The times, they are a-changing

By Fran Mitchell 02/02/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

Much talk has been of our 'missed chance'. This season has seen the establishment rocked by previous minnows, with clubs like Stoke, Watford, West Ham and Spurs all surpassing expectations, signing top quality players and, most importantly, not losing said players in January.

That's without even mentioning Leicester, quite unbelievably top of the pile in February.

In seasons gone by, the likes of Ighalo, Arnautovic, Butland, Mané, Vardy, Mahrez, Kane and many more would have been picked up, leaving a high-flying team all of a sudden lose one of their wings. This season has been different, the influx of Sky money has changed things. As Everton were able to resist bids for Stones in July/August, other teams have a similar stronghold over their stars.

The Premier League era has been marked, more than anything, by monopoly. While in decades before, those at the top would continuously rotate, the premier league bacame static. Man Utd at the top, Arsenal and Liverpool around them (occasionally, yet fleetingly, flirted by the likes of Newcastle, Leeds and Blackburn). Then the monopoly expanded to included the Roubles of Chelsea and later on the Dirhams of Man City. A closed shop, the Sky-4 (5 including our media darling neighbours).

Our only hope was maybe a cup run, or maybe one of those fleeting moments in the top 4. We accustomed ourselves to mediocrity. The Premier League also-rans, much like societies middle classes, we knew we'd be at the top so contented ourselves (depite holiding a silent resentment) with not being at the bottom.

Yet now we see a top 4 with 2 new additions, the Roubles of Chelsea lie in 12th, Man Utd appear lost; dumfounded at not being the feared beast of the past, struggling to adapt to new times, and Liverpool as well, 'next year is the year' has taken over from 'you'll never walk alone' as the club's slogan.

City look in good stead, especially with Guardiola coming next season and a limitless well of cash, but despite all their spending they remain 3rd this season. Afterall, what can an extra £150m bring them that the previous £500m couldn't?

In the meantime, the also-rans have cash to spend.

What's to stop Stoke, for example, from competing with Man Utd? Fan base is now less important, Sky money is what matters. Stoke currently have 4-5 top quality players, and yesterday added a £20m midfielder. Utd on the other hand, apart from say De Gea, Martial and Smalling, look rather flat. Chelsea too, Oscar, Hazard, Courtois, Matic, Willian and that's about it really. So essentially, most teams have 4-6 really top players, meaning most teams can beat most teams, it does very much depend on who turns up on the day.

Is this season a blip? Will next season see a return to the norm, or will we see more and more of this?

This may seem too general, I have barely mention Everton. The question that lingers, is, have we missed the boat? Was this season the golden opportunity, or was it the makings of a new footballing dawn? Will we return to the days of 'anyone can win it?' Has football's savage capitalism finally brought about the equality and meritocracy Adam Smith dreamed of (for the top 20 premier league teams at least - what this will mean for the football league, and it's survival, is a whole other matter)?

Nothing is certain, of course, and this season has been a damning indictment of the current management set-up of Everton football club, but is their something positive to take from the current predicament? Has winning the league gone from being a ridiculous dream to a acute possibility (Come on Leicester, by the way)? Or will the Sky-gods a be do something to keep the monopoly happy?

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