On The Left Side

The Premier League is the best league in the world. We know this because that fella in the pub with the gravy stained England shirt and the half drunk pint of Carling tells us so. Every time we go to the bar.

This week however we yet again saw more Premier League teams fail to reach the quarter finals of Europe’s biggest cup competition. How is that so for the worlds self-proclaimed “Best League”. Leicester City also became the ONLY remaining English team with a chance of winning the Champions League. That feels a little like having Jeremy Corbyn as the UK’s representative at New York Fashion Week.

So, if the Premier League REALLY is the best league in the world then shouldn’t we do a little better on the world’s biggest stage? Maybe by, you know, getting to the semi-finals or something?

The truth is that the Premier League is FAR from the best league in the world. That’s just the very special way that the likes of Sky TV get us to part with hideous amounts to cash to watch the bloody thing. The Premier League is in fact the American Tourist of the world. Loudly shouting that things at home are much bigger and better not because they actually are bigger and better, but because they have more bells and whistles and flashing lights and obscene amounts of cash attached to them. The Premier League may be the flashiest, greatest marketed league in the world but the best in terms of quality? No, no, no, no… NO!

I can see how the deluded souls in the church of Saint Premier League shout and scream about the leagues’ quality of players but does that mean we get the best football? Deep pockets mean that the English top flight has never been short of star quality, and a glance at any major international competition will see the vast majority of squads made up of English based names. However these stars often fail to shine as brightly in Blighty as they do once they’ve used the giant TV audience as a swing board to one of Europes’ elite clubs. Abroad the world’s best players are allowed to “play football” without worrying who is picking up the big lump of a centre back at corners. Effort and energy are still important but tactical ability and vision are equally heralded meaning the on pitch product is often a more enticing affair. Don’t get me wrong the Premier League is still great but if La Liga is the Beautiful game then the Premier League is the less attractive sister heavily using SnapChat filters on her tinder account. Thrilling? Yes. Unpredictable? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. Best? No.

Here’s the thing. I have no idea why English football fails on the European stage or why any of that stuff makes a difference. I’ve heard many complaining about fixture congestion in the league and a lack of a winter break which could well have an effect. This is however, all part of what makes the Premier League such an attractive product. Will those elements ever change? No. Let’s not forget that the Premier League is a commercial product with TV rights worth around £6 billion a year. The Champions League is also a commercial product. They are in direct completion with each otehr. Asking one to change it’s format to suit another is like asking McDonalds to stop selling the McChicken Sandwich so KFC can get a look in. In other words, it’s never going to happen.

We need to face it. We can enjoy the seasons where Leicester City win the league and the close battles between the top and bottom teams but we do so on the proviso that we will NEVER be feared by the European elite in major competitions. Our failures in areas technical and tactical will always make our own competition competitive but will leave us short when competing on foreign shores.

I love the Premier League but “Best League In The World”? I think not.

For EVER MORE Funny Football stuff check out Jim’s weekly footy podcast On The Left Side. You can hear this week’s show here: