Obviously – as with all seasons – we could have the greatest season, but are the chances of quite something magnificent in 2013/14 altogether higher? Clearly, this depends greatly on what people may consider to be the ‘greatest’ season and what it requires to be a great season, as if it is competitiveness that you want most of all, then the 2011/12 season will take quite some beating with Manchester City’s league win on goal difference. Despite this, there has been an accepted drop in quality of the Barclays Premier League over the last three years or so that has threatened to change in the summer of 2013.
The greatest season would really need a combination of quality – in comparison to Europe generally – and fierce competition that has been experienced in other years, but the recent slip in overall European performance of English clubs and their success in the Champions League has been clear to see, the question is whether that is about to change. As an influx of new managers and turmoil for many clubs in the league over the summer has continued with big names being continuously linked with moves away and missing out on transfer targets, it seems an odd time to suggest such a strong campaign of English football.
With an unprecedented number of clubs changing their managers, and many sides; Southampton, Norwich and Stoke in particular, showing new found ambition, there is fuel for what could be a far more competitive league with the ‘bigger’ clubs all looking to rebuild. The question will still be whether we can see an increase in the quality of football in the Premier League that can then be matched by some of the great excitement from 2011/12, with not only the most dramatic climax of all time but also some big games with lots of goals.
It’s usually been clearer that the league is at a stronger point with high points scoring and solid defences like the ‘Invincibles’ and Mourinho’s early Chelsea years where the gap between the top and middle table was particularly exaggerated. There is an argument to say there is a difficulty in having the best season of quality and competitiveness, that there has to be a balance of both elements to create the ‘greatest’ season of all time that some have hinted at. With the expansion of a few lower table sides and the ambitious newly-promoted sides that have been showing drive to push themselves up the table – shown in Cardiff’s big money signing of the highly promising Andreas Cornelius, trying to guess each team’s table position this season looks to be harder than ever.
In reality, this season promises a great deal from all but the real changing in quality looks unlikely and that makes the chances of a return to any kind of promise and impressive football from the sides in the Champions League is unlikely. Until the league reaches a higher point in quality and defensive play the top sides will not succeed in the highest competition of them all; as without that regular practice they just don’t make the grade against the top Spanish sides and German sides.
Promising, Intriguing and Exciting; ultimately lacking some quality around many of the biggest clubs and mid-table sides may begin to close the gap further as there is no longer much to pick between the top five.