Although I prefer La Liga to the English Premier League, only a churl would ignore the EPL, especially since this portends to be the season that Manchester City arrives for real. It’s been coming for some time, and given the amount of petrodollars that has been pumped into the club, one could argue that it’s actually two seasons overdue. Nevertheless, this season is starting to shape up into a one-horse race. Yes there is only 5 points between City and the team in second place (archenemy Manchester United), but City’s dominance thus far has been near total.
To wit, the teams in second, third, and fourth place are (respectively) United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Newcastle United. As of this week, City has beaten them (respectively) 6-1, 5-1, and 3-1. No doubt the defeat of Manchester United was the most satisfying of the victories (at Old Trafford of all places) as well as the most comprehensive in score. Yet the fact that City have so thoroughly dominated their closest competitiors does not tell the whole story. As of now, 12 rounds of matches have been played in the EPL, and City have won 11 of them (the other was an away draw to Fulham). This is a ridiculously good start to the season by any standard, and better than both Barcelona and Real Madrid over in La Liga.
Even more impressive is that all of this comes despite the fact that last season’s talisman/resident-locker-room-poison has completely fallen out with the club in a saga that has made everyone involved look bad. Yet, the squad talent is so sparkling that one suspects that pretty soon wannabe champions are going to start beginning to come to the blue half of Manchester instead of the red half. City are thoroughly dominating the EPL and (once they get their act together and learn how to play in Europe) may well be the only team that can possibly challenge Barcelona/Real Madrid duopoly of the Champions League. Carlos Who?
Now this being City, all of this can go awry tomorrow. Certainly City fans are familiar with heartache and despair even if they have not reconciled themselves to it. And I continue to think that the Oil-garchs are destroying the game with their uncontrolled spending. Nevertheless, a City triumph is a good thing. For the past two decades, England has had fewest clubs win the national championship than any other major football nation in Western Europe. There have only been four. Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, Chelsea, and of course United who have dominated the competition. Perhaps the fifth team is finally ready to break through.
And perhaps Ian Ayre will rue his open desire to structure the EPL’s television deals like La Liga’s. Because once City becomes a recognized worldwide brand, which it will, then it too would demand a share of those rights. Which means that with City, United, Chelsea, and Arsenal all competing at the top-level, Liverpool may very well be the ones left out in the cold. Liverpool is the past; City is the future.
I have not listened to World Football Daily since Robert Burns left. It is nothing against the show or its new hosts, but rather I went on vacation just before he left, and when I am on vacation, my podcasts tend to build up. Now I am in the process of winnowing down my backlog.
I cannot offer any opinion as to whether Sophie and Martin are any good. On Big Soccer the general consensus is no, although I have not had a problem with either in the past (perhaps two British hosts–again–is a bit much.) There seems however, to be a lot of ugliness going on. Kenny Hassan, who swore up and down that he was leaving the show on good terms, reinstated his Twitter account and has since criticized the show (fairly nastily) and dropped hints that he is starting a new one.
I have my qualms with WFD. When I signed up, I knew what I was buying into–a show owned and produced by two guys who had previously hosted the same show (for free) on Sirius. There were times I was exasperated by the show, but they had quality guests so all was good. Shortly after Steven Cohen left last April, things changed. There was a new mysterious owner, and I don’t know who it is (and that really bothers me because I like knowing where my money goes.) Then Kenny left. Then the video podcasts stopped. Extra shows came and disappeared to be replaced by new ones (and none of them interest me). The show feels completely different now, and I am not loving it.
However, I don’t blame the hosts. This is a management problem through and through. I feel like I bought into something and then the rug was pulled out from under me. Which means that ultimately it is Steven and Kenny who are to blame for failing to follow through on the vision that they sold. I have no idea whether I will continue my subscription when it ends. There are a zillion football podcasts out there, and a few of them are even worth listening to. They are all free if not daily. I’ll give the new show a chance, but I wonder if perhaps it is my turn to also follow Steven and Kenny and leave.
And by the way, if Kenny (or Steven) starts a new podcast, I’m not following. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.