Sunday, 30 November 2008

MOTD 2 MOTD 0 or why the Premier League needs a rethink

I watched both Saturday and Sunday night's Match Of The Days and amid the one-too-many action replays and so-what analysis, it dawned on me: what a load of bloody rubbish most of the Premier League is becoming!
And it was so apparent this week with none of the big four playing till Sunday.

Adrian Chiles' MOTD2 led with two of the most enticing fixtures of the season, Chelsea against Arsenal and the Manchester derby, Robinho v. Ronaldo. Neither disappointed. The brilliant van Persie put Blues to the sword in minutes, and Ronnie's Red Card for handballing a corner only builds his myth as one of football's great entertainers!

But Gary Lineker's Saturday Obligation hobbled on for hours starring Villa's latest goalless failure to break the top three by beating a London suburb and Boro and Newcastle's local difficulty so dull I doubt it'll even make their local backpages. As for Sunderland, Roy Keane looked as lost Mark Thatcher on a Matzo Ramble, making Bolton look far better than they are.

The falling standard below about sixth place is rather like watching an ageing fat man who can't keep his expanding waistline inside the straining belt of his trousers. In other words, the lean quality is concentrated more and more to the top of the league with gravity taking care of the flabby bits after years of neglect.

Clubs lower down are employing journeymen and have-a-go managers making a virtue of their also-ran incompetence - purely because it's badged as Premier League.

No wonder attendances are down. It's not just the recession. The entertainment's not worth the entrance fee.

We can all jump round the room lauding marvellous Hull City's Premier League sortees - but their draw at Stoke was a catalogue of route one, long throws, gamesmanship and a stadium full of Championship fans who know the party can't last.

It's crap and seasoned-watchers aren't fooled.

Once upon a time when money and power wasn't concentrated to the perennial Champions League qualifiers, the riches of the new league filtered through so that even Middlesbrough got to sign Ravanelli and Juninho, Shearer fulfilled his boyhood dream of playing for Newcastle and Fulham signed van der Sar.

None of that happens these days. The Premier League's summit is a protectionist racket - and the only thing that stops it from being a cartel is that the standard is so universally ordinary at the wrong end that even newly promoted clubs can stay up. In other words, anyone of the bottom eight could be relegated.

The Premier League came about after years of in-fighting and attempts at reorganization, and it worked spectacularly.

But now, it's in need of re-invigoration if it's to continue its progress:

1) Distribution of Champions League revenue would do the trick.
2) Personally, I think the 39th game would be brilliant for interest both here and worldwide
3) a draft system where the best European teenagers don't always end up at The Emirates.

A pro-active rethink is needed - otherwise the Premier League's star may fall.