Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Our Premier League Is the Best in the World. So Where Are All the Good Players?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Our Premier League Is the Best in the World. So Where Are All the Good Players?

Article excerpt

Oh, why are we so good? Oh yes we are. The Premier League is the best in the world, no question, just count the billions coming in. Every club in the Prem is richer than Botswana. Crystal Palace gets more TV income than Barcelona. The whole world is gasping for Prem games. At home, you can't get a ticket, though seats cost more than a house in Gaborone.

There is no doubt that since the Prem League was created 24 years ago it has been a whopping financial success. They wouldn't be raking in all that money if it wasn't good, would they? And exciting.

Just look at this season, a large pack at the top fighting it out, with no clear leader, and each side liable to get stuffed by a so-called inferior team from lower down the league. It's the most open race in decades, which points to the overall quality. Doesn't it?

Leicester City, come on, that's remarkable: an unglamorous, un-rich provincial club showing the moneybags of London and Manchester how to do it. And Stoke and Palace and Watford, aren't they doing well?

The Prem is not like some of those boring leagues in Europe where the same one or two teams win everything, every year. That there is no clear, all-conquering super-team indicates the excellent standard of our wonderful Prem? Of course it does! So belt up. Hurrah for the Prem.

Why are we so bad? Why, if we are so totally fab, do we not have the best players? Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Suarez are the four best players in the world--but none of them plays here. Bit of a puzzle.

Is it 'cos we can't afford them? Course we can. So it must be because they don't want to come. The bastards. Sheer prejudice, if you ask me.

Ronaldo and Suarez, when they were young and foolish, did play here, then got out, sharpish. Paul Pogba, now at Juventus, being slavered over by every top team, was let go as a lad by Man United. He's unlikely to come back, not till he's old and knackered. Same with Modric and Bale. They made it playing here, got a world audience and acclaim, then whoosh, they were off. …

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