For years now, the generally accepted norm has been that the Premier League is the best in the world.
Certainly, as the TV rights get sold in more and more territories, its popularity would appear to back up that school of thought.
Or so you would think.
Pep Guardiola, in a recent interview, stuck his head above the parapet to label the EPL as overrated for all intents and purposes.
Coming from arguably the best coach in Europe, perhaps even the world, that’s a body blow that Richard Scudamore et al can well do without.
But does the Catalan have a point?
It appears that the general thrust of his argument is that the way that the league is packaged, by the likes of Sky and BT, gives a false impression to consumers.
That, in fact, the other European leagues exceed what the Premier League has to offer.
From an economical standpoint there’s definitely a tidy sum to be made by plying your trade in England, and the transfer fees for almost any player now are verging on the ridiculous meaning clubs are quids in too.
However, it’s important to note that the best players still play abroad.
La Liga host many of the most technically gifted elite exponents – Messi, Suarez, Bale et al – whilst Ligue 1 can boast the likes of Mbappe, Neymar, Cavani and others.
Serie A are seeing a resurgence, particularly with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo by Juventus, and even the Bundesliga is still home to players such as Lewandowski, Rodriguez and more.
Supporters in Spain will point to a lack of organisation making their experience often less enjoyable than it should be, kick-off times being arranged just two weeks before the match a prime example.
Perhaps in that area the Premier League does excel, and, after all, what is a product without its consumers?
What’s interesting about Guardiola’s broadside, however, is that it comes two years after ex-Liverpool midfielder, Didier Hamann, described the league as a ‘fraud’ and how Scudamore had ‘sold a Skoda for a Lamborghini for the last 15 years.’
The most damning example of why England’s top flight is still behind the rest of Europe lies in just how poorly its teams perform on the continent.
Last season there was genuine belief that Liverpool could end La Liga’s domination of the European trophies, ditto Arsenal in the Europa League, however, both Madrid clubs, Real and Atleti, soon put paid to that notion.
Looking back over the last decade or so, there really has been no comparison, as the vast majority of Premier League clubs have consistently failed on the bigger stage.
That surely has to be the barometer when gauging how good something is?
Maybe Pep got it exactly right.
That once you take off the veneer and drill down into the detail, what’s left isn’t really all that fabulous.
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