The Premier League lie has been exposed again in European disaster

John Nicholson
Aston Villa v Olympiakos while Jurgen Klopp unhappy.
Aston Villa v Olympiakos while Jurgen Klopp unhappy.

And so we return to the sweet bliss of the blinkers of the Premier League mind-wipe, the best league in the world, where everyone is brilliant and that’s the reason we are all paying through the nose for tickets and TV subscriptions.

Don’t question the product. This isn’t that rubbish European football, this is the mighty monied Premier League that Europe hates because they buy all their best players. Money rules. Yay!

But on Thursday we saw a club which made a profit on transfers this season and whose most valuable player is worth just €13m, beat – and arguably play off the park – a club with a squad worth six times as much who bought a winger for €55m and spent €93m on transfers.

Premier League clubs are massively financially dominant, whichever tournament they play in. And yet they fail, not always, but often. If all that money was worth having, they should not unreasonably win all three European tournaments in most years. What is all the money for if it’s not to assert your dominance over a club like Olympiakos. The financial difference is huge.

It’s the best illustration of how we are sold an English exceptionalist lie deployed to keep us spending. Players which cost a fortune are regularly beaten by players who don’t. And some commentators are still surprised. And in the studio the pundits all agree, nodding with the sage intellect blessed upon them that yes, that’s why for me, it’s the best league in the world. Ooops we’ve lost. Yeah, for me, it’s the best league in the world. Repeat after me.

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Time and again our teams are beaten in Europe by those that are significantly financially poorer and yet the lies continue. This is born out of a toxic mix of English exceptionalism and broadcast economics. Familiarity bias is constantly at play. Of course Aston Villa are better than Olympiakos, because I’ve heard of them. Whereas I’ve not a clue about who the Greeks are. You may scoff, but coverage is often no more sophisticated than that.

I recall Paul Merson decrying doing well in Greece as not meaningful and not a recommendation. Obvious stupidity, but typical English exceptionalism. We are not presented with an unbiased even-handed assessment of a game. On Thursday there was absolutely no doubt that Villa were considered and referred to as superior until the Greeks had scored four and then shock horror, “Olympiakos can’t half play”. Anybody would think they’d won the league by 19 points in 2021/22. Yeah, but anyone can win their league. We have loads more money, we must be better.

If you listened to any of West Ham’s games this year, their huge financial dominance was rarely, if ever, mentioned on TV. The games were presented as though they were an even match-up when they were anything but.

Even the loss to Leverkusen was presented as though the Hammers were the underdogs, impoverished by comparison, when in reality they have probably wasted more money on strikers alone than Leverkusen have spent in the last five years. No, not mentioned, anything to absolve the Premier League and Moyes of blame for being beaten. It’s pathetic and dishonest.

And when someone is good, too much brilliance is regularly assigned to them. The way Pep Guardiola is talked about you’d think he was spinning gold out of twine and not merely in charge of a large budget to buy who he wants. It’s not to say he’s not very good, just not infallible. And of course he lost too, but still maintains this almost holy status because the league leans on his talent to try and pretend it’s worth all the money.

Liverpool were humiliated by Atalanta and a striker who Moyes couldn’t manage. But it will make no difference. As soon as the European games have been lost, it’s back to the Premier League and the lies and obfuscation like they haven’t been humbled on a European stage. We’ll say no more about it, this is the best league in the world. If it’s mentioned at all it’s to bemoan the amount of games played, like European success is nothing but a hindrance to the Premier League and this has primacy.

Our television has bought the league’s propaganda because they think it offers some reflected glory they can charge for. I don’t know and can’t define the best league in Europe. On what criteria do you do it? Does it even matter? It does if you’re trying to maximise money to see it, I suppose.

Of course Europe just gets in the way. Players are overworked. Yes, that’s what it must be. It can’t be that they’re better than us, we haven’t even heard of them.

Everyone knows that European-located players don’t get as tired. Boo to TNT for paying so much to broadcast the games. The bullies. The demands are too great, not for anyone else of course, certainly not the winners, who always have it easier, despite never having money to build a big squad. Thank goodness we don’t take the Europa League or Conference League seriously.

Exhaustion is your first excuse. Having massive money in order to have a big squad doesn’t count and is never mentioned as a counter-argument to tiredness. Poor Premier League. So tired carrying all that money to the bank. You didn’t lose because you were tired; you lost because you’re not good enough on the day.

Maybe being in Scotland gives a clearer perspective, from here we see the deceit for what it is, the distortion of truth as an obvious deception. The truth is that Premier League teams are often overrated by a biased and blinkered media and are routinely exposed by good European sides who play in supposedly inferior leagues.

And we wonder why England can’t win anything. We vaunt players and managers in a regularly poor environment and wonder why they go missing at international level. Everything makes sense when you’ve spotted the grotesque lie. Everything falls into place. How many times does it have to be revealed before we understand it?