Jeff Stelling
Football Presenter & Columnist

FA must act if England are to be world-beaters, says Stelling

Dyke: We need more English players

So what did you make of Greg Dyke's rallying cry?

'Onward and upward' is the message and it has made a few headlines but as FA Chairman could he have really said anything else?

"If we have a good few days and earn back-to-back wins against Moldova and then Ukraine, I suspect many people will think things look comparatively rosy again."

Jeff Stelling

Now the difficult part begins, namely taking concrete steps to introduce radical changes to our game that will help us to win the World Cup in the next decade.

There are many theories doing the rounds but it is action we need because if the talent pool runs dry we'll find it increasingly difficult to qualify for major competitions, let alone win them.

Passion

In last week's blog I wrote about the continuing influx of overseas players into the Premier League and the impact that can have on home-grown talent.

In the last four seasons the number of English and Home Nations players has gone up at only four Premier League clubs - Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton and Fulham - with the majority going in the other direction.

Dyke sets out his vision

Until a legal way of introducing a quota system that forces teams to pick English players is introduced, it's hard to see how that trend can be reversed.

Then there's the 'club v country' debate to consider, too. As a fan, would you understand it if your team couldn't select their best players to give England a better chance of performing on the international stage?

I suspect that more supporters might accept that notion if they thought it was a level playing field and that every club was adhering to such rules and regulations, but it would be a tough mind-set to break.

I understand what it means to have a passion for a club and, at times, comparative apathy towards England, but somehow we have to try to find a way to get clubs to blood their young England players and give them a decent run.

Perhaps it will almost have to be on a voluntary basis to start off with - it's not something that can be forced on clubs - but I suspect that's as likely as turkeys voting for Christmas!

I can't envisage any side saying 'we're going to play five English players aged under 21 every week'; that would just be a recipe for disaster.

Ideas

We mustn't kid ourselves and think we have a divine right to win things but we mustn't think that everything is all doom and gloom either.

Perhaps we aren't doing as badly as we think. Generally speaking, we usually qualify for major championships and we were unlucky to go out of the last Euros when we did.

Dyke's proposals come under scrutiny

If we have a good few days and earn back-to-back wins against Moldova and then Ukraine, I suspect many people will think things look comparatively rosy again.

I don't see any reason why we shouldn't beat Moldova and get a good result in Ukraine; should we qualify for the 2014 World Cup, then are we really doing that badly?

Dyke doesn't expect us to win in Brazil, which is fair enough. The question now is how is he going to change things for the better?

If you have any ideas, then have your say on the bottom of this blog...

Jeff's Gem of the Week

As tempting as it is, I'll steer clear of Hartlepool's 5-0 victory over Bradford in the ever-important Johnstone's Paint Trophy! The pick of last week's performances was Crawley's win at Peterborough. I saw Crawley in action when they played Wolves a couple of weeks ago and I was really, really impressed with them even though they lost. Under Richie Barker they get the ball down and play and they got their just rewards on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet in the process.