academy now, there are a number of Spanish and Swiss players coming through. It clearly has nothing to do with identity as an English club.
So, let me recap. Newcastle starts off with not enough depth. Gets hit hard by injuries. Basically buys a new team. Quality on pitch suffers. Nothing to do with English players. Why are clubs that once were very heavy in foreign players picking up English players now? Because they are trying to get players from either their academy or other teams' academies and the players happen to be British.
Thank you for putting up with me. Good luck with the rest of your season. I genuinely hope you guys stay up.