Comments on Manchester United’s latest recruit shows arrogance that’s harming English football

Josh Challies

There’s a wealth of arrogance surrounding English football in the modern era, with the Premier League perceived to be the ‘best in the world’ despite the struggles in European competitions and the national team consistently being overhyped.

It’s now been five years since an English side won the Champions League and the World Cup success in 1966 seems millennia ago, as comparisons can’t be made between football in that period to it’s modern day counterpart.

Whilst football as a game has evolved, though, the mindset of England fans hasn’t – and the issue is clear when pundits give their ‘expert opinion’ on new additions and transfer links – where anything less than appointing an English manager or signing an English player is blasphemy.

Comments from Sky Sports pairing Paul Merson and Phil Thompson went viral earlier this year when the pair slammed Hull City for their appointment of Marco Silva, who incidentally made a big impression in the Premier League and became one of the most coveted managers this transfer window.

Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams then made headlines recently when he criticised Arsenal for signing World Cup winner Mesut Ozil in 2013, suggesting injury-prone Jack Wilshere is of the same level, and now it’s the turn of Ray Wilkins to embarrass himself.

The ex-Red Devils midfielder questioned Manchester United’s decision to sign Benfica ace Victor Lindelof, with Jose Mourinho’s side agreeing a £30.5m deal over the weekend, as Wilkins declared Burnley’s Michael Keane would have been a better recruit.

Quoted by Goal, Wilkins said to Sky Sports:

“We’ve got young Keane has done exceptionally well at Burnley, we’re looking to bring him back at Manchester United for £28m, all of a sudden Lindelof is 30 [million]. Now, when we bring someone in from Europe, it always starts with a three.”

“This guy has done nothing. Absolutely nothing. Yet Keane has played a season exceptionally well in the Premier League, but we’re talking £25m. This guy’s coming in at £32m, £33m. Can he do it? We know Keane can, yet we’re prepared to spend…”

“It always starts with a three, or a four, or a five. No one gets anything cheap from Europe because it’s the Premier League.”

Funnily enough, Wilkins managed to make a number of ridiculous claims in one swift conversation. Let’s break it down; 1) English players are also overpriced, 2) Lindelof has achieved a lot more than Keane and 3) Keane also suffers from the overhype on English players.

Criticising Manchester United for spending around £30m on a proven international player is certainly questionable when Keane plies his trade for Burnley, yet to experience European involvement, and only made his England debut this year.

In terms of achievements Keane, who is two-years older than Lindelof, won his sole title in 2016 when he lifted the Championship with Burnley. The Swedish ace, meanwhile, won seven trophies with Benfica and won the U21 European Championship in 2015.

Finally, we’ll assess that fact that Keane isn’t as good as he’s made out to be. Sure, he’s a top-class defender with plenty of potential but he’s not quite Manchester United level – which is shown by the fact that the Red Devils already let him leave Old Trafford.

If England are to become the leaders in continental and international football than these blind statements need to be wiped out, as it’s highly likely Wilkins has never witnessed a ball kicked in Portugal – so he’s hardly an expert on Lindelof.

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