Recently there has been a growing feeling among some that the Premier League, as Sky call it ‘The greatest football league in the world’ has been losing some of it’s gloss, with big name players both British and foreign supposedly eyeing moves to sunnier, more exotic foreign climbs.
Most recently Gareth Bale’s supposed desire to relocate his brand of explosive football to Madrid, and Wayne Rooney’s desire to escape the rainy prison of Manchester. But is this just a modern trend? A flash in the pan that will play itself out within a month? Or is this the end of the Premier League’s European dominance of the past decade?
One need only look at English team’s recent paucity of success in Europe’s premier competition to see that there has been one of two key changes that have led to a shift in power throughout Europe. Either England’s European contingent have suffered from the breaking up of the traditional top four of the mid 2000s, or their foreign counterparts, in the form of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even the leading French clubs of Lyon and nouveau-riche Paris Saint Germain have vastly strengthened, with heavy spending and the exciting allure to incoming players that for some reason, rainy Manchester and London seem to lack.
In this season in particular, with last year’s top three clubs all changing manager over the summer, it stands to reason that English clubs will undergo a period of rebuilding, and will perhaps not be expecting great success in the Champion’s League this year. David Moyes will have his first attempt at a proper Champion’s League campaign (A knockout round loss to Villareal at Everton aside), José Mourinho will look to continue where he left off in 2007 at Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini will have his first season in charge of an English club, all of which may have a detrimental effect on their immediate on-field fortunes. But does this mean that the Premier League is on the slide? On the subject of managers, despite Pep Guardiola’s supposed snubbing of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, the Premier League has managed to attract one of the most effective and under-rated managers in Europe in Pellegrini and arguably the hottest property in football management in José Mourinho, all of which indicate that the Premier League’s allure remains.
On the subject of players themselves, this season has seen an influx in foreign talent into the Premier League once again, with several hot prospects making their way to England in search of success. Manchester City have gone with their manager’s recent success in Spain with the signings of Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, aswell as the quieter signing of Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina of Italy, striking a blow for the Premier League against their foreign counterparts. Manchester United however, have fared far worse in the transfer market thus far and, at time of writing, are yet to add to the underwhelming signing of Guillermo Varela from Penarol, having been gazumped to the signing of highly rated Thiago Alcantara by Bayern Munich and his former manager at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola. The failure of England’s most successful club in recent years surely indicates a noted decline in the attractiveness of the Premier League to these top European names, and with the rising wealth of clubs such as Paris Saint Germain and AS Monaco, even France’s Ligue 1, for the past few decades a league living in the shadow of it’s more affluent neighbours, is able to compete with and contend with Premier League clubs on the signings of big name players, evidenced by Monaco’s recent purchases of both Falcao (who Manchester United were strongly rumoured to be interested in) and James Rodriguez (who United’s chief scout in Portugal, Toninho Cruz was rumoured to have recommended to Ferguson on several occasions).
Does all of this mean then, that the Premier League may indeed be on the decline, unable to keep up with La Liga’s big two, or the increasingly popular Bundesliga duo of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund? Not neccesarily it seems, after all, which league has just signed a multi-million pound deal with American television giant NBC to show EVERY league game for the upcoming season? NBC’s advertising campaign features products baring the slogan “Every match. Every Team. Every Week. Yes, even West Brom vs Stoke”, but can you really imagine a similar slogan with “Yes, even Granada vs Celta Vigo” having quite the same ring to it? Although the lack of recent European success from English clubs in the Champion’s League (Chelsea’s shock 2011/12 win aside) indicates that The Premier League may indeed be struggling to keep up, it remains head and shoulders above all of it’s rivals in commercial power, and is marketed worldwide to a Global audience it’s rivals can only dream of. The Premier League, therefore seems destined to continue as Europe’s leading league for at least the near future.