By Walter Broeckx
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.
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