Football FanCast columnist Tristan Mann feels that the air of predictability that seems to engulf the Premier
League year on year is mirrored in most European Leagues.
In an article in the Guardian this week, Paul Wilson urges people
that it is time to stop pretending that the Premier League is exciting. "The Premier League is as predictable as
ever, despite illusory signs of competitiveness before Christmas," he says.
Wilson may well have a point. Manchester United are seven points clear with a
game in hand, and with just ten games to play, are they really going to
surrender such a lead? It would seem not. As well as this it looks like the top
four will once again repeat itself, despite Aston Villa's attempts to upset the
balance of power. It could be argued the only really interesting thing left to
decide in the Premier League this season is who will go down. Conceivably any
of the teams currently in the bottom half of the league could face the drop.
This season looks set to follow the same pattern that has been set over the
last few, and while this has drawn criticism, possibly deserved, from many of
the games respected commentators, how different is our beloved Premier League
from the rest of Europe. Not very, I would suggest. A quick glance at the rest
of the continents leagues reveals that they may be suffering from as much
repetitiveness as England.
In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid have a considerable lead over Sevilla in
third place, and Barca are five points ahead of Real. No surprises there then.
Inter have a seemingly unassailable seven point lead in Italy, and in France,
true to form, Lyon are top, albeit only by a point. Paul Wilson said the
Premier League was too predictable, that may be true, but it is no different
from many other leagues in Europe. The big hitters are, in the large majority,
at the top where you would expect them to be.
The only real exception to this is in Germany, where an influx of money and
unpredictable results has thrown the Bundesliga wide open. Four points is all
that separates Hertha Berlin at the top, from Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim,
Wolfsburg and Hamburg. All of these teams have lost at least five games so far
this season, and with eleven matches to go, it would take a brave man to pick
out a winner at this stage.
German football is thriving at the minute. It has the highest average
attendance in Europe, the largest amount of money coming in from shirt
sponsors, and with Hoffenheim now being bankrolled by former player Dietmar
Hopp, a smaller club with new found wealth that can challenge the traditional
elite. Perhaps Manchester City should take some advice from the small club who
were in the fifth tier of German football in 2000.
So it seems if you want excitement,
upsets and unpredictability, don't bother with La Liga, or Serie A, the
Bundesliga has everything you need. But while Germany deserves all the plaudits
it's receiving for creating an exciting and refreshing league, that doesn't
mean that fans from other countries find their respective leagues any less
boring. Indeed simply because someone, Paul Wilson in this case, tells us that,
"There isn't anything nearly as absorbing
going on in the top third of the table," should we all just give up on the
Premier League and turn our attentions elsewhere? No. In leagues all around the
world there will always be a handful of teams who dominate proceedings season
upon season. While this may be perceived as ‘boring', it is the nature of
football. And although this may give journalists less to write about, I don't
think it is something that the majority of fans complain about. Just because
the league takes the same kind of course, will a fan enjoy his team's victory
on the weekend any less just because he knows they will probably end up around
mid-table come the end of the season? I don't think so.
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