English Football: Premier League Must Wake Up

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English Football: Premier League Must Wake Up
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Bilbao 'basque' in the glory after defeating United home and away

The manner in which both Manchester clubs, especially Manchester United, were dispatched out of Europe is the clearest sign yet that money isn’t everything.

While many will argue that the Europa League is second fiddle to the domestic title, the sides put out by Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini were worth a collective fortune in comparison to Athletic Bilbao’s all Basque eleven and Sporting Lisbon.

Of course, the likes of Bilbao’s Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente, as well as Lisbon’s Ricky Van Wolkswinkel and Matias Fernandez could all find themselves subject to expensive bids from precisely the sides they knocked out.

For now, however, their previous transfer prices or cost of development were mere peanuts in comparison to the lofty tags associated to English based players yet to even reach their peak.

It begs the question whether any Iberian chairman, all undoubtedly of an age to have marvelled at the on-field brilliance of Kenny Dalglish, would even think once about hiring him as manager given his recent expensive and rather ineffective transfer taste.

The Premier League’s elite, save Arsenal, spare no expense in replenishing their squads only to be belittled technique-wise in Europe by teams deemed fit for the shadows of continental giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

What makes the La Liga comparison most striking is that while Spain’s mega two are seen as superior, and rightly so, to England’s current finest, there was a theory that a combined league would at least see English sides occupy league positions three to eight.

Not anymore.  

While English sides remain ruthless in the tackle and aerial duel, Portugal and Spain remain equally ruthless in maintaining the magnetism between ball and grass.

Yes, the Premier League is trying to rectify this, but there are only so many Juan Matas and David Silvas that can be poached, and at hefty price tags too.

This is assuming, money aside, that players hold England as their preferred destination for club football.

Recalling an evergreen technician such as Paul Scholes is not an option for most clubs, even Manchester United once this season elapses.

Additionally, is there something to be said for the longstanding injuries of Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley, perhaps two of league’s best home grown ball players?

Maybe British sides are unwilling to accept such players.

It’s not yet a case of if you can’t beat them join them.

Instead, lunge in and remove them from the field completely...

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