Why No Premier League Teams Remaining In Champions League Is Not A Big Deal

Sports News - April 08, 2010

In the coming days there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the fact that the Premier League, for the first time in seven years, has no teams in the semi-final of the Champions League. Boo Hoo. Does anyone outside of the media really care?

There’s a staggering degree of hubris amongst the English media about the Premier League, frequently calling it the best in the world and the place where all the top players want to play.

It’s patently totally nonsense as evidenced by the fantastic array of talent on display in the last couple of weeks, not all of which has any desire to play in England. This attitude owes much to the little England mentality that still, even in this globalized world, exists. This has become so deluded in some quarters that this state of affairs shows a decline in the quality of English football. ‘England has no team in the semi-final’ was declared last night by radio and TV commentators as though it was a death in the family.

This is to totally ignore the fact that the clubs are largely owned by foreign nationals and staffed with foreign nationals – so are in almost no sense apart from geographical, English. They do not represent English football in anyway. They’re just located here. That’s where we are in 2010. These are not ‘our’ players by and large.

The whole best league in the world argument, like the best player in the world debate, is at best contentious and at worst meaningless. The Champions League, let it not be forgot, is cup football. It’s not a ‘league’ at all. The best sides do not always win cup games. It is more of a lottery than league football which rewards consistency.

So the fact that none of Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea won does not tell us any more about the qualities of those sides in relation to the rest of Europe than it did when they were filling three semi-final places. Cup football is a mercurial beast and you can win or lose on one slice of luck or misjudgment.

I don’t know why some want to clutch the Premier League to their chests and claim it proudly as the best. What do we the fans get out of that? Clearly, broadcasters etc get raised revenues if they can convince everyone that this is the primo product. But you know, I could care less if it’s the best or not and how could you measure such a claim anyway? It’s utterly specious.

It’s been a fantastic set of quarter-final matches and the lack of English success doesn’t diminish that in any way. There’s no need for navel gazing or wringing of English hands. Good sides get beaten by other good sides all the time in cup football. This year wasn’t the English clubs year, next year it might be different. One thing is clear, they were all, for most of each tie, outplayed by the teams from supposedly inferior leagues and that exposes the Premier League’s loudest cheerleaders as more than a little fraudulent.

15 thoughts on “Why No Premier League Teams Remaining In Champions League Is Not A Big Deal”

  1. It is all about bragging rights. For the last seven years, England had the right to claim to have the strongest league in Europe. This may still be the case, but now there are no strong evidence to support it. It is child play, but we all love to brag about our number one passion, that’s why they call us fans.

  2. One good thing about there being no Premier League teams in the Champions League is that it makes this Premier League title race even more important for either Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal to win. Each team will be putting every morsel of energy into winning it. Should be a brilliant finish.

    The Gaffer

  3. “One thing is clear, they were all, for most of each tie, outplayed by the teams from supposedly inferior leagues”

    To be fair, I think Man U comfortably outplayed Bayern yesterday until the sending off.

    So this article is claiming that the media is exaggerating the status of the EPL? My goodness me… I’m sure the Spanish & Italians do no such thing…

    Can I ask what’s WRONG with claiming the league you follow is the best? I mean what actual harm does it do? And by the way, “best” is subjective – it depends on what you like in a league – so we can all be right.

    1. man99utd, in case John doesn’t get a chance to read your comment, I wanted to reply. The loss of Man United will have a big impact on the TV ratings. The best case scenario for TV execs right now is Barcelona versus Bayern Munich in the final. But Inter Milan and Lyon both have an excellent chance of reaching the final, too.

      The Gaffer

  4. I agree that the idea that “the best players in the world want to play in the Premier League” is wrong. Clearly, some of the best in the world are all playing in Spain right now, with a sprinkling in Italy, France and Germany. And given the rough nature of the league, I think some of the best players in the world will want to avoid it for some time. You don’t see Barcelona or AC Milan players having their legs snapped routinely by tackles.

    But I do think there’s something to the “best league in the world” argument. Fact is, once you get past the top 2 in France or Germany, the quality takes a nosedive. In Spain and Italy, you could argue the top 4 are all quality, but again, they get much worse after that. I think the Premiership can argue that it’s top 8 are all solid, and it might even go a bit deeper.

    1. Fact is, once you get past the top 2 in France or Germany, the quality takes a nosedive.

      Actually, at this writing in France there are five teams within three points of first place. A sixth team is five points off the pace.

      1. For the first time in about 7 years. It’s a fantastic title race but such a shift doesn’t usually happen in one season. We’ll see how things hold up next season.

  5. In my opinion, it all comes down to luck of the draw. Had Arsenal played CSKA Moscow and Inter played Barcelona, then Arsenal would have been in the semi’s. If Man Utd played one of the two french teams I believe they would have advanced as well. I’m not saying that the EPL is the best in the world, but there could have just as easily been two EPL teams in the semi’s and all this talk would be thrown out. The EPL teams got a tough draw. But the media will do what it does best, stir up controversy.

    I do agree though that it is ridiculous to claim which league is the best. Great players are all over the world, thats what makes the Champions League awesome to watch.

  6. Absolutely spot on. The whole ‘best league’, ‘best player’ debate is normally skewed by local tastes as people choose to either overrate someone by adding up all the good things they see each week (Rooney) but underrate others as they focus on the negatives they see each week.

    I am not suggesting that the EPL is not the ‘best’ league but are you all certain that Everton would beat Fiorentina (who almost knocked out Bayern) or that Stoke would beat Athletico Madrid? Point being, all leagues have some depth (Sporting are 4th in Portugal and they handily beat Everton) and its almost impossible to compare with any authority. Its a fun debate but the certainty the British press and sections of fans defend English football is a bit over the top.

  7. Not that I don’t agree with the core of this article, but I can’t help but wonder if the thoughts would have been the same, had both english teams made it to the semi-finals.

    1. United and Arsenal going out seemed to be all he needed to being his “The EPL isn’t that good, why don’t people shut up about it?” whine session.

      Clearly he wouldn’t have anything to say it otherwise. I just find it funny that the answer to the question of “Why is the dearth of EPL teams in the CL not such a big deal?” is, “Because the EPL isn’t that good anyway you silly EPL fanboys…”

  8. Gaffer, Man99uted, you raise good points. I’d be curious to see ratings for past finals such as Porto-Monaco, Milan-Juve, Bayern-Valencia, or even going back further to finals like red star-marseille and year-by-year ratings in general.

  9. The ‘Big Four’ have been at their weakest this season in years (look at the amount of losses and poor results domestically) and the signs were there last season, and so it has been proved against Europe’s best sides in the Champions League. The Premier League has lost a number of their best players overseas and haven’t been able to bring in the cream of Europe’s best players either. Are people really surprised that Liverpool got knocked out when you actually watch how bad they have been this season? Inter beat Chelsea, surprised? The best side in club football and defending European champions, Barcelona, beat a young Arsenal side with injuries and suspensions even though the Catalans were missing a number of their own? And Germany’s most successful club who have won more European Cups / CL titles than Man Utd came out on top against an average (comparatively speaking) Ferguson-made squad whose talisman was injured…so its not a big deal, it was on the cards and I’m glad I don’t have to hear Martin Tyler and Andy Gray going on about “the Premier League, the GREATEST league in the world” TM !!!

    Bayern/Lyon…Inter/Barca – bring it on.

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