The World Cup is over and done with for England. Another four years, another failure. Nothing new in that but this time the ramifications could be far more serious because it could have a negative impact on both the Premier League and its clubs – including Manchester United. The fans that have built up the league into what it is today are beginning to look through the veneer and they don’t like what they see. They don’t like a dressing room culture which has produced overrated, overpaid and over pampered prima donnas who are seemingly divorced from reality.
England’s feeble effort against Germany was simply the latest in a long line of World Cup failures but contrary to previous ones, there has been a different edge to the reaction. For the first time, beneath the usual alcohol fuelled haze of England fans on tour, there has emerged a feeling of animosity and a whole lot of anger. They are not happy ”We’re the best fans in the world, we’ve spent a fortune getting here and what do we get from the lads? Absolutely nothing, they didn’t even bother to come over and thank us for our support.”
One foreign journalist correctly noted that “Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, they are massive names but have proven to be mere mortals. Oezil, Mueller, Khedira, Boateng are relative unknowns by comparison, but shown to be fabulous talents. The contrast was striking, the result humiliating. There were many reasons for it. Tactical, technical, physical, England were second best in every department. The fans could handle all that but only on the condition that the ”Three Lions” went down fighting. What they got was a meek surrender instead.
This was not only about England versus Germany. This was the Premier League versus the Bundesliga, hype versus reality. And the fans that have made the league what it is are starting to see it in a different light. The Premier League has lost its luster and will now have to brace itself for the backlash. For 20 years it has been funded by the holy trinity of subscription television, ticket sales and merchandise but lately there have been signs of consumer fatigue.
Last season Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to go bankrupt. Ratings and crowds remain strong but there are concerns that they have peaked and now, an England team comprised entirely of EPL players has failed miserably at the World Cup. In the wake, there are signs that the generation of fans who have effectively bankrolled the league have had enough.
The 2010-11 season which kicks off next month will be a litmus test of its popularity. There will be frenzied transfer activity now that England has been knocked out of the World Cup in order to feed the publicity machine. Don’t be surprised if Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller or Sami Khedira, get an offer they’ll find hard to refuse. If you can’t beat them, buy them.
That’s the tried and proven policy which has worked in the past. Will it continue to work or has the bubble burst? Measures are being put into place in order to spread the available talent around the globe. Financial pressures are building which are likely to restrict the spending power of English clubs and then there’s the greatest indicator of them all. What happens on the field. Of the 184 players still involved in the World Cup at this stage, less than 10 per cent play in England. The true worth of the Premier League has been laid bare.
Will England’s failure at the World Cup have a negative effect on the Premier League?