Manchester United supplies a large percentage of England’s World Cup squad at present and looks to do so for many years to come.
Currently, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are all candidates for a starting place in Roy Hodgson’s team.
In addition, with Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones out of the squad through personal choice and injury respectively, United’s influence is strongly felt when international weeks come by.
Rio may have scuppered his future chances with his less than convincing , some might say vengeful, reasons for withdrawing from the squad so soon after his declaration that he was keen to further his England career.
However, to have eight players from one team vying for England shirts is impressive.
Tottenham Hotspur can boast six in the current setup, but none can be considered an automatic choice in terms of a starting berth in Hodgson’s first-choice lineup.
If you consider that six of United’s eight are 27 years old or younger, the future looks bright for United’s domination when it comes to supplying their country with talent.
Add to that the forthcoming arrival of Wilfred Zaha from Crystal Palace, and the promise of up and coming tyros such as Nick Powell, Ben Amos and Joe Rothwell, and the Red Devils' international dynasty looks likely to continue for some time yet.
Is it a conscious decision on Sir Alex Ferguson’s part, or is it merely a coincidence that English players figure so strongly in United’s setup compared to their main rivals in the Premier League?
Certainly, United’s youth policy has been a resounding success for generations, and although a proportion of those players are scouted from other countries, a large percentage comprises homegrown talent.
Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are good examples of players climbing through the ranks at Old Trafford to reach the twin pinnacles of representing the first team and their country.
The “Busby Babes” legacy has lived on in United’s mindset and is an integral part of their ongoing philosophy.
Instant success through massive spending (a la their noisy neighbours) has never been an issue at Old Trafford.
Without suggesting they have been entirely frugal in the transfer market, they have bought wisely (with a few exceptions!) to supplement the homegrown talent and shrewd youth acquisitions. By implementing this policy, they have found a workable equilibrium that can be perpetuated.
The propensity to buy young players from the domestic leagues, which can often make more financial sense than scouting overseas for big-name players, is another factor which increases the number of English names on their books.
Looking at the current crop of England stars, Young, Smalling and Jones are relatively recent home purchases that have proven their worth and added to United’s England contingent.
Signing players from within these shores does not always involve English players of course, as the purchase of Robin van Persie exemplified, and potential champions need to be alert when top players become available.
Overseas purchases are vitally important as well. They add variety, different skills and often bring fresh ideas to the table.
It is all about balance, and that is where United hold the advantage over many of their competitors.
Without doubt, another issue is the settling-in period when players arrive at a new club. It was no surprise some overseas players take time to adjust to living in a strange Country.
Most recently, it was reported in the Daily Mail that David de Gea was unsettled in his early days in Manchester.
It has also been reported that Newcastle’s star defender, Fabricio Coloccini, is keen to leave the Magpies at the end of the season because he misses his homeland.
An inhospitable climate, an alien culture and homesickness can all hinder a player’s adjustment to their new place of work.
Conversely, it is not such a culture shock for an English player moving within the country, another benefit of having a high English contingent in your squad.
So, whilst there are considerable benefits having a mixed squad in terms of nationality, a high proportion of native players, whichever country you are referring to, is a great asset.
United can take enormous pride in the contribution it is making at present to the England cause.
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