At the start of this season, I was so excited for the start of the Premier League season, because that is where I felt football was home. That, for me, was the best league to watch because every game is amazing, and no one else in the world could compete with us. But over the course of the season, I seem to have lost the excitement I had before, and I haven’t really been able to be put my finger on it. How could the almighty English Premier League lose it’s drawing power and it’s incredible pull on the world wide audience?
For me, this weekend was where I realized “The Premier League isn’t what it used to be, is it?” simply because of the opening game of the weekend, which was also the biggest game of the weekend. Chelsea Vs. Arsenal. It is one of the biggest games between two of the most successful sides in the history of the Premier League, but the way that it was built up prior to the game, you would never have guessed it. It was all about Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, and their previous encounters. Why? Sure, it adds drama to the game, but surely this game didn’t need any drama? Chelsea were having a shocking start to the season, whilst Arsenal weren’t doing great themselves.
Two great teams, in need of a win, to put them back in touch with the top of the table. The game was poised to be a classic, but it was awful. I mean, boring, dull, lifeless, nothing was happening, until the end of the first half, where Diego Costa turned into this different being, and got Gabriel sent off.
The debate of whether or not Costa cheated is another story (he got someone sent off, meaning his team gained an unfair advantage, meaning he cheated. It was no different to diving) but the fact that someone got sent off for that was odd. Garth Crooks said that Mike Dean was the only one, who cared about getting anyone sent off for the incident, and whilst we can’t prove that, it certainly did something to the game. It ruined it. The biggest game of the weekend was ruined, and it summed up how English football is at the moment. One little moment can ruin a game.
It wasn’t until today when I was listening to TalkSport and had Stan Collymore pose the question “is the Premier League the best league in the world?” that I wondered whether the Premier League is the best? Each league has it’s own factors as to why I like it. I love Ligue 1 in France, and the Bundesliga, and Serie A, and La Liga, but my heart is in the Premier League.
Despite watching the BPL every week, I notice that in recent years, the excitement and performance levels have gone down. The last time I was truly hooked on the Premier League was when Liverpool nearly won the league, because it would have been something new and people love something new.
Even that ended in disappointment as Manchester City won, despite not being the best team. The Aguero goal to win them the league for the first time was magical, but that was the last magical moment. Ever since then, nothing has happened. Chelsea dominated last season, and the usual teams make the top 4. Uninspiring.
But away from domestic matters, most big clubs are judged on how well they do on the continent. In the Champions League last season, Liverpool were knocked out in the group stage, and Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City didn’t make it to the Quarter Finals. Many at the time pointed towards a slight blip in the performances.
Of course, I mean how else could that explain a poor showing from the greatest footballing nation in the universe? It wasn’t until this year though, that people finally had the thought that maybe, just maybe, English teams aren’t as advanced as other sides in Europe? We have been threatened with losing the 4th place Champions League spot in the Premier League, making the league suffer even further. Without that 4th spot, many teams will feel like they have nothing to play for.
Tottenham were 6 points off of 4th last season, but were 11 off of 3rd, meaning they needed 4 wins to get that position. Now, imagine if we lose 4th place. That makes 5th even more useless. That would also further monopolize the top of the league, and we could potentially see a decline like the Serie A.
Another thing that seems to be looked in the “best league in Europe” debate is the quality of the teams in the league. On any given day, West Ham and Stoke could probably beat Espanyol and Sporting Gijon, but could Chelsea and Arsenal beat Barcelona and Real Madrid? On paper, no, but people like to think they can. Many of the mid table sides could beat mid table sides in other leagues, but the bigger clubs couldn’t beat the other bigger clubs when it mattered. Technically, and mentally, we lack what other leagues have. Technically gifted players, who have come up the ranks to make a name for themselves. Years ago, you would have seen Manchester United or Liverpool have their very own Thomas Muller, but now both sides are resigned to buying younger talent from overseas for a lot of crazy money, and whether these signings pay off is soon to be seen, but it is outrageous.
It translates into the England national team too. England haven’t had a top tactical manager who knew how to work well with his players since Glenn Hoddle, and even when he talks his mind on Sky Sports and most recently BT Sport, you can see he understands how the game should be. The fact Ian Wright still calls him gaffer speaks volumes of how people respect him. He wont be the England manager, but I don’t see any harm in having Hoddle part of the set up at the FA. Maybe, it could be a long shot but, having footballers who understand the game could help our nation.
The fact of the matter is our league is behind Europe. Not the fact that certain teams could beat German Minnows, but the fact that if you compare the giants of each league (basically what the Champions League is) you will likely find that English teams will come out second best. For years, we have known that our national team has been lacking what other countries posses, but now it has transcended down to the clubs of England, and despite having billions of pounds being splashed around on talent, the mentality lingers. We cannot expect to be the best anymore, if we always get trumped in at least one category. So, what to take from this little rant? Hoddle for England!