Time for Manchester United 'B' v Arsenal 'B' in the lower leagues?

Should the Premier League's top sides have 'B' teams in lower leagues of English football to help aid player development, and ultimately the national team?

The Premier League is known by many as the best League in the world. This would lead to the presumption that England shall produce the best players, no?

Well this has shown not to be the case as there seems to be a limited number of upcoming quality English youngsters. There are some good players coming through the ranks however the quantity of these players is nowhere near that of Spain’s or Germany’s youth teams. The question is why?

About 8 years ago when a team in the Championship got promoted to the Premier League generally speaking they had no chance of survival and would get relegated back to the Championship the following season.

However, that has changed and the difference in quality between the Premier League and the Championship is minimal. Swansea, Norwich and West Ham are a few teams out of many to have this success story and it shows that the quality of all divisions in England has gone up. But what hasn’t changed is the quantity of good English players and here is the reason.

In England when you go through the academy of a club and begin to play U19 and U21 football you continue to play against other clubs U19 and U21 teams, however there is no stepping stone to prepare you for the Premier League or Championship.

It means either you get promoted to the first team squad or hope to get loaned out provided there is a club that wants you. The youth league is nowhere near competitive enough to prepare the younger players for competitive football. That’s why clubs in England don’t take the risk with youngsters from the English youth system and instead buy players from abroad because it’s a safer option.

In Spain on the other hand you have the same youth system as England but with most clubs in Spain like Real Madrid and Barcelona you get a ‘B’ team.

This B team competes in the professional leagues and go through the same promotion and relegation process as other teams do in the Spanish Leagues.

What this does is provide a stepping stone for the youngsters to immediately play competitive football after the age of 21 when they come out the youth system and if they are good enough they can get promoted to the first team or get scouted by another team in La Liga or by teams in the lower divisions. This intermediate allows players who did average in the youth system to still get a chance to prove their talent in a better league.

The number of quality players that have gone through this system is unbelievable the like of Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Busquets and the list goes on. All these players spent time in the Barcelona B team learning their trade and adapting to the professional leagues.

This system the Spanish have is the reason why they have so many successful players and the reason why they are World Cup and European Champions.

So the solution for England is to allow top teams to have a reserve/B-Team in the professional divisions. Now the solution sounds simple, which it is, however it is hard to set up. But if it means that in 10 years down the line England are World Cup champions, then it’s worth it no?

image: © eschipul

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