Controversial plans for Premier League ‘B’ teams continue

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A massive shake up in English soccer has been proposed by the Chairman of the Football Association Greg Dyke, as England aim to produce more homegrown talent.

The FA commission has released an 80-page report on how to develop more elite players for the English national team and top of the list of proposals is allowing Premier League sides to run ‘B’ teams in a competitive professional division. The report claims that young players would thrive from being in a competitive environment from an early age and has looked at the Spanish and German leagues who both have similar setups where reserve teams from the big clubs compete in the lower tiers of their soccer pyramid.

During the 2012-13 Premier League season only 32 percent of players were eligible to represent the English national team, as the number of foreign players in the PL continues to spiral out of control and many believe that will impact the elite pool of players England has to choose from in the future. The England commission was set up to try and help with this issue and consists of Roger Burden, Greg Clarke, Rio Ferdinand, Dario Gradi, Glenn Hoddle, Roy Hodgson, Ritchie Humphreys, Danny Mills and Howard Wilkinson.

This debate over B-teams has caused uproar across England over the past few days as prominent figures within the game have had their say on whether or not it will have the desired impact to help the fortunes of the national team in the future. Opinion remains divided as to whether this extreme step will actually benefit anyone. Many teams in the lower league are questioning the ‘sporting integrity’ of the proposal and others are stating the history of smaller teams from League One and League Two (the third and fourth tiers of English soccer) are being put in jeopardy.

source: Reuters
How can Roy Hodgson get more elite-level players to chose from for England?

Also in the report from the FA are proposals which aim to ban non-European Union players from playing outside of the top flight, having strategic loan partnerships with a feeder club set up and reducing the number of non-homegrown players in the PL. Several PL teams such as Stoke City, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur have already thrown their backing behind the plans but Dyke is likely to need at least 15 PL teams to back the notion, and then the Football League to okay the ideas when they meet in July, to put the plans into place. If successful, the new tier of English soccer with 10 PL B-team and 10 lower league sides will commence play from the 2016-17 campaign onwards.

Dyke has talked about drastic changes since taking up his role at the FA last year and this latest report on the state of the game suggests he and the members of his committee believe these steps are needed if the Three Lions are to elevate themselves amongst the world’s elite. Add into all of this that the Premier League chose not to be part of Dyke’s committee, due to their own U-23 league they are setting up and their own plans for Elite Player Development, and you have  avast concoction of ideas clashing at the elite level of soccer in England.

There are many different tactics which can be used to do that, however creating a whole new tier for Premier League B-teams has captured the headlines. The proposal states that B-teams will consist of players under the age of 23, they will not be allowed to advance past League One or allowed to enter the FA Cup or League Cup and the initial new tier would be set up in between the Conference (fifth tier) and League Two.

It is a novel idea that aims to help with the development of England’s most talented youngsters. Let’s sit back and see how this one plays out but why not try something different if the current model isn’t working?

Ballack acknowledges difficult decision ahead for John Terry

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For the better part of 19 years John Terry has been a staple of Chelsea’s backline.

[ WATCH: Zaha nets first international goal for Ivory Coast ]

With his future at Stamford Bridge becoming more and more in doubt though, it appears it’s time for the 36-year-old to move on from his longtime club, and that’s a decision that another former Chelsea player doesn’t envy.

[ MORE: Everton’s Coleman breaks leg on Ireland duty ]

Ex-Blues midfielder Michael Ballack knows that Terry has options, whether it be in Major League Soccer, the Chinese Super League or even with another Premier League club, but the German says it’s difficult because of what the centerback has meant to Chelsea.

“He is a player with that history and charisma,” Ballack, who spent four years with Chelsea during his playing days, told Sky Sports. “He’s such a Chelsea boy and they love him there.

“I know what it means if your career comes to an end and you’re getting older. You don’t know whether you extend your contract, play for another club or go abroad to America.

“I’m sure he has some options but if you think long-term, you have to feel comfortable with the decision.

For the first time in years, Terry has failed to establish himself as a first-team regular largely due to Antonio Conte‘s three-back system. The 36-year-old has appeared in just five PL matches this campaign, while making 10 appearances overall for the Blues, who currently sit atop England’s top flight and are in position to go for the double with the FA Cup semifinals lurking.

Terry himself has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end, but knowing the competitive drive that has made the Englishman great throughout his almost 20-year career, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll just give up his playing days without a fight.

Gabriel Jesus confident he’ll return for Man City this season

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Gabriel Jesus bursted onto the Manchester City scene upon arrival, but an injury back in February has left the talented Brazilian sidelined ever since.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty ]

The lively attacker suffered a broken metatarsal last month against Bournemouth, which required surgery, but the 19-year-old remains confident that he’ll be able to feature again this season for the Citizens.

“I don’t know, I have no return prediction,” Jesus told SporTV. “But I hope I can still play some games this season.”

Initial thoughts were that Jesus would miss around three months, all but ending his first Premier League season. Now, Jesus is hoping that he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to the devastating injury.

“It’s good,” Jesus said on his road to recovery. “Thank God, the effort, not just mine, but from all the physiotherapists in Manchester, doctors and everyone. It was not easy for me.

“It’s my first injury. Not muscle injury, but it’s the first time something happens that leaves me out of games. So it was not easy.

“But I saw that, of course, no one wants this to happen, but it could be worse. So we operated soon, I decided to operate and give it time.”

In just his first four matches with Pep Guardiola‘s side, the young Brazilian netted three goals and even dethroned Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup.

CONCACAF chief Montagliani seeks World Cup entry for all co-hosts

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A joint-bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is looking more and more possible, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani believes that if that does happen then all co-hosts should be granted a spot in the tournament.

[ MORE: Making sense of USMNT’s emphatic win over Honduras ]

With FIFA president Gianni Infantino looking to finalize World Cup expansion plans from 32 to 48 teams over the coming weeks, it seems as though Montagliani’s hopes could become a reality for CONCACAF and other regions planning on creating multi-nation bids.

“I don’t think we should be dictating how a confederation allocates their slots from a hosting standpoint. That’s up to them,” Montagliani said.

FIFA will conduct its next meeting on Thursday when Infantino and all six confederation presidents meet in Zurich, Switzerland to decide on World Cup expansion, which Infantino has been adamant about since taking the reigns of soccer’s governing body.

2026 could play an important role for the United States, as it is seen as a critical piece in a joint-bid with Mexico and Canada to host the World Cup.

Additionally, Montagliani has hopes of making a combined Copa America with North and South America a permanent fixture after recently holding discussions with South America’s FIFA vice president Alejandro Dominguez.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Friday night’s massive USMNT victory ]

However, one area that would be left uncertain is the future of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is currently held every two years.

“If that is the case and we get that done, then we have to have a serious look — is it really tenable to have a Gold Cup?” said Montagliani, whose FIFA stakeholders panel faces tough talks on adding and subtracting dates when clubs must release players on international dates.

“Do we really need it [the Gold Cup]?” he suggested. “Is it just clogging the calendar for the players?”

Lukaku coy on Everton future, says “decision has already been made”

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Romelu Lukaku has made it no secret that he hopes to play Champions League football, and reality may be setting in that the opportunity to do so won’t come at Everton.

[ MORE: Everton loses Coleman to leg break during Ireland match ]

While the Belgium international hasn’t dealt his hand in regards to his future at Goodison Park, it seems as though the Toffees could be losing out on keeping their star striker.

[ MORE: UEFA qualifying roundup — Wales in trouble, Buffon hits 1000 ]

Last month, agent Mino Raiola claimed that Lukaku’s deal with the English side was 99.9 percent complete, however, the 23-year-old has still yet to ink a new contract.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s UEFA World Cup qualifier against Greece, Lukaku says that his future plans are already made up.

“The decision has already been made so I can’t talk about that,” Lukaku said of his future at Everton.

The former Anderlecht standout has had nothing but success since joining Everton, first on loan and then making a permanent transfer from Chelsea in 2014. Over the combined stints, Lukaku has bagged 83 goals in all competitions for the Toffees, but the young attacker says there’s nothing wrong with having “ambition.”

“There is nothing wrong with ambition. You have to embrace it and where you are as a footballer,” Lukaku said. “I’ve made a long way until now but the road is still long and I know I have to improve and get better. I want to help Everton as much as I can, as well as the national team. I think a lot of stuff can be achieved.

“Sometimes people will mistake things that I say but it’s just ambition that I have; I want to win titles and trophies and I don’t think people should take that as arrogance — people should embrace it.

“This is what footballers need to achieve if they want to become the best, and I think young kids need to learn that too.”