Torres and Fabregas lit up Spain’s Euro 2008 campaign
My friend John Carlin offers an interesting take on where the influx of foreign investment into the English Premiership leaves La Liga, the Spanish league long accustomed to being Europe’s finest. Not only are the cream of the world’s players increasingly likely to leave Spain (and Italy) for English clubs these days thanks to the billions pouring into the cofferes of Chelsea, Manchester City and a coterie of other clubs being snapped up as racehorses once would have been by the ultra-rich — Robinho’s move from Real Madrid to City may simply be the beginning; what with Kaka looking increasingly likely to join him there, or at Chelsea, and the likes of Jo and Elano already there, how long will it be before the bulk of the Brazilian national team are playing in England? Even more alarming, to some Spanish fans, will be the fact that the cream of the country’s coaches are increasingly being tempted to England, too: Rafa Benitez at Liverpool; Juande Ramos at Spurs; when West Ham and Newcastle sacked their coaches early in the new season, Spanish coaches were among the frontrunners for both positions. Only Valencia had more players in Spain’s victorious Euro 2008 squad than did Liverpool. Already, three of the most gifted members of that team — Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso — are playing their club football in England; how long before David Villa, David Silvak, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos join them?
As John puts it, the coming reality is one where “next to the Premier League, La Liga will dwindle to the level of, say, the Dutch League. Nice enough football, pretty to watch – and filled with clubs who have next to no chance of winning big European trophies, instead becoming feeder clubs for the English teams.”
Indeed, he points out, the swing of the pendulum of footie power to England may be best reflected by the fact that in Spain now, you can watch the English Premiership on TV, and you don’t even have to have cable; it’s on terrestrial TV!
I think John’s right, of course, but while the development may be traumatic for the fans of Real and Barca, I suspect for the rest — who often had to resign themselves to losing their best players to Real or Barca — making the switch to supporting a “Spanish” club in England won’t be that hard.
There is, after all, less and less that is particularly “English” about the football in the English Premier League. (Hell, even their national team is coached by a catenaccio artist from Italy). England is simply the address, and Spanish fans should take it as a compliment to their football that this huge influx of money that is creating what is essentially a league with a global audience is relying so heavily on Spanish talent and expertise.