Everton’s comprehensive defeat at the hands of Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League on Thursday night had the feel of a ‘final insult’ to the Premier League, in what has been a miserable few weeks for English football.
It followed Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City’s recent elimination from the Champions League, meaning there will be no English participation in the last eight of Europe’s top club competition for the second time in three seasons.
Everton’s defeat in the Ukrainian capital in fact means it’s the first time in over 20 years that no English clubs feature in the quarter-finals of any European competition. Even then the Premier League had just four representatives in 1992/93. It’s a worrying time for the English game, especially when you consider the finances that have been injected into the majority of Premier League clubs.
|Leeds United||Champions League||R2 (vs. Rangers)|
|Sheffield Wednesday||UEFA Cup||R2 (vs. Kaiserslautern)|
|Liverpool||Cup Winners’ Cup||R2 (vs. Spartak Moscow)|
|Manchester United||UEFA Cup||R1 (vs. Torpedo Moscow)|
Manchester City is the most obvious example of this. They have spent in excess of £650m on transfer fees alone since the Abu Dhabi Group takeover in 2008, but are yet to go beyond the last 16 stage of the Champions League in four attempts.
Barcelona teased, tormented and simply toyed with the English champions for 90 minutes on Wednesday night. The match could really have finished with a cricket score if not for the heroics of goalkeeper Joe Hart, who ironically cost just £600,000 two years before the takeover.
Granted it was a tough draw for City but what is Arsenal’s excuse? Monaco, 4th in France, annihilated Arsene Wenger’s side in the first-leg at the Emirates Stadium and though Arsenal came back strong in the return leg, it was simply too little too late. Wenger’s subsequent claims to abolish the away goals rule are nothing short of embarrassing.
Arsenal boast a proud record of qualifying for the Champions League 17 years running to date but have never won the competition, coming close only once in 2006. The Monaco defeat means they have suffered elimination in the Round of 16 for five consecutive years now and contrary to popular belief, Arsenal forked out almost £250m on players in those five years.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has spent over £200m in just two seasons and was quick to criticise the quality of French football prior to their second-leg meeting with Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea surprisingly got knocked out by PSG, who had to play 90 minutes with 10 players following Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card.
|Manchester City||Champions League||L16 (vs. Barcelona)|
|Chelsea||Champions League||L16 (vs. PSG)|
|Arsenal||Champions League||L16 (vs. Monaco)|
|Everton||Europa League||L16 (vs. Dynamo Kiev)|
|Liverpool||Europa League||L32 (vs. Besiktas)|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Europa League||L32 (vs. Fiorentina)|
|Hull City||Europa League||QR4 (vs. Lokeren)|
These woes coupled with a poor showing in the Europa League from English clubs this term means the Premier League is now in danger of losing one of their Champions League places in the near future unless performances improve.
Why have the performances been so bad? Isn’t the Premier League the best in the world? It’s certainly the biggest brand in world football right now, has unrivalled entertainment value but in terms of actual quality – La Liga and the Bundesliga are miles ahead.
Niall Newberry, Pundit Arena