What ails the Premier League
The Premier League season is over. For fans of the league, it is time to look forward to next season.
History will mark this year as one of more misses than hits. While Manchester City created history, others like Arsenal, Newcastle and Brighton achieved remarkable success. The shine wears off as the other clubs get discussed.
Elite clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea struggled, and league regulars like Everton and Leicester spent their entire campaign fighting the drop.
Leicester, the fairy tale of the Premier League in 2016, dropped into the Championship with Leeds United and Southampton joining them. There have been more teams battling the drop than the ones chasing the top slots.
Many engaging and brilliant performances have enhanced the standard of the Premier League. But they also hide the troughs the league hit, both on and off the field. Even as the brilliance of players like Haaland, Saka, Kane and De Bruyne have brought joy to the fans, it is the smudges in the footballing picture that needs discussion.
Here is a look at what went awry with the season this year.
Refereeing: Needs consistency and Authority
VAR, while having the capability to reduce human errors on the field, is suffering from growing pains. On many occasions it has been able to spot an error and correct it. But, as it always is, it is the ones where it erred that caused all the furor. In a few instances, it seemed like the human error on the field gets transferred to the video room. Despite all the technology, some of the mistakes have been glaring.
Increasing aggression on the field seems to be a new trend and needs tackling. The referees and the Association need to put their act together. The referees will need to backed to be firm while dealing with the aggressive player behavior
Player Behavior: Premier League has a new problem
The rough and tumble of any professional sport creates pressure on the players. In the modern game, with the need to perform day in and day out, the need to win is almost a visceral hunger. The year’s campaign has thrown up the effect of these pressures. Players on the field have now become more aggressive and the referees seem to be taking the brunt of it.
The players on the field contest every decision. The managers encourage them with their antics in their technical areas. The referees get crowded, hustled and shouted at by the team at the receiving end of the decision.
The game has become an ugly spectacle with brawls breaking out at the smallest of slights. Casemiro, Mitrovic, amongst others, have been rather responsible for some of these scenes. Brentford’s Ivan Toney managed to self-ignite, with his betting scandal involvement.
The managers have been guilty of poor behavior with many warned, criticized and carded. When the supposed guardian plays truant it is expected the wards would follow. A strong hand from the Football Association is the need of the hour.
Time wasting: A new tactic?
Most of the teams have managed to make an art out of time wasting. It gets disguised as game management by the analysts. Sideline throws gets delayed, balls kicked away in dead ball situations and, too often, players collapse at the slightest touch to ensure the rhythm of the game breaks.
If football was a beautiful fountain with a fine mist, it has now been reduced to a stuttering garden spout.
The powers that control the Premier League have a repair job on their hands. One which will need ingenuity, forcefulness and a lot of smart thinking. The glossy paint has wrinkled and risks peeling off exposing the ugliness that hides beneath.
It needs to be done , and done now and here for the sake of the beautiful sport.