Our top 2 are also Europe’s best

Published: Monday, 03 June 2019

So now we know. The top 2 clubs in England are also the best in Europe. And by some distance.

The only debate left is which of the two of them is No.1? I don’t have an answer to that. There’s a strong case for both.

What City did this season was sensational. Never before had a team won all three domestic trophies - and but for a VAR mistake in the 2nd leg of their CL 1/4 final against Spurs - who knows - they could’ve gone on and made it four.

That’s why we always judge a team by what it does in the league. It’s a much fairer way to assess - across a ‘marathon’ and not a short Cup ‘sprint’. Winning a Cup competition often involves a huge chunk of luck - good fortune that United had in Paris for example. That Spurs had in Amsterdam. That Liverpool had against Barcelona. To win a title takes consistency across the best part of nine months and 38 games. But Liverpool had that this season too. How can you lose just one league game - pick up 97 points and yet still not win the title? Because City were one point better - that’s all. How often do we talk about tiny margins in football?

Over the last third, time and again Liverpool asked a question of City. Every time they responded. It was an incredible run-in. City still had enough left in the tank to go and spank Watford - only to see Liverpool top that and win in Madrid. The two of them - incredible teams.

Every time Klopp’s response was ‘I’ll see you - and raise you’.

I know winning the title is the benchmark - I’ve just said that - but do you know what - I’ve got a sneaky feeling Guardiola would’ve given it up to win the CL. And for sure Klopp would swap.

Why do I say that? Because Guardiola knows that he’s consistently failed in Europe since leaving Barcelona. Or to put that another way - he’s failed to win the CL without Messi. That irritates him.

We don’t know how long he’ll stay at City. It wouldn’t surprise me if next season was his last. Unlike the time I knew he’d take the job and said so 18 months before he did - I have no knowledge to support that thought. It’s just a hunch. If I’m right - he’ll definitely want to win it next season and if he does - what else is there to achieve at City?

I know any kind of Liverpool success is hard to swallow for the neutrals. I get it. It’s not because we don’t like Klopp or we don’t admire his team - we do. I’d rather watch them play their ‘rock and roll’ football any day of the week than City’s ‘precision’ game. So it’s a question for their supporters - why is there this deep dislike of Liverpool? It’s a wonderful club, with a fabulous history.

Let me put it like this. I remember an era when every opposition ‘keeper would be roundly applauded at The Kop End. I watched a YouTube video recently in which Don Revie was gushing in his praise of Anfield in general. This was after a Monday night goalless draw at Liverpool - a result that secured his Leeds team the title, Billy Bremner and his mates edged towards The Kop on the final whistle - to be greeted with the raucous cry of ‘Champions....Champions’. Liverpool finished that season second. Class. Absolute class. I couldn’t see that kind of thing happening today. It’s a shame. I’ve been a victim of modern day Liverpool fans’ vicious trolling - and doubtless I will be again for having the temerity to point this out.

Anyway, let alone the rest of the PL, what can Europe’s best now do to stop the English dominance? Let’s not forget that the Europe League final was also fought out between two English teams.

My guess is that they will get their way with a re-vamped CL. It’s the Juve Chairman Andrea Agnelli who’s proposing a ‘pyramidal Pan European League System’ that includes promotion and relegation - the latter only for the few. The big boys would be protected. They’ll win this battle with UEFA.

And how long before these games are being played on a Friday night all over the world? ‘Globalisation’ is coming. Believe me. We’ll be watching Real v United in New York as City play against Juve in Beijing. It’ll be Milan v Bayern in Doha. PSG v Liverpool in Delhi. Trust me - it’s coming. American owners of PL clubs will see the sense in this. So too the Chinese. And City’s Arab masters.

There’s no more TV money for PL clubs under the current structure. Playing in front of your ‘fans’ all round the world is a very good way of expanding the market. And charge what - £9.99 let’s say - pay per view? Imagine the revenues then, with the competition in the hands of one broadcaster. It’s a giant leap from Richard Scudamore’s 39th game, but every big league has got a version of that now - except the PL. Looking back, how right was Scudamore?

It won’t happen at the next round of negotiations - but a format like this, or similar, won’t be far away. In my view - it’ll happen certainly within the next decade. Before you dismiss the idea entirely, never underestimate the modern day football club owner. None of them is in it to make losses. And who would’ve ever thought we’d see our game refereed by tv technicians in slow-mo? That’s what we’ll be watching next season.