Jose Mourinho has decided to give himself the mantle of English football guardian. Against charges that the Premier League is overrated, he has stated in an interview with Rio Ferdinand that it is the competitiveness of English top flight football that makes it so special and the best.
He is absolutely right in what he says. Those who denigrate the Premier League do so on the basis of the lack of recent success for English teams in European competition and the perceived fact that the world’s top players are playing abroad. Both these allegations carry some truth but lack the weight their supporters think.
Only two Champions Leagues have passed since England’s last winners, Chelsea. The same club competed in the semi-finals last April as England produced the same number of semi-finalists as the Germans.
Yes, English success in the tournament has decreased and the German and Spanish leagues have produced their claims to European hegemony by giving us finals compromised of teams from their national leagues in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
However, there is not yet any reason to believe this pattern is definitive. Instead, it will be prove to be part of a cyclical pattern that will soon see renewed English success.
Big players still want Premier League moves
In regard to the other accusation that the best players do not play in the Premier League, there is again some truth. We have seen a small exodus of the best players over recent years. Ronaldo, Bale and Suarez have all jumped ship to Spain.
At the same time, it seems the players that come the other ways are unwanted cast offs. Fabregas and Sanchez, both undoubtedly quality players, were deemed surplus to requirements and moved because of this rather than because they were unable to resist the lure of Chelsea and Arsenal.
However, there are some qualifications to be made. While we have seen some of the league’s best players leave, there remain world class players deserving of the accolades we give to those in Spain and Germany. Vincent Kompany must be considered one the world’s best centre backs.
Chelsea has two of the best goalkeepers in world football in Cech and Courtois. This season, an injury free Sergio Aguero certainly has the potential join this band of players while Chelsea will hope Eden Hazard can kick on and make himself worthy.
The idea that the only players that come here are cast offs must also be questioned. Diego Costa was one of the most important players for the Spanish champions last year and certainly someone they would have wanted to keep if their finances allowed.
Thomas Vermaelen meanwhile was let go by Arsenal to join Barcelona because he was not making their first team and can therefore be considered a cast off going the other way.
Competitiveness of the Premier League
Having challenged the arguments of the ‘Premier League is overrated’ brigade, I want to emphasise the competitive nature of the Premier League that ensures it will continue to be the world’s most popular league.
Last year, Cardiff City, who would finish bottom of the league, beat eventual champions Manchester City on the first day of the season. Chelsea blew their chance at title glory because they were too consistently undone by bottom half teams, losing to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland in the title run in.
Liverpool lost their opportunity to compete with Manchester City on goal difference on the last day of the season because Crystal Palace came back from 3-0 down to draw the penultimate game of the season.
This kind of unpredictability simply does not occur in other leagues to anything like the same extent. Bayern Munich cantered away with the Bundesliga. While Spain produced surprise package Atletico, it still remained a case of the top teams steamrolling through the smaller teams.
This competitiveness combined with the holes in the arguments that look to highlight the Premier League’s weaknesses means it should still be considered the best in the world. We can look forward to another season in which five or six teams could realistically be crowned champions. You will not find that anywhere else.