What makes a club “big”? Why are the “top four” always referred to as the “top four” – usually by teams outside the group wishing to break the “top four”.
Well, other than being four teams with very good sets of players, that spend more money on players than the rest of the football league combined, they are essentially just the same as Pompey. A group of XI players, and one manager looking to win games. Actually, that’s not really true either, as they have a much bigger squad than Pompey, and they have a management team far larger, with a greater variety of skills at there disposal, and a much better scouting network. But apart from that, they are the same as us. Oh, and we don’t have the global fan base, billionaire owner or prestige…but apart from THAT, we are the same.
At first glance, there appears to be a massive gap between the top four, and the rest of the league, and a certain other site wrote a very interesting article about how we should get rid of them (not put quite like that). On first glance, I would agree. Lowly Pompey have no chance of winning the league, what chance of lifting the FA cup was significantly reduced when they got Pompey and Chelsea’s numbers in the FA cup draw muddles up (they didn’t really), and well, we are not in the carling cup final…but spurs have a small chance. The champion’s league? Well, we aren’t even in it. So in that case, we should get rid of them? No.
The top 3 teams (we can ignore Everton, as they are really in our “pack”) are 9 points clear from the rest of the table. Then, between 4th and 8th – where we are – there are only 4 points between us (one point per place), then it slips right away again, as there are 9 points between 10th (west ham) and 12th (Middlesbrough). The team in between really should be up with us, if they hadn’t had such a bad start. So there, we have a group of 3 teams, then a group of 6 teams, then again, from 12th to 18th, only 7 points separate 7 teams (one point per place). – before once again slipping away to derby at the bottom. Ok, there are a few teams “in between” – notably spurs – who are a little out of place, but realistically, the league can be divided into 3 distinct areas: Those competing for the title; those competing for Europe; and those fighting off relegation.
In fact, as you go down, these groups keep on getting bigger, and the process spews into the lower leagues. In the championship, you have just 29 points separating 24 teams. Anyone can beat anyone, and as Leeds demonstrated, one good season doesn’t necessarily mean the next will be – and equally Watford demonstrated that just because you are expected to go down, you can still come up. In many ways, the championship is the “ultimate league” – the way it is meant to be. No run away leaders, no collapsing losers, everyone has a chance, surely it is more exciting to see if a team can put on a good run, and in the space of a half a season go from relegation threatened to promotion challenging (crystal palace) than to see a side Pompey put together an astonishing run of results, over 10 games, and go from relegation threatened to…avoided relegation.
I started writing this article thinking “maybe we should have a cup for those not in the top four” – as it would surely be more interesting to watch than the FA cup or league cup. But actually, I have come to the conclusion that the premiership is just a dull league, and something has got to change!
In the premiership, you have the “top four”. Then you have the “next eight” then you have “the next 12”. It’s just a dull league, everything is predictable. At the start of the season, people said Fulham, Wigan, Sunderland, and Birmingham would struggle. They said Derby would be hopeless. They said Middlesbrough and West Ham would be mid table. Everyone knows who would be challenging for Europe, and even most people knew who would win the title. Ok, some people had arsenal failing, not Liverpool – they got that bit wrong – but it hardly makes up for the rest of it, but who had stoke city to be leading the championship in February? And I doubt many people thought Sheffield united would struggle and sack Brian Robson either. If we want to make the league more exciting, why scrap the top four, when we can scrap the premiership?
Written by pompeycarpet.
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