Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, has expressed his fears for the future of the English game.
He told a Jewish Care business breakfast: “Good, young British footballers are a dying breed. We’re seeing more and more foreign players and foreign owners. Soon it will come to the point where every Premiership club has foreign players and owners. They come from a background where they are all winners but the only problem is that there can only be one winner.
“The standard of kids is not as strong as in the past as there are so many different things for them to do. In my day we only played football.
“We need to improve recruitment. There’s not a massive amount of talent around in this country but it’s still out there. Nothing gives you more pleasure than seeing them come right through the youth policy. They have real feelings for the club.”
After revealing that he earned £7 as a player at West Ham, Redknapp talked about football finances. “It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got. We’ve all got one thing in common: we love football. Players today work hard, train hard and look after themselves like never before.
“But I’ve told our fitness coach that it doesn’t matter if they eat white bread because if you can’t pass the ball then you’ve got no chance.”
Confident of guiding Spurs to a top four finish, he told the 230 guests in Chigwell: “We’re right in there and have got a great chance. Manchester City are the team to watch out for.”
He was full of praise about arch rivals Arsenal but believes that he has helped Spurs close the gap in terms of north London bragging rights. “We’re trying to turn it around but it’s not easy. They have an excellent youth set-up, a conveyor belt of young players coming through.
“The gap is closing. There’s not a million miles between the teams. I don’t think that there will be much of a gap at the end of the season.
“Arsenal can win the title. They are a very well run club and the manager has done a good job.”
As for England’s chance in South Africa this summer, Redknapp said: “We’ve got a great chance of winning the World Cup but after this group of players I’m not so sure that the future looks good.”
He talked down his chances of becoming the next England manager. “I enjoy training and being out there with the players every day. Being stuck in an office all day is not for me.
“If we don’t win the World Cup, I’m sure that Fabio Capello will get slaughtered. He’s about the only manager not to have suffered abuse.”
As for his recipe for success, Redknapp said: “If you’ve got good players and good character, you’ve got a chance. People respond more to being encouraged and told what they can do rather than what they can’t do.
“I’m sure my chairman Daniel Levy will tell me that I’m doing a good job one day.”