Tuesday 15th May 2012
In an article of yours published on Sunday May 13th 2012 (the final day of the 2011-2012 Premier League football season), you said that a decision to vote the aforementioned campaign as the best in the 20 year history of the Premiership was a ‘‘dumb verdict.’’ You then said, ‘‘if you don’t believe me, listen to the recent words of David Moyes, the wise and experienced Everton manager,’’ who said that, ‘‘the players in the Premier League 10 years ago were at a superior level than those of today in terms of technique and ability.’’ You’re talking as if his words are to be taken as Gospel. How about other wise and experienced figureheads such as Alan Hansen, Gary Neville, Greame Souness, Jamie Redknapp and a substantial amount of others in the game who think that this is, not just arguably, but most likely the best season of the Premier League’s history thus far? Referring to Moyes, you asked ‘‘care to look into his eyes and disagree?’’
Well, yes I would actually (that’s if he was even disputing that this was the best in 20 years. He may not have been discussing that subject when he was stating that there were better players on these shores 10 years ago. But anything to support your opinion). It’s anyone’s opinion in what they think is the best – it doesn’t mean you’re wrong – but to give a resounding ‘‘no’’ in relation to this is, to use a word of yours, ‘dumb’. So what if the players are not ‘technically’ as good as 10 years previously (although I beg to differ). It’s the way the games pan out that is of relevance. And no other season has provided so much drama and defied so many expectations as the one just gone. It is one where many Premier League records have been broken. But it seems you’re forsaking that in favour of players’ technicalities. And before you think, ‘‘oh, but you can witness that kind of drama in the Essex Senior League,’’ this year’s players are not exactly pushovers are they? We want to see great technical players and we have them at our disposal. Players such as Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart, Hatem ben Arfa, Juan Mata and many others could have strolled into any Premiership team of 15 years ago, 10 years ago, nine years ago, eight years ago etc… I wonder if you have changed your mind after Sunday’s drama. I don’t have to say much about that and the other things you mentioned in your article (the high scoring games and the surprising rise of Newcastle United, Swansea City and Norwich City). Mind you, I would say Swansea are technically pretty good. Having players with a more successful passing rate than some of those in the current Barcelona side is nothing to be sneezed at. And they were only promoted last year!
So the overall quality has been poor has it? You probably haven’t discarded the years that are around the 10 year mark so would you say that the 2000-2001 campaign, which featured most of the same players as 2002 (if we’re going to get pedantic about it), was superior to this one just because the league was filled with professionals who were supposedly better? This, despite the fact that the league title was sewn up in mid-April by Manchester United, and the relegation places decided by the penultimate game? Of course, you may think that the league season that has just been finalised was better than 2000-2001, but going by your hypothesis that the football has been ‘poor’, and that it is ‘far from being the best’, then using those words of David Moyes to back it up, it would appear that you base great seasons on technicality rather than excitement and drama. Does this mean it was worse than many of Italy’s Serie A campaigns where ‘technically superior’ players have often played out drab and stuffy 0-0 draws and 1-0 wins? Would you prefer that at the expense of that other Italian pastime: theatre and entertainment? The sort of which we have witnessed for the past year? They may have been technically superior (maybe they still are), but it’s not as if the Premier League is or was far off. It must be said that going by the amount of allocated Champions League spots, the English league is currently better, whether that’s for technicality or enjoyment.
Don’t forget that the fans have a massive, massive part to play and I am sure that from most of their mutual perspectives it has been the best. The Beatles may not have been the best technical band, but they conjured and then stirred up more emotion than any other. The people on The Voice, X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent may be technically better singers than Bob Dylan, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best. Like a football season with its incidents and outcomes, the whole package has got to be taken into consideration, not rigid technicalities. You got me into a bother with your narrow mindedness, but I should have seen it coming. After all you are the same person who feels that Xabi Alonso would be a more justified inclusion in a ‘best of Liverpool’ from the recent past than Steven Gerrard. What a ludicrous statement. If Alonso stayed, maybe, but with the way Gerrard has carried the Reds in matches over the last ten years or so, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. And what was it you said about Paul Scholes last month? ‘‘The Player of the Year surely has to be the one who has been most influential in the business of winning trophies, as well as being easy on the eye.’’ This is despite him beginning his season in January and United ending the campaign without a trophy, which I have to admit, was a surprise. But even if they had won the title, it would still have been a pretty preposterous claim on your behalf. Are you trying to be the Jeremy Clarkson of the football writing world? As in you say these things with force in order to create a minor controversy? Or something to that effect? Or are you as ‘dumb’ as the verdict that this was the best season?
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