Liverpool failed to make it past the group stages, Manchester City lost at home in the first leg of the round of 16 against Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea crashed out on away goals against Monaco and French champions PSG respectively. Last season only one English side made it to the semi-finals while the year before none at all reached that stage. In the past six years, only one English club, Chelsea, managed to win the Champions League and it had to go down to penalties. Prior to that, from 2004 until 2012, there was English club in seven finals. This season, there’s a chance that not a single English team makes it to the quarter-finals. With French, Spanish and German teams improving, is English football on the downside?
The Premier League brands itself the world’s best football league and the English clubs enjoy the best tv coverage and sponsorship deals around the world, they also attract foreign players more than any of their competitors. Their players are well paid and enjoy unmatchable benefits thanks to lucrative contracts but when it comes to performance; neither England’s national team nor the English clubs have been able to prove that they are the best of the best.
In the Premier League, Chelsea are en route to be crowned champions with little competition to them, while PSG have been struggling to reach the first spot since the very first week of the league, they’re stuck in a competition with Lyon, who lead the table, and Marseille, who are only two points behind. Despite that, it appeared that PSG were able to cope with the pressure of having their best player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off. The Parisian club was able to get past Chelsea thanks to 2 away goals at Stamford Bridge. On the other side of London, Arsenal were expected to easily cruise past Monaco but the latter despite being out of the Champions League zone in Ligue 1 managed to score three goals at the Emirates, such a performance is never down to luck, the English clubs were arrogant and underestimated their opposition.
“I saw their game on Saturday,” the Portuguese scoffed. “I think our training session on Saturday was harder than their game.” Mourinho’s statement on PSG’s game with Lens is one of complete arrogance. The assumption that the French league lacks competition is completely false. In fact, England’s top four clubs have won 44 of their 60 matches against clubs in the bottom half, drawn three and lost only three. In Ligue 1, the top three lost six times from 45 matches against bottom half clubs.
It’s not too late for the English clubs to review their game, they owe it to themselves and to the reputation of their league to focus more on the quality of the players they are getting rather than signing players for branding purposes. The Premier League clubs owe it to their fans in the first place to regain their status as the best league world-wide, people are paying huge figures to watch English football, they deserve to watch the best performances. It’s time for the world’s best league to self-reflect.