Everton's Win Over United Flies in the Face of Playoff System

Varun MathureContributor IFebruary 20, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20:  Dan Gosling (L) of Everton celebrates scoring his team's second goal with Landon Donovan during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on February 20, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Everton's win over Manchester United indicates that there is a lot of fight left in British owned clubs, and it is only a matter of time before they bridge the gap to the "Top Four".

Richard Scudamore, the Chief Executive of the Premier League, announced that the league was considering a proposal to have the teams finishing fourth to seventh tough it out in playoffs for entry to Europe's premier competition.

This plan was admonished by many of the top flight Premier League managers, and Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was one of its harshest critics. Rafa was quoted as saying: "If we now have the playoffs, we'll be playing until the end of the century."

Roberto Mancini, Rafa's rival for the fourth place this season, was also skeptical about the plan: "I do not like this idea... The players have so many games in one year." Other managers also voiced their concern regarding the system.

There were many around the country who felt that this idea may have a positive impact, as the rich clubs would no longer continue to thrive with the money from Champions League participation. Fans of mid-table teams were particularly delighted to hear about the playoffs, as the competition would eventually even out.

But after Everton's convincing triumph over Manchester United this afternoon, it seems folly to suggest that there needs to more competition in the Premier League. Everton's win was their third conquest of a major club in 10 days, as they beat Chelsea in the last round of games before defeating Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League.

People have argued time and again that the Premier League has become unbalanced because of foreign owners who have seemingly open cheque books to reinforce their squads. However, the progress of British owned clubs like Everton and Tottenham over the past few seasons indicates that this perceived gap is decreasing rapidly, if not bridged already.


A Tougher League

This has been one of the most intriguing seasons in recent memories with three teams battling it out for the title and four others for the Champions League spot. One of the key reasons for this closing of competition is the performance of the traditional mid-table sides.

A trip to Birmingham City would have been viewed as an ideal opportunity to earn three points a few seasons ago, but now teams need to be on their best form to come away with even a point. Birmingham have already held the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham to draws this season.

Everton for their part have been truly magnificent in the last two months and have only lost once in their last 12 games. After next week's trip to Tottenham, they have an "easy" set of fixtures till the close of the season. They may well contest for a fourth place finish yet.

Tottenham have themselves to blame for not having capitalized on the various opportunities this season to make fourth spot their own. Their inability to get past the so-called lesser teams is yet another testament to the ever-improving competition in the Premier League.

This year the top three have combined to drop 70 points in total with 11 rounds still to be played. If you compare this to last year when the top three dropped 83 points in the entire season, you can see the huge jump in competition already.

There is a great possibility that this year the "Top Four" will be shaken up and tomorrow's game between Manchester City and Liverpool will reveal a lot more about this. In such an environment the logic behind the playoff system needs to be questioned.