Jermaine Beckford: English football’s possible saviour
TO BEGIN I would like to point out that there are fewer footballers I dislike more than Jermaine Beckford.
He made his name playing for Leeds United, the main local rivals of my team, Huddersfield Town and I was at Elland Road last season when he reacted worse to being substituted against Southampton than any player I have seen.
But this season he has the opportunity to revolutionise the way Premier League sides recruit their players.
Beckford earned himself a summer transfer to Everton thanks to repeated seasons as possibly the most feared striker in League One.
An expired contract meant Beckford was available for free, allowing Everton boss David Moyes to sign him with relatively little risk.
But transfers from League One or even the Championship to the Premier League are not as frequent as they should be.
The oft-stated reason is that players from the lower divisions are overpriced.
Failures, such as David Nugent, Michael Chopra and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, have done little to help the plight of young English players trying to break into the Premier League.
It has become fashionable, thanks to Wilson Palacios, Lee Chung-Yong and the like, to sign players from obscure foreign leagues, but surely their apprenticeships are less relevant than those served in the Championship?
Everyone is more than happy for global superstars, such as Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres, to ply their trade in the Premier League.
No-one is even that begrudging of the meritocratic right to be here of lesser players, such as Martin Petrov, Brede Hangeland and Morten Gamst Pedersen.
But, for example, why did Wigan make Mauro Boselli their record signing this summer? Could they not have got Nicky Maynard from Bristol City? City could have signed Swindon’s Charlie Austin, Swindon could have brought in Adam Le Fondre from Rotherham and Wigan’s money would have filtered all down the pyramid.
One of the biggest success stories in last season’s Premier League was Birmingham City’s defence with Championship recruits Roger Johnson and Scott Dann at the heart of it, but defenders can be easily swept under the publicity carpet.
Beckford, playing in the most high-profile position and with Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar supplying his chances, has a chance to change all that.