25 Years of the Premier League - A Zeitgeist
The Premier League turns 25 on 15th August this year. We have seen a lot of ups and down since its inauguration.
There has been no shortage of drama in the last 25 years; 'The Invincibles', 'The Fairytale' and much more, the world has seen a lot.
Football is no longer seen as a sport; it has taken a life of its own. Three of Britain's eight leading newspapers have "football" displayed on their website, which is entirely different from the "sports" section.
This just goes to show how much the sport has dominated around the world. Today, Sky pays more than £10 million to broadcast every match!
The Premier League still remains a brilliant entertainment for the people. It is now considered as one of the most complete and balanced sporting leagues in the world.
It is true that there is more technical quality in the La Liga, more dependence on physicality in the Ligue 1, the tactics used in the PL might be completely different when compared to the Serie A and the players might not be as psychologically intelligent as the Bundesliga players; yet the Premier League is considered the best league in the world. This is because the Premier League thrives by blending the above qualities.
It was Eric Cantona, a French forward, who bought a significant change in the Premier League. He might not be as fondly remembered as Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry or Ryan Giggs, but he genuinely changed the game for PL.
He encouraged Manchester United players to pass the ball through the centre of the pitch instead of looking to the flanks. The United number 7 brought about a new sense of style in the Reds. This prompted other teams to do the same; Arsenal got Dennis Bergkamp and Chelsea got Gianfranco Zola.
The physical improvement came with the arrival of the Frenchman, Arsene Wenger. He has been with the Gunners for more than two decades now. He introduced proper dietary practices into his players. Not only did he introduce stretching sessions, which was considered bizarre that time but also helped to improve the dynamism of his foreign attackers.
The psychological revolution owes more to factors like self-belief, determination, and commitment. It was players like Xabi Alonso, Paul Scholes to name a few, who popularised possession football.
The tactical revolution came when Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez came to England in 2004, before which the PL was going through its worst spell in terms of goals-per-match.
The league improved drastically and its teams started performing well in the European competitions again. It dominated the Champions League to such an extent that it was then Europe's best league in terms of the coefficient.
However, after 2012, the PL clubs cannot count themselves amongst European elites. The league, though, can boast about being the most competitive one. The PL has the right balance, mixing quality and competitiveness, which makes it one of the most viewed sporting leagues in the world.
Let us now look at some facts and figures from Premier League's history.
Managers getting sacked in the PL is not new. The first sacking came in 1993. Ian Porterfield, Chelsea's manager, was the first to lose his job in the inaugural season.
The following two years saw a sharp rise in that figure. 15 managerial changes were made - including 8 sackings!
In the beginning of the Premier League, there was a strong Scandinavian influence. 17 players from the Scandinavian countries played in the league. With time, the number changed. There was an increase in the number of players from France (from 3 to 17) and Italy (from 1 to14) by the end of 1997-98.
However, the Brazilian players favour the La Liga to the Premier League because of fewer fixtures, it's physically less demand and a better climate. This is why the PL hasn't seen a lot of Brazilian talent. There are some exceptions like Oscar, Juninho and Philippe Coutinho, to name a few.
The Premier League has seen a total of 1,477 red cards in the last 25 years, which averages to 59.08 each season. The highest number of the red cards issued in a single league was in 1998-99, 2002-03 and 2005-06 - 72, while the lowest was 28 cards issued in 1993-94.
Manchester United have scored the most number of goals in the PL history - 1,856. Arsenal are behind that figure by 158 goals. The league has seen 25,769 goals scored in all. The inaugural season saw as many as 1,222 goals scored.
However, goals do not always guarantee success and no one knows it better than Blackpool. Despite netting 55 goals in 2010-11 - same as Tottenham, who finished 5th that season- the club got relegated.
So far only three teams have scored 100 goals or more in a single season - Liverpool in 2013-14 (101), Manchester City in 2013-14 (102) and Chelsea in 2009-10 (103).
The only team to concede 100 goals or more, in the past 25 years, in a single season is Swindon Town in 1993-94.
Alan Shearer tops the list for most goals scored in the PL history - 260 goals scored for Blackburn and Newcastle. Wayne Rooney ranks second with 198 goals scored for Everton and Manchester United.
The Premier League may not be perfect, with the recent increase in ticket prices and the racial abuses players have had to face but hey, no league is perfect. There are always some flaws here and there.
Yet supporters from all around the world are desperate to attend the Premier League games. As many as 13.6 million people turned up to watch the matches last season!
Let us now sit back and enjoy another 9 months of action packed football. The stage is set, the clubs are roaring to go and the fans are eagerly waiting for Mike Dean to blow the whistle and begin the Premier League 2017-18 season.