Why I’m glad the English Clubs are out.
I guess there is going to be a fair amount of hand wringing in the press about the fact that noEnglish team is in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. In fact just glancing at my RSS feed confirms this. But you know what, I am glad, I really don’t care and in fact I think it is actually a really good thing.
Firstly I have always had a bit of an issue with this idea of the “divine right” of our “big four” to not only always qualify for the tournament but also to do well in it. A “dose of reality” is surely only a good thing.
Next I really don’t buy into the jingoistic we need to support English teams in Europe shebang. Why? I *hate* united, I hate them passionately and deeply; in many ways my principal allegiance in football is anti-united. So why would I support them when they play in Europe.
And I think we need to be really clear about this, all four of the English Teams in the CL richly deserved to be knocked out. Liverpool were awful in their group, Arsenal were demolished by the best club side in the world (and surely one of the contenders for the “all time” award), Chelsea were out fought and out thought by a team superior in every department over two legs.
And apart from the most dyed in the wool United fanatics can anyone say that Bayern didn’t deserve their result? I certainly would not, Bayern were great value over two legs.
I think it is certainly fair to say that our tops teams are relatively weaker than over the last couple of year. But for me this is a good thing. Whilst I enjoy watching European footy, I do so because of great teams playing each other. The truth is for me, as a neutral, Barcelona vs. Inter is every bit as much of an appealing prospect as Chelsea vs. Arsenal would have been, in fact probably more so.
And again as a neutral because of the relative weakness of our “big four” this years Premier League has probably been the most exciting one I can remember. Ups, downs, and the fact that with 5 games to go three different teams may well win the league, and a further 4 are properly in the reckoning to qualify for the champions league next year. Personally I will take an exhilarating domestic season over “our clubs” doing well in Europe every day of the week.
And I would invite you to compare and contrast our domestic season to that being “enjoyed” in La Liga. Where the “big two” dominance this season has made La Liga seem more like the SPL than in interesting and competitive league (I still love to watch Spanish Football though).
I also think rumours of the death of the EPL as a competitive force are greatly exaggerated. Firstly a big part of this has been financial, specifically the exchange rate between the euro and the pound. Whilst this may well continue (or even be exacerbated) there is also every possibility that the financial crisis in Greece, and the growing one in Portugal could make the Euro a much less attractive proposition.
Next I think there is likely to be some big spending, and some big stars heading the way of the Premier League this summer. Manchester City are clearly going to look to spend big and get some Marquee names. The indications are that Chelsea (whose owner Abramovich is apparently in a better fiscal position than in recent years) are going tospend big in a playing staff restructure this summer.
So I for one shall be celebrating seeing some of the top teams in Europe duke it out for the Champions League title this season even though no English Club will be amongst