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English Premier League

Is the Premier League what we have come to expect?

I’m an emotional guy. Which is understandable when you see that which you love falling to pieces and don’t know of any way to help remedy the situation. I don’t believe I am the only one who has felt the change in the winds nor who is desperate to see a change in the Premier League.

It is abundantly clear that English football’s top league is losing its allure that many brag about when around supporters of other leagues such as Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga. It used to be that the mere presence of European such giants as Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United was enough to end an argument over domestic superiority.

Now, however, you would be hard-pressed to close such a debate with the state English football is in. Anyone who would choose to look closely would soon realize that there has been a gradual deterioration in the quality of the competition.

The Barclays Premier League has been renowned in the 23 years of its existence for being ferocious and physically intense to the point of exhaustion. Many have questioned and pondered why this is so and it can be put down to many different factors.

It could be attributed to the aggressive and physical nature of English footballers and the demanding nature of the fans or the expectations that are heaped on the players requires standards of the highest order. Another factor could be that the players that are performing in such a prestigious league are being paid inordinate amounts of money to play football and when they don’t meet the standards asked of them, the backlash is immense and often volatile.

I think it is time to call into question the all-round quality that presently exists in the Premier League. First, I would like to mention the shockingly poor level at which the officiating is at. I don’t know why it has become so or how it has been allowed to reach a point where any 50/50 tackle in and around the box is more likely to go against you than for you. This lack of an acceptable standard of officiating has not gone unnoticed. Keith Hackett, the former referees head, has voiced his outrage at the situation.

Hackett singled out the incident involving Wayne Routledge where the Swans winger received a “stupid” red card.

“The latest big game decision error was the stupid dismissal of Wayne Routledge, who himself was on the receiving end of a reckless challenge,” he said. “It is unbelievable that a so-called top referee should make such a mistake. I see standards falling. Over the Christmas period, it reached standards that were bordering on appalling.”

Typically your more skillful players are likely to draw the most fouls and as teams like Chelsea are positively overloaded with skillful players, they are inevitably going to draw a large number of fouls within the penalty area. The amount of penalties not awarded to Chelsea prompted Jose Mourinho to claim that there was a conspiracy against Chelsea Football Club. Sorry Jose, they’re just poor referees. This is the bottom line: in a league which would claim to be the greatest in the world, such officiating surely cannot be tolerated.

For some, the next point I am going to make may not be quite as serious as I believe it to be, but since 2010 there has been an exponential increase in the amount of technically gifted players and a large decline in traditionally hard midfielders.

Instead of having an intimidating and physically adept midfield enforcer we have clever midfielders such as Cesc Fabregas. I’m not saying that there is no place for clever players, but due to the absence of these tough tackling midfielders there seems to be a lack of intensity in English football.

Very few teams choose to adopt high pressing systems, rather choosing to sit back and absorb pressure before breaking at speed and those who do press high up the field, don’t have the players who are willing to chase down the centre halves, as they would rather sit and wait for an opportunity.  This has detracted from the game as it is noticeably slower and less exciting.

I remember several years ago the FA Cup was something magnificent. It was every youngster’s dream to lift the cup in front of eighty thousand people. Every day in the neighborhood park was a FA Cup final at Wembley and every goal scored was the goal that clinched it for your boyhood town.

This magic, however, has long since disappeared and this prestigious tournament is nothing more than a fixture in which to rotate the squad until the latter stages are reached and it is deemed actually worthwhile. Gone are the days when players sought to replicate moments such as Steven Gerrard’s heroics in the 2006 edition against West Ham. This magic has been extinguished. While this may not be the Premier League it still falls under the banner that is the top tier of English Football.

Whether or not the lofty standards that the Barclays Premier league has achieved in the last two decades will continue to decay and whither, or blossom and bloom again we shall just have to wait and see. For now, however, I am content to pray that my grand expectations of what English football should be like will be met.