independent

Sunday 23 September 2018

Money talks for the EPL teams in Europe

Weird Wide World of Sport

Raheem Sterling of Manchester City keeps his eyes on the ball during their hammering of Basel
Raheem Sterling of Manchester City keeps his eyes on the ball during their hammering of Basel

Dave Devereux

They say money talks, it makes the world go round and that cash is king.

We're told that money can't buy you love or happiness, but in the world of professional football you can certainly purchase lashings and lashings of success.

The filthy lucre being gorged into the hungry mouths in the English Premier League finally looks like reaping rich dividends, with sides from across the water pulling up trees in the Champions League.

Even with the embarrassment of riches, their five-pronged attack still may not be enough to actually win the prestigious tournament, but one thing's for sure, they're in a damned sight better place than they have been for the past few lean, and simply embarrassing, years.

In complete contrast to their recent European woes, Tottenham's rousing fightback to earn a 2-2 draw against Italian kingpins Juventus was not only a shot in the arm for the Londoners but encouraging for the English game as a whole.

Twelve months ago Spurs would have rolled over like a playful kitten and allowed their belly to be tickled but there's more tactical nous and bite to them now, and, for the most part, they controlled the contest against their illustrious opponents and were more than deserving of their creditable draw after what was an enthralling contest.

The other two EPL teams in midweek action got their expected victories, but the manner in which they simply tore their opponents to shreds will have made all with their eyes on the big prize sit up and take notice.

Whether you can read too much into Manchester City and Liverpool's unmerciful hammerings of Basel and Porto respectively is certainly debatable, but in recent times England's elite haven't been capable of swatting this kind of cannon-fodder aside like annoying little insects.

With the suspicion that Juventus are slightly on the wane as each season passes and the lesser lights are falling further and further behind the big guns, Chelsea pitting their wits against the mighty Barcelona should give us a fairer reflection of where the English teams stand in terms of getting back to the top of the European tree.

Time is money, and given the billions that has has been pumped into England's top flight, their time will surely come sooner rather than later.

* Away from the bright lights of the Champions League, it was great to see the return of domestic action, as the SSE Airtricity Premier Division kicked off.

The opening weekend boasted decent attendances, so hopefully that trend will continue and fans of First Division clubs will come out in great numbers as the second tier begins on Friday.

You might not get players of the ilk of those strutting their stuff in the Champions League, but you'd never know, there just might be a future star on show, one that will bloom in front of your eyes.

Plenty that made the grade in the Premier League have cut their teeth in League of Ireland football. Players like Paul McGrath, Roy Keane, Wes Hoolahan, Seamus Coleman, Kevin Doyle, Jeff Kenna, James McClean, Shane Long and Damien Delaney played on these shores before going on to make it in the top flight across the water.

Wouldn't it be great to tell the grandkids in years to come when some, as of yet, unheard of star, runs out on to the hallowed turf of the Aviva to play for Ireland, that you remember when he was only a young fella playing in the R.S.C., Carlisle Grounds or Ferrycarrig Park?

Even if there's no future internationals on show, get out and soak in the atmosphere and enjoy seeing football in front of your own eyes, not far from your doorsep, because nothing beats being there.

You'd never know, you might just enjoy it. In this case, it's not all about the money.

Wexford People

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