Or The English Barclaycard Premiership, to give it its full name with income generating sponsor attached. The best and most exciting league in the world.
How many times have we heard it said? Time and time again we are told what a wonderful league it is. How wide open it is. How it is more exciting than any other league in the entire world.
Sadly the premiership is now…… dare I say it…… boring.
For years the Scottish Premier League has rightly been judged as a two horse race. But is the premiership any different?
Every season it’s the same thing. The winner of the matches between Arsenal & Manchester United will win the league, the previous two seasons promoted clubs and West Ham will fight against relegation, previous big names such as Liverpool, Spurs & Everton will put half a dozen results together to excite their fans but ultimately end up in midtable and a bigspending roughie (Chelsea, Leeds or Newcastle) will finish a distant 3rd.
European football is surely the best benchmark for the premierships clubs. It provides a true test – a true gauge – of how the clubs are faring away from their insular English world. Sadly Europe is where the premiership clubs have been found wanting. Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle, Liverpool, Blackburn, Leeds, Fulham, Ipswich (yes I know!) and Manchester United. That’s nine teams – nearly half the league – that have played in Europe this season. Only two managed to get as far as the quarterfinals of their respective cups where one – Liverpool – was clearly shown up as outclassed and the other – Man Utd – is, I suspect, about to be. Arsenal – super Arsenal – the champions & double winners – won only 4 of their 12 champions league matches. Judging by the ease with which they won last seasons championship, and the ease with which they are winning this seasons, it is hardly a recommendation of the standard of the premiership is it? Meanwhile Spain have three clubs in the last 8 of the champions league…. as do Italy, who have a fourth club in the semifinals of the UEFA Cup. Clearly there is a gulf between Serie A & La Liga and the Premiership. Even Portugal have two teams in the UEFA cup semifinals. Two more than England as well.
This season we had the sight of a Scottish team coming to England and not only beating their hosts, but destroying them. Celtic’s demolition of Liverpool at Anfield will long live in the memory of half of Glasgow, and most of the worlds neutrals. It was – for the premiership – an embarrassment. Not because Liverpool lost, but because they were shown up to be what the premiership represents…pretenders. This of course after Celtic had embarrassed Blackburn in an earlier round. The premiership should have taken notice then.
And excitement? Well on a goals per game ratio the premiership is behind Spain Germany & Italy at present.
Must admit though …the premierships marketing men appear to be in a class of their own. I wonder if they believe what they say?