I hope I’m proved wrong in this case, but this is a visualization that does what any great visualisation should: it lets you find your own story. In my case I’m convinced that England’s football woes lie in the fact that not only do foreigners squeeze the natural wellspring of talent in the domestic game, but that those English players that do thrive have so little experience of any other leagues—save a few games a season in European competitions—that they’re shorn of any real breadth to their play.
Here’s a chart that illustrates these two facts brilliantly. The first illustrates how many other countries’ squads have players in the English game (I don’t need to explain, but the squads competing are at the top and the country leagues are at the bottom):
And here’s the other way: what leagues the English team play in.
Yes, one. (Three in 2006, two in 2002.)
The graphic, by the way, comes from Brazil’s Estadão, and their data goes back to 1994. I don’t speak a word of Portuguese but it’s intuitive and telling. Good stuff. Now let’s hope I’m proved wrong and the English team somehow scrape through.