By Rohan Ricketts
The Premier League was never the best league in the world based on the quality of football. In terms of revenue making, marketing potential and sponsorship deals I would say it IS ahead of the rest of the world. But when you are talking about the ART of football – the way the game should be played, with skill and technique – the Premier League is not better than Spain, Brazil and possibly Argentina.
The English game is based more on power, size and speed rather than technical ability and genuine skill. Thierry Henry’s experience in Spain is an example of why players with pace and power can run riot in the Premier League, yet going to Spain requires more of technical and tactical acumen. Take nothing away from Thierry: he has been an incredible player and a sublime goalscorer. Yet he himself had to admit to the demands from a technical and tactical standpoint with Barcelona were completely different. True football talent such as Xavi and Ronaldinho have rejected coming to England, knowing that the game here is not about their talent but more about their workrate and fitness. The value of the football is critical in Spain; over in England, possession is lost every few seconds and this shows a lack of control and awareness.
I don’t understand how we can watch a team like Barcelona continue to be the best footballing team in the world and not take some serious notes. In England, the coaches and the FA need to see how they develop talent and play such an attractive and effective brand of football. If you want to become a better Tennis player, who would you study? Roger Federer. If you want to become a better Table Tennis player, you would study China’s Ma Long. It’s no different with football.
I’m going to end by saying this ever so bluntly: in Brazil and Spain, if you are not good enough, you don’t play. In England you don’t have to be good enough. You just have to be strong, fast and fit and be able to follow basic tactical orders. If you can do that, you can play. It does leave technical standards to be questioned though.