Sunday, December 02, 2007

When English Football Was Interesting (1)



Well,its December 2nd and guess which teams occupy the top four positions in the the Premiership? You've guessed it: Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool. How wonderfully exciting..... not.
To make up for the dreadful predictabilitity of today's top flight football, here's the start of a new weekly feature, reminding us of those pre-Premiership days when English football was still exciting. A time when teams like Ipswich and Southampton could win the FA Cup, Nottingham Forest could win the League and European Cup (twice) and QPR could get to within 15 minutes of winning the League title.
To start off, here's a classic from New Years Day 1992. Man Utd, the league leaders are at home to QPR. Given the enormous economic balance between the 'Big Four' and the rest that exists nowadays, matches like this simply can't happen today. And I'm sure there's even a few Man U fans out there who prefer things as they used to be.

1 comment:

Witch-king of Angmar said...

Neil, I saw this and your other post about how the Premiership has become all about the big four distributing the prizes among themselves. You are right of course, but money is not the only reason for that.

Take a look at the Spanish Primera Division. There is even more money around there and yes, it has it's usual suspects in Real Madrid and Barcelona but in this decade, in spite of all that there was always an emergence of a team not considrered either big-spending or a traditional powehouse. In 2000 Deportivo La Coruna won the league. Rafa Benitez took Valencia to two league titles in 2002 and 2004 beating Real's "Galacticos" in both cases. In 2003 Real Sociedad took star-studded Real Madrid right down to the wire in the title chase. And last year three teams, the usual Real Madrid and Barca, alongside Sevilla went down to the wire again. This season Villareal(who came within a Riquelme penalty away from playing in the Champions league final not so very long ago) is giving the usual suspects a run for their money, Espanyol is continuing it's progress plus Atletico Madrid is resurging.

Copa del Rey is showing even bigger diversity. In fact, Real and Barcelona are yet to score their first trophies in this competition in the 21st century. Enough said.

So what is the main reason for such a gap in quality in England? Simple, the average English player is tactically much weaker then the average Spanish one. Same goes for the managers of the average Premiership and Primera clubs. That is why small Spanish clubs offer not only much bigger resistance to the big boys but often manage to beat them even at Camp nou or Bernabeu.