The Premier promised a triumphant year. Fueled by the formidable hand in hand between Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s City, it was going to eat the world hand in hand with a financial vitality unrivaled in the world. With the League in crisis after the ravages of the covid, Germany admiring itself in the mirror of its one-horse career, Italy in purgatory, France exporting players (except the most desired…), the European Super League in the abyss, the only thing missing the arrival of Saudi capital via Newcastle at the end of 2021 to confirm the English aspirations to permanent supremacy.
Yes, City won the title yesterday in the last breath thanks to a spectacular comeback, thus questioning the national supremacy to which Liverpool aspired after winning the FA Cup and the League Cup. And on Saturday the highlight of the year awaits Liverpool with the Champions League final in Paris against the fearsome Real Madrid. A final in which Pep Guardiola aspired to be, whose collapse at the last moment at the Bernabéu will allow the birth of a cataract of theories and explanations about the influence of the absurd in football. Or the mental temper.
In any case, despite the disenchantment he experienced yesterday, it is difficult to argue that this has been Jürgen Klopp’s season. In seven years at the helm of Liverpool, Klopp has won two Premier Leagues, an England Cup, a League Cup, a Champions League, a European Super Cup and a Club World Cup. An enormous record if you take into account that before he arrived, Liverpool had not won the League for 30 years, 16 without winning the cup, 10 without winning the League Cup and 14 without winning the Champions League. In his six years at City, Pep has won four league titles, one cup and four league cups. Not bad for a team with very little money in the showcase.
But the brilliance of that two-horse race does not allow to hide that the Premier has been halfway in Europe (a single finalist, even in the Champions League, is little for a league that claims absolute European hegemony) in football and unexpected storm clouds have formed in other matters. The fall from grace of Roman Abramóvich has not only put Chelsea on the brink of the abyss, but also represents a very serious wake-up call on the viability of a financial model that, despite its indisputable strength (the Premier swims in the abundance of television rights and remains a pole of attraction for investment from overseas) relies too much on the vanity of some of its club owners. Including political and geostrategic vanities.
The blackest cloud of all, however, has been the sudden revival of pitch invasions, in the style of what happened in the 70s and 80s. As many as five invasions occurred last week: when Huddersfield eliminated Luton in the playoff semifinals to ascend to the Premier; when Nottingham Forest qualified at home to Sheffield United in the other semi-final; when Mansfield Town eliminated local Northampton Town for promotion to League One; in the other semi-final between Port Vale and Swindow Town and when Everton confirmed permanence by coming back (3-2) against Crystal Palace.
In all the invasions there were provocations and aggression towards visiting players and coaches, including Palace manager Patrick Vierira, who kicked in the air to defend himself. A Forest fan was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail for brutally heading a Sheffield player.
A worrying phenomenon, difficult to stop and that some experts attribute to the increase in crime in general and a drop in the discipline of soccer fans in particular after the confinements caused by the covid. City fans also invaded the field to celebrate the title, of course.
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