Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fergie and Wenger: Pirates Who Must Be Stopped

Sporting Clube de Portugal, affectionately Anglicized as Sporting Lisbon, has in recent years morphed into a farm club for Manchester United. Sporting's academy is probably the best in Europe producing over the years in no particular order Paolo Futre, Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Simao Sabrosa, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso and a host of others. Ronaldo and Nani are the shiniest spokes on that wheel and they're going to carry United likely to another Premiership title and deep into the Champions League.

Carlos Queiroz, former Sporting and Portugal coach, sits at the right hand of Sir Alex Ferguson and is the direct link to the academy and forged the relationship between the two clubs, which has paid off handsomely in cash and resources for Sporting, and championships, glory and fortune for United.

UEFA kingpin Michel Platini, however, says enough. He chastised Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for their pillaging of these smaller clubs and wants it to end. Platini says the development of youth players in England, for example, is floundering because resources are driven elsewhere. There's talk of a cap on international players in England and Steven Gerrard has given his tacit OK on that.

Platini says: "I am totally against this philosophy. I like (Sir Alex) Ferguson, I like Arsene Wenger - they're good friends of mine - but don't like the system to pick the best players from all the youth categories in all the countries. It's difficult for those countries.

Soccernet says: Platini believes players need to be nurtured in their country of origin until they turn 20 or 21 and pointed out that in England there are regulations preventing clubs poaching young players from each other. He said: "I want to protect the people of 14 years old, 15 years old."

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