The English Premier League has established itself as the most prized league in the world. Every fan is an ardent supporter of a club and the passion for their team simply oozes out. In fact, not only the supporters, even the players love the atmosphere. We hear of rumours day in and day out of which player is likely to be transferred where. And if you hear their interviews clearly, most of them use the same line “I would love a move to the premier league”.
What is so special about this league that makes a player want to move as much for the league as for the team? Here are five reasons in my opinion that get the whole world glued to the television sets whenever a game is on:
1) Competition level
Recently, after Real Madrid clinched the La Liga title, the only discussion going around was “How Barca didn’t win it”. The actual question should be “Why didn’t anyone else come close?” If you look at the past few years of Spanish football, the battle for the top spot has only been between these two. The competition level is very poor and it’s just a question of which of these two clubs wins more games that decides where the title is headed.
On the other hand, if you look at the EPL standings, the top two teams are level on points while the next four teams are separated by just five points, which makes the final standings difficult to predict. Five teams, and in fact this time six, with Newcastle being added to the ranks, are capable enough to challenge for the title.
Though the Italian league is also heading towards a fight-to-the-finish finale, it hasn’t happened too many times; unlike the English league which always provides mouth watering climaxes to the audience.
Every game here is a battle. Whether you’re playing top-placed Manchester City or bottom-of-the-table Wolves, you’re chances of winning vary just a little. For example, Arsenal beat league leaders City but went down against Wigan. And that’s what makes the journey difficult for the teams as well as the fans, as they don’t know where their team is going to finish at the end of the season. On the other hand, in other leagues, it is more like a walkover for the top sides against relatively easier opposition.
For example, in the Spanish league, the El Classico is hyped mainly because that’s the only game where both teams face stiff competition. In the Italian league, it is only when the Milans or Juventus battle that they come into picture. But, in England, any game played between the top 6 gives a match to savour.
3) Value of goals
As the tables show, Barcelona and Madrid have goal differences of 80+ each, while the other teams have failed to cross 15+. Every game these teams play, they score around 4-5 goals at an average. It is, of course, a remarkable feat but it takes the interest off the game for a person looking forward to a hard-fought win. Premier league games mostly finish by narrow margins with unpredictable 90th minute goals, except for a few games which feature high scores.That is why Robin van Persie’s 28 goals are considered as valuable as Messi’s 46 and Ronaldo’s 44 in their respective leagues.
4) Player development and recognition
Players from the Dutch, Scottish and Portuguese leagues are lesser known to the world. Also, top coaches like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson help bring out the best from youth players and even matured ones. That is why whenever a player’s performance index dips, a move is on his mind and the destination is known.
Every player’s dream is to represent his national side at the Euros, Olympics and of course, the World Cup. A move to England almost instantly gains him recognition. We have seen Fabio Capello and other international coaches visit premier league games to dig out talent, while in other countries such scouting doesn’t happen much. People recognise players from teams like Wigan and Blackburn while in other leagues, they tend to stutter while thinking of player’s names, other than from the top sides of course.
Surveys suggest that the EPL is the most watched and followed league in the world. The Spanish league comes next followed by the Bundesliga and Serie A. Another point to ponder is that most people who are ardent supporters of teams in other leagues, do have an English club as a second favourite while the reverse need not be true. Also the popularity of this championship is such that even people who don’t follow the sport claim to have a favourite when asked by someone, to avoid embarassment, as “If you don’t watch the EPl, you aren’t human”.