For the first time in European football, clubs from one country featured in the continent’s two major competitions. Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final, while Chelsea won the Europa League, beating Arsenal. The English Premier League proved its on-pitch dominance, along with its supremacy in the game’s money league. The two are correlated. The Deloitte Football Money League for 2017-18 has six English clubs in the list of top 10. The Uefa’s Benchmark Report for the year 2017 showed how the Premier League’s aggregate revenue, north of £4.77 billion, dwarfed its nearest rival, Li Liga’s £2.56 billion. The record £8.4 billion TV deals give the Premier League its pulling power and competitive edge. It’s a result of aggressive global marketing, where the Premier League has trumped its European counterparts.
Because of its popularity and financial might, English top-flight football can woo the world’s finest coaches and expensive players. Three coaches — Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino — have given English football a facelift. Guardiola has made the biggest impact. His style and philosophy, his occasional use of the Libero in a 4-3-3 formation, have inspired a revolution right down to the age-group levels. Two years ago, the England colts claimed the Fifa U-17 and U-20 World Cup titles, while the U-19s annexed the European U-19 Championship. The England senior team under Gareth Southgate reached the semifinal in the 2018 Russia World Cup. At St George’s Park, the FA headquarters, they have taken a leaf out of Guardiola’s book. The hurly-burly long ball is now dead and buried. Creativity and entertainment have become the buzzwords.
The Premier League has the world’s most expensive goalkeeper in Kepa Arrizabalaga (£71.6 million) at Chelsea. It has the world’s costliest defender in Virgil van Dijk (£75 million) at Liverpool. But English football is still bereft of a player like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.