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Premier League

The Big Six are just an illusion



Fatih Demireli's column

For years, the Premier League has inspired enthusiasm with its diversity and the claim of several clubs to want to become champions. In the meantime, Spanish conditions prevail from the mid-2000s and one almost has to be grateful to Liverpool FC that Manchester City is not the sole entertainer. The power of City is now so pronounced that you can even strengthen your opponents.

There was one last hello for Sir Alex. A year after Sergio Leonel “Kun” Aguero del Castillo, then better known as AGUEROOOOOO, snatched the title away from him at the last second, Manchester United reciprocated with an eleven-point lead over Manchester City in the championship. That was in 2013.

At 71, Sir Alex Ferguson jumped and danced for joy after beating Aston Villa to clinch the title. There wasn’t much to hop after that for Ferguson, Manchester United and many others in the Premier League who started the season on the road to hopping for the title at the end. England’s record champion ManUnited never became champion again. Ferguson is now retired.

Five of the nine championships since then have gone to Manchester City, the others to Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC (2) and Leicester City. The Premier League used to be so proud of the diversity it produced. The so-called big six, consisting of Manchester City, FC Liverpool, Manchester United, FC Chelsea, FC Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur could at least hope to be in the title race. If then, like in 2016 with Leicester, an absolute surprise club becomes champion? It couldn’t be more diverse.

the big six accounts for the top six places in the Premier League in most cases. If you look back into the recent past, only Leicester City (2016, 2019, 2021), Southampton FC (2016) and West Ham United (2021) advanced to the lucrative places – otherwise it is a closed society. As for the title fight, the big six just an illusion.

Diego Simeone found La Liga ‘boring’

The Premier League has become one big two developed – following the Spanish model from the mid-2000s, when the title was only decided between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid and the rest just filled the league. “It’s a boring league because Real Madrid and Barcelona play in their own competition. We’ll have to wait for the TV money to be distributed differently because it’s a two-tier society,” said Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone at the time .

The English media in particular celebrated Simeone for his statements and embellished them greatly because at the time there was an imaginary fight for the best league in the world and someone from the other side admitted that you have a boring league. Even when Simeone qualified his statements months later, he only apologized for the ‘boring’ description but said La Liga ‘gives you a few opportunities’ and that things need to change. After all, it was he who ended the boredom.

They don’t have this problem in the Premier League: the very lavish TV money is distributed fairly and in the league, which is occupied by investors, money is the least of your worries anyway. And yet a three-tier society has emerged in England: Man City and Liverpool in their own, Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester in their own – and then the rest.

Premier League boss Richard Masters does not want to admit this problem. “The league is very competitive. There are a number of pursuers who want to play for European places,” he said recently. And almost unintentionally describes the problem that the league now has.

Jürgen Klopp: “Just imagine…”

Only Manchester City and Liverpool can seriously claim the title. At Chelsea, after all Champions League winners in 2021 and a natural candidate for the title, the last participation in the first two places was in the 2016/2017 championship season.

You have to be grateful to Liverpool that they don’t leave ManCity alone and that you don’t have German or French conditions in the Premier League, where the champion has been virtually certain for years. “Imagine what the situation would be like if we weren’t so close? Imagine this situation!” Said Jürgen Klopp in last year’s final spurt of the title fight: “You have to make sure that it stays exciting and that it’s a exciting fight.”

It is a great asset that the Reds not only have the financial, but above all the strategic means to limit or at least attack the sovereignty of Manchester City. Liverpool have not even remotely spent what Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has invested in the Cityzens since taking over Man City in 2008. The volume is now said to be over two billion euros.

Liverpool have stayed sane over the years, not throwing everything overboard when there was a setback and growing organically into a title contender. Things were different for the others: Liverpool – also thanks to Jürgen Klopp, who changed the atmosphere in the club permanently – clung to the title fight and has now strengthened its squad so that one can continue to assume that they will not let City move away . And yet one has to state that Liverpool has only won the championship once.

The Premier People’s Champions since 2012

season master runner-up
2011/12 Manchester City Manchester United
2012/13 Manchester United Manchester City
2013/14 Manchester City Liverpool FC
2014/15 Chelsea FC Manchester City
2015/16 Leicester City Arsenal FC
2016/17 Chelsea FC Tottenham Hotspur
2017/18 Manchester City Manchester United
2018/19 Manchester City Liverpool FC
2019/20 Liverpool FC Manchester City
2020/21 Manchester City Manchester United
2021/22 Manchester City Liverpool FC

Manchester City strengthens its supposed competitors

And cities? Even if Pep Guardiola is a master of understatement and always pretends that it’s all a big sensation that you’re the best in the country, the Cityzens have become a force that is now almost perfectly equipped with Erling Haaland’s commitment. The remarkable sales of Raheem Sterling to Chelsea FC and Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal FC also show how great the power of Man City is.

Transfers within the big six are nothing unusual, but the caliber of the players was almost always limited, so that the sporting influence of the newcomers was rarely pronounced. Both Sterling and Jesus have the potential to significantly improve their teams and raise the quality.

Apparently Man City doesn’t seem to care that Chelsea or Arsenal are getting better thanks to the players they’ve sold themselves. The sporting advantage is so big that you can accept it. Ideally, thanks to the ex-City players, Chelsea and Arsenal will take points away from each other and each other, paving the way for Man City’s title fight all the more. The fact that the Cityzens, made up of players who would have been out of contract at the end of 2023, still generated over 100 million euros in transfer fees is a nice side effect.

Manchester City doesn’t want to know that they’ve turned the Premier League into a boring place. And even if they see it that way, what should they do about it? Just get a little worse so that it gets more exciting again?

The newspaper Manchester Evening Newswho is well-disposed towards Manchester City, wrote last season: “It’s curious that City are criticized for being too GOOD. Nobody goes into a Renoir exhibition and says: ‘Man, that’s boring, we can’t instead watch two children throwing paint at each other.'” With all due respect to Pierre-Auguste Renoir, such a color battle now and again would be something.