Last night signified something that many blue Manchurians have waited years for; A sign of hope, and change within the system, a moment of joy, as they moved ever closer to the emulating their city neighbours. For the rest of us, it denoted another step towards an impeding shift in power that will spell the end of something we all hold dear to our hearts. The obligation for a champion of English football is weak and struggling to define its necessity, as it dies at the hands of European football.
The haven of Champions League qualification has breathed life into a creature that now exists solely to undermine any form of competition within the domestic structure of the country.
Of course, this is hardly a revelation. The UEFA Champions League has been picking up speed and dispelling opposition with ease since its introduction. One has only to look upon the collection of alternative continental competitions’ to understand the full extent of this tournaments power. Whether it be the Intertoto Cup, the Europa League or the UEFA Cup, the big wigs in Switzerland have struggled to provide an alternative to this faultless tournament for years, and now it’s coming after the domestic game.
The sheer extravagance that accompanies Europe’s premier tournament is enough to clout the minds of any die hard fan who once believed the necessity to claim they were the best in the country was all that mattered. Fans no longer demand victory and fear a drop in form in the hope of trophies, but in the desperate desire to join a fellowship of football clubs that live above any sense of realism or responsibility as they lay claim to the best in the World.
The once great FA cup has long been overshadowed by similar style competitions in Europe– not simply because of the financial rewards – but because it allows a stronger, more distinguished platform to display the might of any club in such a circumstance.
Conquering Europe’s best is surely a far great achievement than performing above the rest in your own back garden is it not? This is a competition full of competitors who have been trained to win – it doesn’t tend to any mid-table clubs who are perhaps a little too content with their position in the eyes of a neutral and it certainly doesn’t have to deal with recently promoted sides who fail to match up.
One look at the proclaimed top four sides in the Barclays Premier League at the moment would suggest that this isn’t far from the case. Arsenal and Manchester city who are placed third and fourth respectfully at the time of writing, have announced modest plans of European qualification as the only structure to their season expectations that fall under ‘necessary’.
Similarly, the apparent title challenge that came to a halt on Sunday between champions-to-be Manchester United and Chelsea only became apparent when the former picked up some unexpected form and stumbled into a two horse race that they dare not proclaim timid remarks about, at the risk of giving an impression that they just want to be sure of European football next season and anything else is nothing more than a bonus.
Perhaps its generation thing – a sign of the times we live in. If we were to take a look at the men in charge of all four aforementioned sides, the dissimilarities become rather evident. Sir Alex Ferguson rules his Manchester goliath like a power hungry Shogun with an inferiority complex to match any eleven year old child. The other three – particularly Arsene Wenger- strike me as men who possess a level of satisfaction and a degree of maturity in acknowledging what they’ve achieved in the best league in the world, as long as they get a glimpse of the big lights in Europe.
Man is a gaming animal. He must always be trying to get the better in something or other. – Charles Lamb
You can follow Stefan Bienkowski on Twitter @Stefan_gla.