PL decline seems to continue, media helps to keep our heads in the sand

By Walter Broeckx

In November 2014 I wrote a short series of articles to the effect that the PL was not that superior league that we all think it is. . They can be found here, there and everywhere  if you want to read them first.

I linked this to the year of 2009 with the appointment of Mike Riley. Because since then the numbers have gone even more down than before.  Here is the table from that article again so you don’t really have to go to that if you don’t want to.

2004-2005 PL TEAMS 2 2 1 1
2005-2006 PL TEAMS 1 1 1 0
2006-2007 PL TEAMS 3 3 1 0
2007-2008 PL TEAMS 4 3 2 1
2008-2009 PL TEAMS 4 3 1 0
TOTAL 14 12 6 2
AVERAGE 2.8 2.4 1.2 0.4
2009-2010 PL TEAMS 2 0 0 0
2010-2011 PL TEAMS 3 1 1 0
2011-2012 PL TEAMS 1 1 1 1
2012-2013 PL TEAMS 2 0 0 0
2013-2014 PL TEAMS 1 1 0 0
TOTAL 9 3 2 1
AVERAGE 1.8 0.6 0.4 0.2

So how is the situation this season?

First of all one team couldn’t qualify from the CL and could just save themselves in to the Europa League. That was Liverpool.

And although the return legs in the CL haven’t yet been played, if we take the first legs as decisive we would get to a situation where only 1 PL team will make it to the Quarter Finals. That would be Chelsea. And that would be the 4th consecutive year that only one PL makes it that far. A quick look at the table shows that we have known different times.

And if we look at the Europa League we see that from the 16 teams that are in there we only have 1 team from the PL in the draw today. That is Everton. Because last night Liverpool and Tottenham crashed out of it.

So the media bombard us each day with telling us that the PL is the richest, the best, the strongest, the most difficult, the hardest, the toughest, the…  (you get the picture by now I think) of them all. And yet from that best league we see that we not only hand just one winner in the last 5 years (a winner that has spend a lot of money to win it and more than any other winner has spend).

And to make matters worse we hardly had any teams in the later stages of the CL in the last 5 years. Last year the quarter finals was the last stop for a PL team.

Now isn’t that a rather poor record for what is called the best league in the world?

And how come the serious media keeps on repeating that “best league of the world” sentence without them saying: “now hold on a minute! Are we really the strongest league in the world? Do the facts back this (still) up? Or are we falling behind?”

No the media keeps on repeating that mantra. And we must accept blame also because we like to believe it and so we keep on believing it. If you can say my favourite team is one of the best teams in the best league, that surely rubs off on us, doesn’t it? You support a team from France? Poor you, that is a really poor league isn’t it? Cannot be compared to the PL at all. That is the message we are being fed by the media. And the one we like to believe. But the facts are showing a different picture.

The PL is not that all conquering best league in the world. Yes we have most of the money and we have some really good players but it sure doesn’t show itself  in the facts.

I just heard that the manager from Monaco had a very easy kind of peptalk before the match against Arsenal. He just showed them the English media before the match. Telling us how easy it would be for Arsenal (the PL team) to walk over Monaco. Those other leagues don’t stand a chance because we say that the PL is the best and so shall and will it be. So the Monaco players were really pumped up to prove those media experts wrong. And they did.

And what did we as fans do? Of course we believed the media. Of course we think the PL is the best. (Well not I as I have written about it before) And of course we just assume that Monaco will be a piece of cake that we will eat with no problem at all. But sometimes even a cake can be so dry it sticks in your throat and you can choke in it.

I have read so many times that we should have won against Monaco because they play in a league that is just poor compared to the PL. I think that is mostly said because we just believe(d) the media story of the Pl being better than the rest. I think the PL has been best. But no longer is. And this has been going on for many years. But as usual the media is still in the denial phase.  The PL must be the best because we say so.

But the wake up was hard. Not just for us Arsenal supporters. We were made to believe it would be a walk in the park by the media. And we bought it. We believed it. Other teams found it hilarious of course how we then got beaten (mostly even by ourselves but that is another story). But Monaco showed that they do know how to play the game in other countries also.

But this morning the awakening in English football should be a rude one. Because in the Europa League the English teams coming from the best league in the world also known as the PL also crashed out apart from one club.

By believing the media story we have had then tendency in believing that we should beat them with ease. Whatever foreign team that comes in front of a PL team it will be piece of cake apart from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona and maybe PSG. But all the rest are cannon fodder for the PL teams. Because that is what the media is telling us.

Looking at my table from the years before and at the current results in European football it looks that they have been feeding us lies. I have woken up a while ago. When will the rest? Oh and sorry to have shattered the dream.


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26 Replies to “PL decline seems to continue, media helps to keep our heads in the sand”

  1. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as you suggest Walter (and rarely do I disagree with you!).

    If we assume that Bayern, Real or similar have (at most) half a dozen tricky/hard games a season in their domestic leagues, that is not true of Premier League sides. I don’t for one minute suggest that we have the very best teams in Europe (which is ironic given how much some of them spend!) but I do think that we have far greater depth. On average our league probably has more top class players than Spain or Germany but they are spread across more teams.

    We also have to remember that the players in other countries are probably much better protected week in week out whilst (some) clubs over here see their players regularly kicked all over the pitch and conseqeuently comparatively less fit as the season wears on.

    Now I’m all for evidence rather than opinion so I’ve probably shot myself in the foot here. Your general concept that the mdeia are shite though, is indisputable. The evidence is all around us.

  2. Never underestimate the English football fans desire to believe the unbelievable. Just look at the drama that goes on every other summer (when we qualify)

  3. I agree that there is a case for saying that European leagues are less competitive than the Premier League. However the technical ability and skill levels shown by teams lower down the other major European leagues is far above that displayed by the teams at the lower end of the Premier league. Maybe the refereeing in the Premier league allows the teams from the lower end of the Premier to be more competitive (if that is the right word). Evidence for this can be witnessed each season by the length of Arsenal’s injury list.

  4. Walter, kindly review you table as the data seems wrong to me especially 2012 -2013.

    That said, the PL is not the best in terms of strength due to the number of PL clubs that have won or reached the latter stages of the UCL or Europa League. I do not know if it can be attributed to the intensity of the league or the number of matches the clubs play domestically (2 domestic cup competitions) or the lack of a winter break. All I can say at the moment is that the PL has more worldwide followership, intensity and less top 4 predictablilty than any other league due to the vast competition involved.

  5. All what you have said is true on the PL teams downward prowees in Europe’s elite leagues of Champions League and Europa League. In Arsenal case, I think the boss should totally concentrates his thoughts and actions on Arsenal and henceforths, stop any form of distractions such as making comment on Qatar 2022 World Cup debate which I think is political and not purely for football advocasy. We are now in a critical time of the season where we are vying for a 4th place finishing in the League table and are still hoping for a miraculous UCL 1/4 final qualification at Stade Louise II stadium at Monaco FC in France. And we will soon go to Old Traford in denfece of our FA Cup. Are all these 3 critical challeging issues not important enough to warrant the full concentration and thoughts of the boss?

  6. I have read so many comments over the internet before the match on how easy it would be. And after the match it was : how on earth is this possible?
    Well not for me. As I have seen the tendency over the years.
    If we take away the lucky fluke win from Chelsea (I think even Mike T will admit that it was a rather lucky night for Chelsea) it would have been 7 years without a trophy for PL teams in the CL.
    Not really the record of the best league in the world

  7. And with the taking over of the table something has gone wrong but it is now corrected. Sorry.

  8. By the way, I’m not saying that the PL is not a difficult league to win. But it is not superior to other leagues at all. Just different.
    So the feeling of superiority about the PL and their teams is completely false if you ask me.

  9. The EPL isn’t the best in the world, it is the most exciting to watch though. Until we actively encourage ‘football’ to be played, the EPL & English national team will always lag behind.
    Sadly the EPL brand is now to big, hence Scudamore wants more excitement per minute, so tells Riley to ‘let a few things go, to keep the game flowing. Never mind the workers safety, it’s all about the bottom line !
    Anyone seen Rollerball, with James Caan, when the rules where changed to suit the powers that be & TV companys, but to the detriment of the players

  10. @ Walter

    A wise man said you have to be in to win it and yes when we played BM no one expected us to win nor we’re we the better team but football is won by those that score the most goals in the game not those who hit the bar the most etc etc

    One of the major reasons we won was because no one, and that included BMunich, expected us to indeed they had a flag which said in effect their city, their ground, their trophy. they believed all they had to do was turn up.

    Your tie isn’t yet dead. ok the stats suggest you have a mountain to climb but if you go one up then who knows. However go one down then that’s it.

    I haven’t read enough about how the seedings will work next season in the CL but pot one will be made up of winners of the main leagues so watch this space

  11. Have to agree with this. The PL might be the most competitive but not nescessarily the best. And it demonstrates just how far we, Arsenal, have regressed in comparitive terms over the past decade

  12. @Walter
    It wasn’t just Chelsea who were fortunate to win it, Man U were very lucky against B Munich in 1999 and Liverpool were fortunate in 2005.

  13. Pathetic and disingenius article in the manchester grunt by the hack-dwarf Barney Ronay.

    What are the odds that he is aware that England have reached one torunament final since ’66.. at home at that..and that they went to the last WC becasue two of their best players out (Walcott and Chambo) because they were’nt protected by the officials? Can I get a punt at that down at Bet365 or do I have to go through the StokeRFC booking office?

    Looks like Hackett’s repeat of his initial comments didn’t go down so well with the Cosy Crew. 😉

  14. The PL is a technically poor league with little ambition or love of the game. The players are pampered mercenaries that really don’t care about results. Whilst the richest league, the PL is well behind the Spanish, German, Italian and French leagues in terms of quality and plain old decent football. Whilst the FA and media continue to perpetuate the corruption brought about by money and greed it will only get worse and it will take decades to recover. Its only now that the Italian league is recovering after the widespread corruption of the 80’s and 90’s when money was flowing through the league like water.

  15. its a tricky one when you take into cognizance the fact that premier league teams have the least rest among the other leagues in Europe. We also have a more competitive league based on the unpredictability. I don’t agree that we have the best players though.

  16. Nothing changes with the superiority complex of the English media , think back to the Hungarian experience in 1953 . We were far too good to be beaten by a bunch of foreigners . 6 -3 later we still didn’t learn our lesson and went over there for a 7 -1 beating to make sure.

  17. I will do my best to hold this article and this discussion in my mind!

    Because even though I am always very sceptical about what is in the media, I must have let my guard drop – so that I had not even registered till yesterday (i.e. after the match) that Monaco were not only the second richest team in France, but fourth in the French top division!

    So not likely to be a walkover, then.

  18. This league is regressing to the Stone Age, Jose dragging it kicking and screaming. I even think arsenal are torn between what wenger wants and what the powers that be allow to win

  19. Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea were very lucky to win their CL trophies against much superior and deserving opponents, Lady Luck smiled on them for a few minutes and they won. Arsenal lost to Barcelona by merit and never had those Lady Luck smiles. I begin to wonder whether there’s a background play in all this.

  20. The reason why PL is the best because it is the mantra repeated by the UK media, over and over again. They also have more games, more teams competing and the “best(at manipulating a game)” refs.

    AW makes the mistake, hell we all do, of thinking this team has breached that barrier, that barrier where they get into a sort of trance, by trance i mean super concentration on the game, the game they love, and just play it.

    We have seen it happen now and again, but they have not yet reached it continually.

    We saw it with the invincibles, they just played the game they loved. This does not mean they won every game, but the way they played the football is what is remembered, so together and spontaneously, like a well oiled machine.

    Our current team gets there some games, but it is then lost again, (due to a change in player?) the next. We’ll just have to have patience. There will probably be some replacements in summer.

    Concerning the “fluke” win of Chelsea? Well!!!

  21. To quote Arsene Wenger many moons ago in response to Alex Ferguson

    “Everyone thinks he has the most beautiful wife at home”

    Not true of course but you see the point im sure

  22. Its very interesting that the EPL teams cannot play / do well in the euro games. IMHO, its how we play on the island. I posted a few days ago, when at a under 8’s game the opponents went 2 goals down and the coach instructed the goalkeeper to hove it up. If you go at the games in the lower div, its a similar style. Big Sam when at Blackburn instructed his academy coaches to train the kids in the way the 1st team played. Ie long ball. This really sums it up, I was having a chat with my colleague who is a Liverpool pool fan. He said that he finds barca style very boring. He likes end to end stuff. Which most of fans want. Keeping the ball is boring while just hoofing the ball in the air is exciting. I remember in school, the boy who could kick the ball the highest, was the best player and made the captain.

  23. Brilliant article.

    I’ve lost count of the times I’ve put ‘Premier League’ and ‘Stone age’ in the same sentence !!

  24. One through twenty the EPL is the best league. Do any of you really believe the bottom dwellers in Spain, Germany, Italy or France could defeat the bottom three in the EPL? Perhaps we should have a Relegation League Championship to find out. In most of those countries the quality barely extends through the top four. Let’s get real. Having said this, I have no idea why English teams crash out of Europe so frequently. As Geoffrey Rush’s character says in “Shakespeare In Love” – ‘It’s a Mystery’.

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