The Premier League slides down further and sinks down deeper. Soon escape from the pit will be impossible.

By Walter Broeckx

I have said it before that there is something wrong with English football and with the PL. I have written a few articles last year. You can find them here , there  and everywhere

Now the PL that is advertised as the best/strongest/richest/ league in the world is not that impressive when you look at it from a European perspective.

We now have done all the qualifying rounds for all the Champions League and the Europa League. And from the 8 PL teams that originally went in to any kind of European completion we already lost two.

West Ham United and Southampton. West Ham United sacrificed their European campaign in order to beat Arsenal and that went off well for them. But this shows that a PL team seemingly cannot beat a team from Rumania and do a match in the PL in the same week. West Ham lost to the, for me, previously unknown club Astra Giurgiu. A club that itself got eliminated the next round by AZ from Holland. Now there is no Rumanian club any more in the Europa league either so not really teams from a strong league and strong football country.

I don’t know the exact facts but West Ham probably has a budget as big as the whole Rumanian league put together. I might stand corrected on this if you have the numbers. But surely this shows that a PL is not that much above than an average team from Romania. With all respect.

Then we have Southampton. And I think I have seen someone writing in after the ‘Sack Wenger’ article saying that he would be sure that a manager like Koeman would do a much better job at Arsenal than Wenger.

Well this Koeman and his team Southampton have managed to be kicked out of the Europa League by Midtjylland from Denmark. With all respect to Danish football but Denmark is not really a big European super power and their league is not really world famous for competing for the top prizes year in year out. In fact there is only one Danish team left in Europe now.

And so two teams from the PL already out of the European competitions before they even really started.

Add to that the terrible record of PL teams in the CL we get a worrying picture.

Last year I wrote this:

If we go back and have a look at the last 10 seasons in the CL we can see that we had the following finals in order as they have been played starting from the season 2004-2005.

Liverpool – AC Milan
Barcelona – Arsenal
Ac Milan – Liverpool
Manchester United – Chelsea
Barcelona – Manchester United
Inter Milan – Bayern Munich
Barcelona – Manchester United
Chelsea – Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid – Atletico Madrid

So we see that in the first 5 years we (=PL)  had 6 teams out of 10 finalists. You could say that in those days English football ruled in Europe. We had complete dominance. The PL was the best.

But in the next 5 finals we only had 2 English teams in the CL final. Now how can the best league in the world (according to Scudamore and the media) go from 6 teams in 5 finals to 2 teams in 5 finals?

That really is a very bad return I think.

Let us look at the semi finals.

2004-2005: 2 teams in QF and 2 teams in SF and won the final
2005-2006: 1 team in QF – 1 team in SF and losing the final (I don’t need to remember this…)
2006-2007: 3 teams in QF – 3 teams in SF and losing the final
2007-2008: 4 teams in QF – 3 teams in SF and 2 PL teams in the final
2008-2009: 4 teams in QF – 3 teams in SF and losing the final
2009-2010: 2 teams in QF – 0 teams in SF and of course no PL in the final
2010-2011: 3 teams in QF – 1 team in SF and losing the final
2011-2012: 1 team in QF – 1 team in SF and winning the final
2012-2013: 0 teams in QF – 0 teams in SF and of course no PL in the final (2 teams in 1/8F)
2013-2014: 1 team in QF – 1 team in SF – no PL team in the final

And again in the 2014-2015 season we had NO clubs in the quarter finals once again from the PL. Those who survived the group stage (3 of them) all went out in the round of the last 16.

So how come a league that has all the money to burn in the world and that can outbid anyone (apart from Barcelona and Real Madrid maybe) in the world have such a bad record of late in European competitions?

I have pointed at the difference in refereeing that brings too many injuries to players in the PL because refs are too lenient in applying the laws of the game. And of course then this team has to adapt to the European refereeing standard, goes out and kicks and gets players send off or loses them on yellow cards.

Another reason I thought might be … the balls. And I am not talking about the quality of the ball. But the numbers of balls. Because in the CL as in most top leagues like the Bundesliga they play with multiple balls. That means that when the ball goes out the ball boy just throws a new ball and the match can go on. Where as in the PL the ball has to brought back first and lots of time is lost. Certainly when teams use this in a way to really cheat and win time in order to get a point or sneak a win. I think anyone who has visited the Emirates has seen it happening.  [I don’t know if it came across on TV Walter, but most of the crowd was booing the Liverpool keeper in the second half for his grotesque time wasting.  Eventually even the ref had enough and gave him a yellow.]

But when PL teams go to Europe they find themselves suddenly faced without the chance to do the time wasting bit and the opposition is quicker to start the game again when the ball goes out.

I have called for PL referees finally to do their matches in the way they should but I also cannot understand why the PL is still in the dark middle ages when it comes to using more than one ball. Surely in the richest league in the world, with top teams that are amongst the richest in the world of football the cost of using 10 or 15 extra balls in a match cannot be a problem?

But for those who want to bury their heads in the sand and who still believe the PL is almighty and better than the rest…. time to wake up or get your head out of the sand and ask that those who have something to say about refereeing and using more than one ball do a job. Continue like you do and the PL is going from being looked upon as the best in Europe some 10 years ago to being the laughing stock in the rest of Europe.

The Anniversaries..

  • 28 August 1926: Chapman’s second season began with a 2-1 victory over Derby County with Buchan and Parker scoring in front of 32,990.
  • 28 August 1928: Some suggest the original Arsenal clock was installed on this date – but in fact it wasn’t.  It was in fact installed in 1930.    See here for the full story – but do read the corrections in the readers’ comments!

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26 Replies to “The Premier League slides down further and sinks down deeper. Soon escape from the pit will be impossible.”

  1. As I pointed out yesterday, our retention of 4 CL places is on a knife edge. We are now more or less level pegging with Germany and Italy (Spain way out ahead – overtook us several years ago) in terms of UEFA coefficients and only 2 of the 3 countries can retain 4 places. Fortunately, an Italian and German team drew each other in the qualifiers (the Germans got through). But can’t screw up this season – as entertaining as it is to see our domestic rivals embarrass themselves.

    West Ham and Southampton’s performances were pathetic. Believe Southampton played a 1st choice team last night too. Can sort of understand that West Ham have an overriding priority to remain in the PL – but Southampton have no excuse whatsoever.

  2. walter
    Epl is called the best league in the world not purely for footballing reasons.Tv money and its requirements has a huge part in it. Other leagues are just starting to fulfill some of the requirements. And in England thuggery has made the thugs so reliant on it that they have lost sense of positional play, hence pathetic defending on European games.

  3. Your opinion, whatever. But so many holes in this, it’s embarrassing. You can’t make a firm conclusion then say “I may stand corrected because I have no evidence”. Do the research or don’t say it.

    Question: Name a country with more CL finals appearances than England, in the years you quote, either overall, or the first years, or last years you quote.

    So, all in all, just rank bad writing. But hey, you scored £0.0000001 p from the click, so go you. Sheesh.

  4. Multiball would make a huge difference to the presentation of the EPL and would, at a stroke, give fans improved value for money. It would also reduce cheating based on time wasting.

  5. SammyNelson
    Seems common sense isn’t your thing. Walter said the EPL ruled the world in the first 6 years of the period he’s covered (last 11 yrs). Yet you then go and ask him to name any country that did better than England in that period??!! The next 5 years clearly English dominance is on the wane, and Germany has had 4 finalists in that time. Spain is 2nd with 3…. So what exactly is your point.

  6. Being in Europa League for PL clubs is more of a hindrance than blessing.
    The winner of the competition, which would be a tall order to achieve for a club like WHam or even Southampton, which was picked by many analysts to get relegated last season, receives only around £11M , which is slightly less than what both clubs received from the PL facility fee for the last season.

    Taking under consideration that both clubs get £ 1,236,083 as a starting point and additional increase of same amount for each position in the league tables from merit money, it’s conceivable to see why they would want to concentrate on the PL alone.

    A club like West Ham United can finish 8th in the PL league and earn more money From the merit pool, than if they finished 17th and won the Europa League the same season. And then there’s is of course the possibility of committing too much resources to Europe and getting relegated, which then would cost them the ultimate PL price – the TV rights share of £ 54M.

    And finally , if West Ham and Southampton are such underachievers then how come the last two results against them were 0:2 by our own overachieving Arsenal 🙂

  7. Pete
    Southampton are a club in transition. Last year they clearly overachieved In the league , after most analysts picked them to be in the relegation fight .

    They lost half of their starters and the manager to the PL rivals and they continue to lose their best players.

    Like I stated above Europa League just isn’t the priority for them.

    It would be refreshing though to see this sort of strong and unequivocal language when assessing our own club’s performance, like the one against Monaco at home for example, instead of the lame ” bad day at the office” usual routine from some regulars on here.

  8. Tom

    Very well perceived. And the last paragraph of your latter post sums up my thoughts perfectly. The “bad day at the office” -card is being played every time any other excuses run dry. Why give up when a deep analysis is urgently required?

    To stay on the subject… It could be fascinating to see the consequences should “we” fall behind both Germany and Italy in UEFA country coefficients.

  9. even if wenger went out and got 3 world class players these next few days,it’s still naive of him to leave it this late because we dropped 5 points at home.your home form is your guide to how you will do in terms of a prem lge challenge.that now means the pressure when we play the likes of chelski,citeh,utd,spuds,swans,all games we failed to win at home last season become must win games.honestly thought we would have had at least another couple of top draw players in by now.why does wenger love this mad trolly dash for players is stupid,ignorant and naive of him.he complains how the window should be shut before the season starts and he’s the one going bargain hunting on the final day instead of pulling his finger out and getting players in earlier.we are already playing catch up to citeh and tomorrow is a must win game now.i pray to god that kos can make it.would like to see gabriel and kos play together in a run of games.gabriel still needs some strength conditioning for me because the prem lge hold no prisoners and you must be physical to fear is if we lose wenger will go out panick buying again.thank god it ends 6pm instead of us suffering till midnight.

  10. Tom – I do not accept your comment at all.

    I agree that last year Southampton had a terrible start – but then finished 7th. This summer I am not aware they have lost anyone other than Clyne (apologies if I have missed anyone) and have bought players. So a 7th place finish and not weakened over the summer. To lose to Midjylland is extraordinary. The only context in which I had heard of them was that the Brentford owner also owned them (I was doing some research in the course of my work). But I didn’t watch the games so can’t be absolutely sure the result was reflective of the performances – but do note that Southampton played a 1st team in the 2nd leg at least.

    In contrast, Monaco won their group with a superb defensive record. Arsenal finished 2nd – so, in theory, were predicted to lose this match.

    My view was that Arsenal were by far the better team over the two legs. Arsenal were exceptionally unlucky at home. The first – and game-changing – goal was an utter fluke. A 30 yard shot with a critical deflection (I know – I was sat right in line). We had 14 shots to Monaco’s 10 that night and it was one of those occasions when everything went wrong. Having said that we almost turned it round over there. I do accept that we were defensively naive in the 2nd half of the 1st leg, but other than that it just wasn’t to be. This happens in football!

    I am happy to hold my hand up when we have lost deservedly – even when we have won undeservedly (can think of two matches at Dortmund to fit the above criteria) – but Monaco wasn’t one of them.

  11. Dieter – you make the mistake of over-extrapolating from every adverse result. Every team has poor results, especially in the premier league. One defeat is not reason to throw everything up in the air and start again from scratch. Should Chelsea have fired Mourinho after the Man City result? Should Man City have fired Pellegrino after they lost to Arsenal last season (or Stoke at home for that matter)?

  12. Laen – you have lost all touch with reality. We do NOT have the resources to buy 3 world class players! As for last minute buys, this can be the time when top class players prices fall to an affordable level for us.

    I don’t know if you go to games – but how much more would you be prepared to pay for tickets to finance your advocated transfer behaviour? Three world class players would be £100mm+ in transfer fees alone – ignoring wages. That is an entire season’s ticket revenue. WE DO NOT HAVE THIS KIND OF MONEY!!!

    And I think Gabriel is quite strong enough. He is probably the most physical player in the squad. Why do you think he needs strength conditioning?

  13. Pete

    So you don’t accept my comment at all ? 🙂

    Can’t say I’m surprised. You say Southampton’s performance was pathetic and that they have no excuses. Then you proceed to admit that you didn’t watch their games, which begs the question on what basis you call their performance pathetic.

    Would it help if I told you they had a legal goal disallowed and a penalty not given at home? Probably not, heh?

    That only works when justifying Arsenal’s poor results, right?

    As for Southampton’s roster this season – yes it’s true they only lost Clyne to Liverpool but several other key players have had their heads turned by other PL clubs. Victor Wanyama, Sadio Mane and Jay Ridriguez have all been the subject of interest and admitted they would be willing to leave.
    How quickly we forget what that’s like , right?

    This of course on top of unprecedented exodus of players last season which makes the club’s situation less than ideal to say the least.

    To see Southampton’s results from last season as anything other than overachievment not likely to be repeated is quite naive.

    In any event , I really don’t care about Southampton and their plight but I find it highly amusing that we deny others the excuses we ourselves so eagerly trot out when Arsenal fail to get the desired result , excuses like ; there is no easy games in Europe, or refereeing decisions change games for example.

    Really amusing 🙂

  14. Gary Neville is obsessed by “Arsenal have become a “soft touch”.

    But when he says things like that, does he realize he is actually helping the players? 😉

  15. Today is the first step in answering that criticism. Arsène, the coaching staff and players are all staring down the barrels of a great “I told you so” the minute the title becomes impossible, followed by a media inquisition which will have Tomás de Torquemada glowing with approval. Defiance in the face of the media comes at a price and this may well be a far heavier millstone for Wenger to carry than a trophyless decade. It’s a spat that he can only win by delivering the title although the Champions League will suffice as a viable alternative. Indignation is all well and good but in this case, his opponent – the media generally – has a vindictiveness where only absolutes count.

  16. Florian:
    What you gonna do when it’s 6 matches then? Still relax? 🙂

    apo Armani:
    He probably does at that, he secretly has loved Arsenal all those years and still does and wants them to be better. 🙂

  17. Tom – OK, fair comment. But looking at the stats.

    In the game at Midj… Southampton had 62% possession and 12 shots, 5 on target – Mid had 11 and 2. In the game at home to Monaco Arsenal had 57% possession with 14 shots, 4 on target – Monaco had 10 shots, 7 on target. In both cases it seems that Arsenal and Southampton should have won but didn’t.

    The key point I think is that, on paper, Southampton should be far better than Mid whereas Arsenal should only be modestly better than Monaco. Southampton’s was a Europa League preliminary round whereas Arsenal’s was a CL Round of 16 match.

  18. With FFP now well and truly dead, the shackles are fully off and I expect more sugar daddies to buy into clubs across Europe and launder their money.
    Clubs like Monaco and PSG will be followed and it will become even harder.

    I think we are now entering the era where the gap between the big clubs funded by outside money and the rest will get so large that a European League is inevitable. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will even be in that league. If it happens over the next 2-3 years I think we will but over the course of teh next 4-5 years I expect we will fall further behind in the money stakes as more clubs below us currently secure sugar daddy funding and move past us financially – a la City, Chavski, PSG and Monaco. Unless we change our approach and move away from the ‘self sustaining model’, commendable as it is, we are in danger of dropping out of the top 16-20 clubs across Europe.

  19. @Laen

    You’re obviously not up with the concept of CREATING a team not buying one. If you want an example that isn’t Arsenal – and I say this through gritted teeth – how about the Manchester United team of Beckham, Giggs, Butt etc?

    The current Arsenal team is a great mix. It has young players who have come through the academy or been bought young and greatly improved at Arsenal. It also has older players, some renowned stars and some not, who were well suited to the Arsenal style of play and who have improved further and gelled into the team.

    This is a team whose team spirit has been specially mentioned by our latest top class recruit, Petr Cech, who played at another prominent team for many years.

  20. @Jayramfootball

    Though your last post was a tad doom and gloom its pessimism made me chuckle.

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