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 Is the Premier League boring ?

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Gary Stevens
Gary Stevens
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PostSubject: Is the Premier League boring ?   Wed May 07 2008, 09:06


Keegan off mark with Premier League claim

Premier League by Phil McNulty - BBC Sport (U1816352) 06 May 2008




Newcastle United boss Kevin Keegan has dared to break ranks from those who automatically lavish unqualified praise on the Premier League.

Keegan delivered a sobering message after watching Newcastle beaten by Chelsea at St James' Park.

He said: "This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring, but great, leagues."

Keegan's logic is based on the fact that the so-called 'Big Four' have taken the top places again and his aim now is to finish top of the 'other Premier League.'

The gospel according to Keegan is that fifth is the new first in England.

It is easy to see where Keegan is coming from as he now regards the top four as over the hills and far away - but he is wrong to say the Premier League is in danger of becoming boring.

How can a league where the title is going down to the final day of the season, and may yet be settled on the fine margin of goal difference, be boring?

How can a league where the relegation issue hangs on such a knife edge going into the final day be tedious?

Keegan may just be indulging in a spot of expectation management to calm the ambitions of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, and if this is his motivation it is actually a clever move.

Examine the facts, however, and there is no way the rest of the Premier League should give up on breaking up the cartel at the top.

Everton gave Liverpool an even run for fourth place until their recent slump - and finished ahead of their rivals in 2005.

Tottenham have come close to gatecrashing the elite club in recent times, and could easily have a shot at a top-four place next term under the guidance of Juande Ramos and backed by the usual big spending of the Spurs board.

And should we decry a league for being boring simply because the usual suspects contest the top prizes?

Is golf boring because Tiger Woods is such a dominating, iconic figure? Has Wimbledon been boring during the years of Roger Federer's supremacy?

No. We have revelled in the brilliance of these two outstanding sportsmen.

What about football in Spain, France, Holland, Portugal, Germany and, of course, Scotland?

Do we see a scramble of eight or nine clubs chasing the title every year? Not a chance - it is same teams almost every year.

Real Madrid have just claimed Spain's La Liga for the 31st time, while FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Olympiakos have all retained titles won last season.

Inter Milan are on course to top Serie A for the third successive season, a feat emulated by Porto in Portugal. PSV and Olympiakos have won four domestic titles in a row while Lyon are set to make it seven straight titles in France.

Keegan is right to say the top four in the Premier League are currently ahead of the rest, and you could even make a case for Liverpool still having to close a gap on Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

But this will not stop - or should not stop - clubs like Everton, Aston Villa and Spurs trying to make the breakthrough.

And Manchester City may also call themselves contenders if owner Thaksin Shinawatra could be persuaded to simply provide his potentially huge finance to back the manager and leave football to the experts.

Keegan has a point to degree, but rather than call it boring he should call it a continuity of excellence.

Of course there is huge frustration because of the increased financial firepower available to United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool courtesy of either benevolent owners or Champions League qualification and attendant spin-offs.

It is not a level playing field, but when was the last time it was?

This does not make the Premier League boring - far from it.

Ask fans of Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Aston Villa, Blackburn, Reading, Fulham and Birmingham how they will feel on Sunday morning as they prepare for the final day of the season.

Emotions will be swirling around their heads but impending boredom will not be one of them.

I am a huge admirer of Keegan and his open honesty makes him a breath of fresh air - but he's wrong on this one.
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