As an outsider living in England it is hard to escape the regard the English Premier League is held in. Despite the lower attendances compared to Germany’s Bundesliga, despite the unfathomable skill difference between the top teams in La Liga, despite the new brand of attractive football and fresh money popping up in the Russian and Ukrainian leagues, and despite the massive gulf in class between England’s national side and those of Germany, Italy, and Spain, the EPL rates itself highly.
When you are saturated with enough propaganda, you can believe most things.
Dedicated sports channels deal with all of their news in a sensationalist way. That is fine. It is entertaining and sometimes funny. However, when the tagline of Best League in the World is perpetually used (even in the disparaging way, like, “and we say this is supposed to be the Best League in the World?!”) it burrows in there, like an unwanted image you walked in on.
However, not even the sensationalists buy into such an extreme short-termism. England played Brand Zzzzz of football in the EUROs and although it was stuffy, it was never going to win major competitions.
Gerrard himself is on the wane. Frank Lampard is not long for this league or this national side. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand may be at each other like teenagers, but their playing days are heading for a retirement home. Wayne Rooney needs to rediscover form.
Some pundits have already suggested that firebrand wingers like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott disguise a true lack of strength up front. A glorious goalkeeper, some good wing-backs, some wingers, and Rooney do not win you a World Cup.
More so than this, though, it does not win you a World Cup in the soccer hotbed of Brazil, where serious investment has meant an increase in the production and continued development of Brazil-obsessed influential players.
It is all fine and well that England’s national side are putting up a front of confidence before embarking upon a two-year qualification process. Nevertheless, for a manager renowned for control and reserve, it is surprising that Roy Hodgson has allowed Gerrard to make such a lofty statement, even if it is only hinted at.
After all, if senior players are allowed to even entertain such thoughts before the fact, and players like Rooney are afforded Las Vegas trips and no criticism for performances, it will be an even longer fall should things go off-plan.