In 1992, the ‘Music and Showtime’ of the new Premier League, as opposed to the ‘mud and flob’ of the old First Division, was a welcome and exciting development.
Live matches, cheer-leaders, balloons and an overall Americanised approach to the league’s presentation was effective - and not forgetting, loads of money, does help.
However, within all the ‘razzmatazz’ of the launch, there was the one caviat that was stated repeatedly and has rung true; and that was that the influx of money and foreign players would ultimately limit the opportunities for English talent – harming the development of the national side.
Arsenal famously fielded a complete side, without an English player for the first time in the Premier League, and there was wailing and nashing of teeth heralding the end of English football.
Well, that did not happen, instead we have, arguably, the most competitive and difficult league to win in Europe. Not the prettiest or the most skilful – just the most difficult to win.
In addition, there is still a large British presence in the top teams, even if they are getting a bit long in the tooth.
Now there is one record that is held by the English players in the Premier League that is almost unabridged.
I say almost, because again, apart from the works of Alex Ferguson and his ilk, there is still a record held by the English players.
No team has won the Premier League without an English centre back – apart from when our Celtic cousins have intervened and messed up our stats.
Fergie won the title in 1998/99 and the following season with Johnsen, Berg and Stam playing most of the games at the back and when Blackburn won; it was Berg and Hendry (another Celt).
All the others have had an English centre-back playing most of the season, barring injury and suspension. We are covering Pallister, Bruce, Campbell, right through Terry and Ferdinand, to Lescott, with all those in between.
Now you may see a problem on the horizon with my theory.
I need Chelsea to come through and win the league, as they are the only team left with a chance of winning, with the required Englishmen, as in Terry and Cahill.
Brendan Rogers is not playing with English centre-backs, so if he wins the league with Liverpool, my theory takes another slap.
However, that would only prove me right; as Brendan is from Northern Ireland, so wherever his loyalties lie, he is a Celt – just like Fergie and Colin Hendry, which completes the circle.
So, we stand poised as to the outcome, but the fact remains; the Premier League winners still need the English - as long as we can oppress those pesky Celts.
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