Alex Ferguson recently said that the Premier League was “the best league in Europe” and the presence of an all English final in the Champions League possibly lends weight to that argument. Perhaps he is showing some bias as Manchester United are the most successful Premier League club, having won a record tenth Premier League title in sixteen years last weekend.
No one can doubt that the English Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, it is a global brand worth billions of pounds, pulling in more revenue than all of the others, but does that make it exciting?
The fans certainly seem to think so, because the grounds are nearly always full, cable and satellite subscriptions are always popular, and it is showing no signs of losing it's popularity despite the domination of the giants.
Only four teams have won the Premier League title since it was founded in 1992. In 16 completed seasons of the Premier League the only teams who have won it are Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Manchester United have never finished lower than 3rd.
Even Liverpool - who are still England's most successful club, have never won it since the old Division 1 was dissolved, although they have been a constant in the top 4. The Anfield side have been European Champions and won the UEFA Cup and FA Cup in that time, so why is it so hard to make that extra step forward to win the league?.
Whilst history did not begin in '92, Manchester United are now only 1 league title behind Liverpool's all time record of 18 championships.
Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan was recently quoted as saying the Premiership was “in danger of becoming one of the most boring in the world.” He was referring to the huge gulf between the top 4 and the rest of the league that was almost impossible to break into, because of the money that those top clubs generate. He was not entirely wrong even with the new super rich owners who are buying up English top flight clubs - the top four teams have been roughly the same since it's inception, with only Everton, Blackburn and Newcastle being the exceptions to the rule.
Everton manager David Moyes agreed with Keegan to some extent “In a lot of ways he is right, but I don’t want to believe it and I’m not going to accept it,” said Moyes. “I’m maybe a romantic, but hopefully it’s not all about money.”
So is the Premier League as exciting as it is made out to be, and why?
Perhaps it is because in spite of the domination of the bigger clubs, it always provides entertainment and drama. There are also mini leagues within the league for the Champions league qualifications and UEFA Cup spots. It is also just as exciting to know who will stay in the league as it is to know who will win it.
The league calendar is 38 matches, and yet for all the twist and turns in this season 2007-08 it came down to one final day. The title, Uefa Cup spots and two relegation places were all to be decided on that final day of the season last Sunday.
The season had gone like this: Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho early on, and looked well out of the race. Arsenal had lead the pack for most of the season, but then imploded when Eduardo was injured, Manchester United took the lead, and Chelsea came up from behind to get within touching distance of the title.
On the final day it all came down to a simple formula. Chelsea needed to win at home to Bolton, and for Manchester United to fail to win away at Wigan.
At 3 O clock on that final Sunday there was still everything to play for at the top and the bottom of the league, and in the places in between. Everton or Aston Villa could get the UEFA CUP spot. Any two of Fulham, Birmingham, Reading or Bolton could be relegated.
There was never a dull moment, (as it happened) a very exciting finale, as Manchester United retained the Premier League title when they won 2-0 at Wigan Athletic and Chelsea were held 1-1 at home by Bolton Wanderers. Congratulations to Manchester United, Everton and Fulham. Disappointment for Birmingham and Reading. Tears as well for their fans.
The Premier League is the best in the world? Discuss on the forums.
2007- 08 Summary.
Champions: Manchester United
Qualified for Champions League: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool
Qualified for UEFA Cup Everton, 2008 FA Cup Final winners Tottenham Hotspur,
Intertoto Cup Aston Villa
relegated : Reading, Birmingham City,Derby County