The State of English Football Today

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Soccer

Soccer

The English Premier League is widely regarding as one of the most competitive leagues in world football. And yet, since it’s inception in 1993 only four teams have managed to win the title: Manchester United (12 times), Arsenal and Chelsea (3 times) and Blackburn Rovers (once).

Other teams have attempted to break this domination, usually with the help of some hefty foreign financial backing, including Liverpool, Tottenham and, most recently, Manchester City. As the form begins to settle down for the 2011/2012 season the old familiar faces are appearing at the top of the table and the rest will be left fighting for scraps or desperately trying to avoid relegation.

So where do we get this complacency about our league? Is it the influx of foreign players? Perhaps. But the novelty of watching the biggest names on the international stage plying their trade at Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford has surely worn off. The effects on our national team have been well documented with no sign of a trophy to add to our 1966 World Cup. Hopes of anything appearing in the trophy cabinet any time soon will have taken a dent with our recent scrambled qualification for Euro 2012 via a 2-2 draw in Montenegro and our “star player” sent off for a loutish kick that would have been better suited to a Sunday pub team.

What is perhaps more remarkable is the fact that the collective debt of those clubs fortunate enough to enjoy life in the Premiership is a staggering £3.3 billion. This is often blamed on ridiculous transfer fees and enormous wages needed to attract the biggest names from around the world. Chelsea smashed the record to prize Fernando Torres away from Liverpool for £50 million. Spurs and, possibly future England boss, Harry Redknapp bemoaned the huge amount of money being spent on players and then tried to force Chelsea to go to £40 million to buy Luka Modric. As good a player as he is…is he really worth £40 million? So why is nothing being done to put a stop to it?

The cream of the Premiership are forever boasting about their youth squads and yet the fill them up with youngsters snapped up from abroad. Every year they farm out these “promising youngsters” either on loan deals or to the lower divisions. As long as the Premiership continues to be run in the same way as the country, piling debt upon debt as if there is no tomorrow, then nothing will change.

We have already witnessed the decline of the League Cup into a reserve team competition. The F.A. Cup is heading in the same direction as the emphasis is put on the so-called “Champions League”. It is not a league, it is a cup which is dragged out by its qualifying pool stages before the knockout stages begin. The theory goes that our home-grown talent will benefit from playing with the best on the European stage. In reality it is a gravy train for the big boys. Our best young talent has to gain experience by watching from the substitutes bench and hoping to get 20 minutes during the qualifying stages.

So what became of the good old English game? Players ankle-deep in mud, hoofing it up to the big centre-forward. Well that still exists but is the reserve of the less-fortunate teams that get to compete against the super-rich. Every now and then they will use home advantage combined with a wet and windy British winter to stun their wealthier rivals and send them packing. However, when the points are added up at the end of the season the gulf in class is clear for all to see.

So is our Premier League the best club competition in the world or is it a sell-out of our national game to the television companies and a playground for wealthy investors? You will have to draw your own conclusions.

This is a guest post written by Harvey Mayson, Harvey is a writer for libertygames.co.uk a football tables specialist.

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Limp Losers or Gourmet Greats

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As you walk in to a fast food establishment you’re likely to be enticed by the alluring advertised images on the menu.  But in fact what you actually get in reality is a limp, flaccid imitation based on over ambitious promises and over-pricing.  In many ways the fast food industry reflects the story of many misjudged signings by Premier League clubs since its inception 1992. Only time will tell if mega-signings Fernando Torres and Roy Carroll will be limp losers or gourmet greats. Here are the five worst signings made in the history of the Premier League.

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Thomas Brolin

The former Swedish international was a complete and utter flop during his spell with Leeds. As a promising youngster, his superb goal sent England out of Euro 92. At the peak of his powers, Brolin was strong, graceful and technically gifted.  But Brolin’s powers ebbed away as quickly as he piled on the pounds as many wondered if he was in fact the long lost twin brother of golfer Jon Daly. However, despite the striker’s demise, Howard Wilkinson saw him as the perfect foil for the club’s top scorer Tony Yeboah, paying Parma £4.5 million for the Swedish striker’s services in 1995. In two years at Elland Road, Brolin made just 19 appearances.

Andriy Shevchenko

Before his ill-fated spell at Chelsea, Shevchenko had been one of the most feared strikers in European football.  Understandably, there was much hype over his £30million arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2006. However the Ukrainian found himself permanently on the bench behind Didier Drogba after consistently failing to find the back of the net. With just 14 goals in 51 appearances, Chelsea loaned Shevchenko back to Milan where he failed to hit the dizzying heights of his first spell with the Italian outfit. He made the move back to his first club Dynamo Kiev for just a fraction of his original transfer.

Juan Sebastian Veron

A player that have could quite easily have appeared  twice in this list, but to spare the Argentinian’s blushes,  his hapless spells with  Manchester United and Chelsea have been placed together. Veron completely failed to adjust to English football after a successful time plying his trade in Italy. In 2001 Manchester United acquired the services of the playmaker for a record fee of £28 million from Italian side Lazio. The midfielder clearly struggled to adapt to the pace of the English game, not being allowed  the time and space he was allowed in Serie A. However, this stop don’t Roman Abramovich from splashing out £15million for Veron’s services for Chelsea. The midfielder failed yet again to fulfil his potential and was farmed out on loan to Inter Milan in 2004, where he subsequently returned to form winning a Serie A title and two Italian Cups. Must be the British weather I guess.

Massimo Taibi

Sir Alex Ferguson identified the Italian as the ideal replacement for Peter Schmeichel, the omnipresent tracksuit bottoms should have caused Sir Alex to pause for thought. Manchester United splashed out £4.5million on Venezia journeyman Massimo Taibi. After earning rave reviews in Italy, Taibi’s spell was more like that of a raving madman. Taibi conceded two sloppy goals at Liverpool on his debut and one to Wimbledon the following week. And it didn’t end there. Southampton scored three at Old Trafford including a Matt Le Tissier shot that squeezed through Taibi’s legs, a shot so soft that it barely crossed the line. His agony continued, Chelsea smashed five past him at Stamford Bridge the following week. His Italian job was over a little more than a month after it began. Taibi rotted in the United reserves until Reggina took him on loan and then permanently signed him for £2.5million at the end of the season. Surely United’s worst keeper ever – in a competitive field featuring Mark Bosnich.

Ali Dia

Was he George Weah’s cousin? It’s highly unlikely. What is probable though is that Ai Dia was arguably the worst player in the history of the Premier League. Having failed a trial at Rotherham United, Dia was signed by Southampton manager Graeme Souness in 1996. Souness received a phone call purporting to be from former World Player of the Year George. In fact the call was from Dia’s agent, who falsely claimed his client was a Senegalese international and had played for Paris St Germain. Dia played just one game for the Saints, against Leeds United in November 1996. He came on for Matthew Le Tissier who was substituted after 32 minutes but hi performance was spectacularly below Premier League quality. It took Souness a whole 52 minutes to suss he’d been had. Dia was substituted and never played for Southampton again.

 

Aidan Donovan is a copywriter for Justeat that deal with a number of takeaways across the UK from Chinese Birmingham establishments to Pizza delivery

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