116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What of the Prem?

Liam must be distraught. Liam is my current favorite bartender of the moment, occasional drinking buddy and full time Manchester United fan, and the prospect of facing Champions League elimination against Benfica, for the second year in a row, must be making him sick. On more than one occasion I have listened to him drown his Red Devil sorrows in a pint of Stella, bemoaning ManYoo's schizophrenia with his thick Irish accent. "Why can't Rooney score in Europe?" he says. "We need another striker," he moans. I remind him that they're top of the table, but he says, "this is the worst Manchester United team that would even win the Premier League."
I've got to say, he has a point: if this Manchester United team wins the league, they would be miles behind previous Man U teams, in terms of talent, depth and cohesion. Let's take a look at the on-field results, first: not that anyone really cares about the Carling Cup, but losing to Southend? Now that they've sputtered in the group stage of the Champions League again, they face another do or die (this time at home) against Benfica. In years past, they would have been overwhelming favorites; this year, few would be surprised if they crash out once again.
Even so, they still find themselves at the top of the league, even without their once-legendary midfield and famous squad depth. This leads to a very honest question: has the quality of the Premiership declined in recent years? There is probably no way to actually quantify whether or not the talent level of English soccer is any better or worse than in years past, but it does seem that way. The wizardry of Zola, grace of Bergkamp, explosiveness of Owen, and excellence of Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham seems to be in shorter supply. The league has stars, to be sure, but something seems to be missing this season. Out of the top four teams (Man U, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Arsenal), has any truly displayed the kind of form befitting a champion?
It is entirely possible that I'm overreaching here, I don't deny it. It is still early in the season, many teams are still shaking off a post-World Cup hangover, and the meat of the schedule (Champions League knockout, F.A. Cup, etc.) has yet to kick in. Perhaps I'm getting carried away with nostalgia. Maybe I'm sour over the fact that I picked Liverpool to win the league, and, well, the less said about that the better. But maybe the league's quality really is declining. Either way, I'm still going to try to assemble my soccer-novice friends to watch the Man U-Chelsea game on Sunday, so it can't be that bad...


Blogger Laurie said...

I recently read a rumor (or I think I did, I should probably Google before posting but I'm too lazy) that Trezeguet and Man U were mutually considering each other.

Alas, Trezeguet is another one of those players who kicks my maternal instinct into overdrive. It's been hard watching him this year! I think it would be good to get him out of Serie B hell, but I'm not sure about Manchester...

1:32 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

It might be an ok fit, Man U could use a big target man up front, and their lack of depth could become an issue as the season wears on.

Out of all the top teams that could sign Trezeguet, United might make the most sense, although Barcelona, with their current injury situation, could also use him.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I do kind of hope that when he goes somewhere it's a long-term thing. He and Lyon were also trading mutual air-kisses a week or two ago. Problem with that is that they only need another striker because all theirs are currently broken. When their starters get healthy, Trezeguet's on the bench and that much closer to being thirty.

Now that he's probably (?) permanently off the National team, I'd sure like to see him with a club that would utilize and value him and let him finish his career in a good way.

(Am I sounding like a mom?) :-)

6:45 PM  

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