Football

Rio Ferdinand slams the quality of the Premier League

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On the whole, the reaction to Jamie Vardy breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's record by scoring in 11 games in a row were positive. Players, managers and pundits took to social or mainstream media to express their delight for a player who's risen from the seventh tier of English football.

Even Van Nistelrooy, the ex-record holder himself, graciously praised Vardy for his phenomenal achievement. So whilst everyone was pleased for the Leicester forward, Rio Ferdinand seemed to take the opportunity to condemn the standard of the Premier League. He wrote this on his Twitter:

This was after claims he made on BT Sport, where he said that the Premier League was the weakest it's been in 15 years.

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"The teams aren't as good as what they had been for the last 15 years," Ferdinand said from the green room of BT Sport studios in London, where he was analysing the Champions League.

"This year is the worst standard of Premier League football teams I've seen for a long time.

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"All the best players in the world don't play in the Premier League, for one. The second tier of the best players in world don't play in the Premier League. When has that ever been?"

So does Rio have a point?

Teams getting stronger at the bottom

Perhaps it's not a case of the Premier League declining in quality, more a case of the lesser teams greatly improving in the past few seasons. Jose Mourinho stated at the start of the season that there will be more instances of mid-table teams beating the title contenders.

He told BBC Sport: "There will be more times when the non-title contenders win matches against the title contenders," he said.

"It's also difficult because they have players who could play in our teams - [Yohan] Cabaye could play for Chelsea, [Georginio] Wijnaldum could play for Chelsea, [Max] Gradel could play for Chelsea.

"You have a minimum of five title contenders and the other teams get stronger and stronger."

Judging by the unpredictable results so far this season, Mourinho could be right. His Chelsea team have been beaten by Crystal Palace, Stoke and West Ham; Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal have also lost to lower placed teams.

Leicester's extraordinary rise to the top symbolises the current strength in depth throughout the Premier League - just because the teams with the most money aren't at the top doesn't mean it's a weak league.

Premier League's best teams weaker than La Liga

Where Ferdinand might have a point is at the top of the Premier League. Compare Manchester United and Leicester - the top of the table clash last weekend - to El Clasico the weekend before and the difference in quality is blatant. It speaks volumes that Alexis Sanchez is one of the Premier League's best players and he was cast off from Barcelona in the summer of 2014.

The Premier League's top teams' shortcomings have never been more evident than now - only Manchester City have advanced from the Champions League and they were blown away by Barca last year. Last season's champions, Chelsea, were meant to represent England's biggest threat last season, yet they were dispatched by a PSG side with ten men.

Is Rio right?

So it seems Rio may have had a point. The top players don't want to play in the Premier League at the moment, which is a strange thought for England's elite to consider. But whilst that may be the case, the rest of the league is slowly closing the gap on the rest. Does that make for a weak league?

Not necessarily, it just makes for a weak attempt in the Champions League by English clubs - a scenario which has unfolded for the past three seasons. So where Rio Ferdinand says the league is becoming weaker, maybe it would be more accurate to say that the top teams are becoming weaker. If you're a Leicester fan, however, it's the best thing to happen to the Premier League in years.

What do you think the main problems in the Premier League are this season? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Topics:
La Liga
Premier League
Rio Ferdinand
Football
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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