EPL really spoiling us & Warnock quits

14th March 2024

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EPL is the place to be

Look around at all of the major European leagues and you will see that they look wrapped up and we are only in March. Real Madrid are 7 points clear with 10 games to go. Bayer Leverkusen are 10 points clear with 9 games to go, In Italy Inter Milan have a huge 16 point lead over AC Milan with 10 games to go and in France PSG are easing to yet another league title win as they also have a 10 point lead at the top over Brest. There is no excitement for a league title winner and while all of those teams should also be commended for playing brilliant football it is another reason why the Premier League in England is seen as the best and most competitive in Europe and the World. That is no boast and is fact. It hasn't always been a fact though, 20 years ago when La Liga in Spain was obviously the strongest and most exciting a lot of dyed in the wool football fans in England would have told you that the Premier League was where it was at, it became laughable. But for a good decade now the Premier League has been on top looking down at the others. It is where the best talent wants to be, the best managers and the billionaire owners, and it doesn't look like letting up. 

That is evidenced in the fact that we are witnessing probably the best English club side of all time in Manchester City and yet this season they are in 3rd place. The excitement is at boiling point because only 1 point separates the top 3 clubs. Arsenal are in 1st place as they try to win their first league title in 20 years on goal difference to Liverpool. Liverpool's season has turned into an emotional rollercoaster given that Jurgen Klopp, one of their most successful managers and deeply loved in the city is leaving at the end of this season, can he go out on a high? And then there is Manchester City, a dominant City led by one of the all time great managers in Pep Guardiola who are chasing their record beating 4th league title in a row. It is incredible that after 28 games going back to last August just 1 point is the difference. It is unique to see that three different clubs can win the league, usually in England the league title becomes a two horse race by now but having 3- well let's face it we are being spoiled. With 10 games to go here are the latest odds to win the league title.

Premier League winner: Manchester City 2.10, Liverpool 3.25, Arsenal 3.75, Tottenham 201.00, Aston Villa 501.00


Chapions League format changes

The Champions League format will change next season and the draw is so complex that a computer will be replacing a human to make the draw. It has been estimated that the draw would take up to four hours if used in the traditional method. Normally one should be worried about this but in this case and given how stale and boring UEFA draws have been in the past complete with silly unfunny jokes a computer having the task of a draw may be better and might well add some excitement to proceedings. What won't add excitement is UEFA's constant tinkering and we have been told that clubs will now have tennis like seedings. This means that the two best clubs cannot meet until a final and for example the four best ranked sides cannot meet until the semis if they were able to make it there. With normal surprises in football it means that we may never see a huge heavyweight pairing again. You want to see Manchester City v Real Madrid, or Barcelona v Liverpool think again, with these new rankings that is not a certainty. It is interesting to note from an English perspective that if West Ham were to overcome Freiburg in their Europa League match that should be enough coefficient points to allow five clubs in the Premier League to play in next season's Champions League. Aston Villa whose top four hopes were dented last weekend as they lost 4-0 against Tottenham will be cheering on the Hammers in their 2nd leg tie then, currently David Moyes side are trailing 1-0.


Warnock quits

Neil Warnock who has managed for 44 years quit Aberdeen after just over a month this week. For Warnock the temporary job in Scotland was always about fun and gaining some time in Scotland but he has held his hands up and asked the board that they need a full time manager. It is perhaps unfortunate that he quit in March and couldn't see it out until the end of the season given that the Dons have reached the semi-finals of the cup. While Aberdeen would have been outsiders to claim the trophy one would have thought the chance of silverware would have kept Warnock in the job. It seems just from his interviews though that he was lonely up in Scotland, away from family. At the end of the day at least he's been honest and this might not be the end of his career for the 75 year old who has hinted that another job may be on the horizon for next season.


Pepe appreciation

Finally while Arsenal erupted over the week as they won a thrilling penalty shoot out against Porto to reach the quarter finals of the Champions League there was one man on the opposing side probably contemplating his playing days. That man was Pepe who at 41 mostly kept Arsenal's youngsters quiet. Now Pepe does not have a whole bunch of fans, at least if you didn't support Porto or his former club Real Madrid. This defender for all of his quality was sent off no less than 15 times and has received an astonishing 186 yellow cards. Pepe could be a very tough player to play against just ask Lionel Messi. But it feels as though he has some support from genuine fans who love the game, probably due to his age and despite winning almost 30 trophies in a glittering career perhaps there was a sadness that Pepe had exited a competition where he now holds the record as being the oldest player to have played in the Champions League. Will this season mark the end of his career? Who knows one would like to think that a defender who probably would have fitted like a glove into the Leeds United side of the early 1970s will have some more footballing time on his side. Despite the negatives of his game it is like a ying and yang because Pepe does also give us a reminder and a reflection of what defending used to be like, that can't be all too bad to look back once in a while in an ever changing world.

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