Paul Parker

England’s failings exposed by FIFA XI

Paul Parker

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It was no surprise to see La Liga completely dominate FIFA's Team of the Year: the Spanish league has all the best individual talents in world football.

We all know there is a perpetual debate about which league is the best in the world, and many people are staunch supporters of the Premier League, but if you look at where all the biggest stars play, there is really only one conclusion.

It is still said that England has the best players but it just isn't true. The Premier League is a very good product and brand - that is what we are selling and people are buying it - but in terms of extreme talent, Spain has the biggest names on the planet.

You can hardly argue with any areas of FIFA's selection, which comprises: Casillas; Alves, Pique, Ramos, Marcelo; Xavi, Alonso, Iniesta; Messi, Falcao, Ronaldo.

There were no English players in the Team of the Year and there is an easy explanation for that: we don't have any players at the top level. It is sad to say, but if there was an English player in there we would probably be scratching our heads.

Some people like to kid themselves and use the phrase 'world class' liberally when talking about English players - Wayne Rooney for example - but they are not proving themselves regularly in the Champions League and on the international stage.

The only exception is Joe Hart - who I would have in the team ahead of Iker Casillas, as he has been quite poor for the past couple of years and Hart has proven himself as one of the best in the world - but in terms of outfield players there is no argument. Maybe Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole might have a shout, maybe not.

It is a sign of the times that none of our players can get anywhere near the world XI: the Golden Generation has gone stagnant.

The problem is that there is a dearth of young English players who are being exposed to first-team football. They need opportunities to shine alongside top players. We have to address this problem urgently and placing our faith in youth is the only way we are going to learn.

The Premier League has been declining for the past few years. Look at this season: you have seen bottom threatening top, Chelsea losing to QPR, Manchester United and Manchester City winning games 4-3, United leaking an incredible amount of goals. Look at how a club like Liverpool has declined. Why have Manchester City had such a poor season in Europe, along with Chelsea?

English clubs are no longer dominant and, to be brutally honest, if United do win the league it will be the worst Manchester United side to finish the season at the top of the table.

The technical level of La Liga is far higher: they play like they have slippers on their feet. They might not have the drive and the passion that you see in the Premier League, but these players could fit into any side in the world.

By contrast, most Premier League players would struggle not to look laboured in Spanish football. That's the big difference.

Spanish football is dominant at the moment but that is just life. Football goes in cycles and it is Spain's time to shine.

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