Have you ever considered that the vast majority of the Premier League is absolutely awful? This year more than ever it has hit me that pretty much all the teams below the top 6, and to be honest you could easily throw Arsenal in with this bunch, really are not very good at all. In fact not very good is probably flattering, there is some genuine dross that is comfortably mid-table. I know this makes me sound like a massively spiteful curmudgeon, which is only mostly true, allow me to illustrate the point using probably the worst mid table dross of the lot: Everton.
Everton find themselves in 8th place this season, realistically only a place below where most people expected them to finish. Yet despite only being a place below their expectations, Everton are genuinely horrendous. Most of their big summer signings have not delivered, or started delivering too late into the season, and they play awful football under Sam Allardyce. You only have to look at Burnley above them, who went on a 13 game winless streak and in that time did not drop below 7th place once. It seems in general this year there is a lot of dross in the league. But why?
The dominance of Manchester City has not helped matters. The fact that barely anyone has taken points off them has automatically made everyone’s points tally that bit lower. However style is very much an issue down the bottom half of the table. Teams like Swansea and Southampton used to have an identity of playing attractive despite not having the best squads but both clubs seem to have gone astray. Swansea in particular have been very depressing to watch having gone from lovely triangles to a rubbish Stoke. Even the Potters under Pulis at least had an identity but now they just play the average football that the rest of the bottom two thirds love.
Perhaps Bournemouth stand out as a shinning beacon of being a small team that actually attempt to play nice football and while Burnley’s style is far from attractive they at least have an identity. The mid-table teams of the past – I’m thinking Hughes’ Blackburn, McClaren’s Boro, Curbishley’s Charlton – seemed to actually have an identity rather than the completely interchangeable dross that seems to be on display these days. For example even a fairly likeable team like Brighton. What is Brighton’s style? Functional I guess and that’s part of the problem.
Now at least 10 of the teams in the division just want to stay up and have no real desire to push for a Europa League place. Case in point – Watford. The Hornets change managers constantly but what is really the point? They’ll always be satisfied with 14th and they never seem to be in relegation trouble anyway. What have Watford, and countless other teams, really added to the Premier League this season?
So that is why I’m locking up most of the Premier League’s teams in the football equivalent of Room 101 – Room 433 (same hotel, different floors.) I’m not letting them out until they decide to be interesting again, which could be a while.