3 managers to rival Villa boss’ “English opportunities” claims


Tim Sherwood’s 2015/16 sound bite catalogue got an early impressive entry after his Aston Villa side ruined Bournemouth’s first ever Premier League game with a late Rudy Gestede winner.

“No one has given more opportunities to English players than me,” said the manager that has bought five of his nine new recruits this summer from abroad and had six foreign players in his opening-day starting XI at Dean Court.

“I looked around and the English players were far too expensive,” the former Spurs man immediately contradicted. “The way the market was, these French boys we brought in were the value for money and had the level of experience playing competitive football in France.”

Although Sherwood is far more trusting of English talent than devoted foreign lover Jose Mourinho, his claim that he is the leading light in home-grown nurturing is a little farfetched.

Already after one weekend of the Premier League season three rival managers have shown themselves to be equally willing to hand young English players a chance:

Slaven Bilic – West Ham

The Hammers’ trip to Arsenal may have been their first top-flight of the season, but it was their seventh competitive outing of a campaign that started in early July.

In that time, the new manager Bilic has handed a number of chances to the club’s youth team – including teenagers Lewis Page and Kyle Knoyle in defence and 20-year-old striker Elliot Lee.

The standout selection, however, was 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford’s inclusion in the starting XI at the Emirates, where the holding midfielder shone in a surprise 2-0 win.

Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham

Sherwood may point to his time at White Hart Lane to further emphasise his point, but his successor in the north London dugout has arguably overtaken him in the youth stakes.

Harry Kane and Ryan Mason became first-team regulars for the Lilywhites under Pochettino last season, while it looks like youngsters such as Dele Alli, Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard will all have numerous chances to impress this term.

Eddie Howe – Bournemouth

Sherwood’s post-match claims look all the more outlandish when the starting XI he had just defeated is analysed.

Howe, who has stated he will keep faith with the bulk of the side that won him the Championship last term, fielded eight Englishmen in his side against Villa, with two more named on the bench.

The young tactician has also signed Tyrone Mings and Lee Tomlin during the summer transfer window.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.