It will unnerve many at the top, but there is an incredible amount of weight to the idea that the Premier League is boring.
On the weekend, Manchester United took a step closer to sealing the league title with a win at Stoke. It’s been much of the same from what we’ve seen of this calendar year and certainly since the controversy surrounding the clash with Real Madrid. United won’t mind, I’m sure. They’re on their way to a 20th league title and all the glory that comes with it. But the bigger disappointment is that the face of English football is leading the way for a bland product.
Whatever jokes may come out of it, Manchester United and specifically Alex Ferguson have a huge say on the shaping of football in this country. This is a team who have beaten the very best who have challenged them, taken trebles, dramatic wins in the European Cup, and have never really felt their empire quake under the pressure of a new power. Yet unlike the football we’re offered in Germany and Spain and with their champions, United are sadly becoming just another team who struggle to keep the majority entertained.
[cat_link cat=”premiership” type=”list”]
And here’s the thing: this goes beyond United fans and whether they care about what everyone else thinks; I’m sure they don’t. It’s about a football league who markets itself as the very best, using words such as entertainment and drama in the sales pitch.
Drama, yes, but anyone with half a mind can tell that drama in sports isn’t just central to English football. Entertainment? Well I’m not so sure. It is football after all. Entertainment should come in the form of quality and technical proficiency, not who manages to bundle in two goals during injury time.
There’s a reason Barcelona are spoken so highly of, and even if this season has seen a swing in approach from the days with Pep Guardiola, you can’t ignore Lionel Messi and the wins over Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, among others.
Bayern Munich managed to establish a mammoth 20-point lead over Borussia Dortmund – a team who had dominated German football for the past two seasons. Bayern didn’t do it because everyone else was poor, but because they were ruthless and made excellent use of the strongest squad in Europe. The fact that they’re knocking on the door of the European Cup for a second consecutive year says a lot about their game.
Juventus went unbeaten and are marching on to another league title. It’s legitimate praise for champions around Europe that you struggle to find for the soon-to-be champions of England. Not to take everything away from United this season; efficiency and the mentality of champions does come into play. But it’s been a chore to sit through for far too long, and at some point this whole product in England has to be seriously challenged.
The thing is, it’s not just United that need some level of blame. Manchester City have struggled to build on their excellent play, with David Silva notably dropping off in the second half of last season, and Arsenal haven’t played ‘Arsenal’ football in a long time.
It isn’t something that can be immediately rectified by bringing in the most talented footballers or managers with expansive mind-sets, it’s the mentality in this country which seems to accept that whatever Hollywood feeds you is going to be good. Take away the sensationalised build up, the continued plugging of ‘best league in the world’ and even the sounds that come with English football and you’ll be left with something that isn’t too appealing.
It’s football and it should always be about that. But the product is dull and doesn’t capture you purely for football reasons.
United can celebrate all they want when they lift the title, and that’s fine. But when was the last time England could legitimately talk up one of their own in the way others in Europe do for their best teams? Football in this country has moved away from the joyous spectacle of fantastic football – even if only temporarily – and lesser, peripheral topics have had to compensate.
[opinion-widget opid=”206841″ width=”full”]