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Thursday Milan Musings, EPL vs. Serie A

I wasn’t going to post today but after reading all the EPL vs. Seria A comments so masterfully argued I wanted to hop in with my thoughts and raise a few points to maybe continue an excellent discussion.

I do want to say something right off the bat, in terms of styles of play Serie A is still king in my book. The ball movement, the intelligent play, the chess type tactics are all things that are still lacking in the EPL. Even though the success was in the hands of the EPL this year on the pitch I do believe that Italian teams will win the majority of games more often than not against the likes of the EPL’s big four. The reason I believe this is purely tactical Chelsea, Pool, Arsenal, and Man U for the most part play their game, they may change personnel or even formations but their style is readily known and once digested can be counter acted fairly well. You can see this plain as day when they play each other to nil-nil draws time and again in the EPL because they can counter act each other, but Italian teams are versatile and can really challenge you both on mentally and physically and exposing weak parts of the squad and emphasizes strengths on their side. The best example of this being Milan losing to Man U but neutralizing CRon and playing behind their generally attacking midfield to get the win in the CL semifinals. Do you thing Alex Ferguson brought in Hargreaves because of his attacking ability, no he brought him in because the need for a destroying type midfielder to replace Scholes was very apparent against Milan.

Off the pitch however, is a different story between the EPL and the Serie A, and the biggest different is revenue. The EPL is not the biggest money making league in the world, but their ability to generate revenue not only in the packed stadiums but through TV deals and marketing of clubs is second to none. The FA/EPL is a well oiled money making machine and their ability to put a palatable product in a ton of homes is very helpful in terms of making money.

The most prominent thing was mentioned by JP, and that is the English language, which is readily spoken making the EPL an attractive game. For me the EPL is also a plus for many fans across the world because their players are well represented in this league from Africa and so on, making them fan friendly across the globe. Those TV deals that also work their way into so many homes, is supplemented by a live product which in England generates far more revenue for clubs than it does in Italy. In fact the TV deals even entice viewers to go to a live match by making it harder to watch your team at your home if you are in the area of the stadium with blackouts and so on, almost forcing you to the pitch.

With variables like these it is hard to argue that the EPL is in the business of making money and their clubs are benefiting from it. We are embarking on an era where the EPL big four are dictating the transfer market and that makes things harder for every other league. Serie A had their day in that regard and did well selling and buying players for large sums such as Henry, Zidane, Ronaldo, and Veron. When Man U can stave off an 60M bid for CRon and retain his skills and marketability it just shows that right now they are at the top when it comes to clout and power.

I respect Chelsea and have always enjoyed rooting for them in the EPL but their reckless purchases of whoever they see fit is not all that good for the game. If they do buy both Robinho and Arshavin they will have roster containing almost two teams of superstars meaning that these players are not available to other teams, and their values are overinflated if they ever want to actually leave Chelsea for some formidable playing time.

This whole EPL holding the cards theory really scares me because unless something changes, and I have no idea what that can be, then EPL will continue to dictate the market and other leagues will only fight for players that were not gobbled up, or worse fight to hang onto their talent and bankrupt their accounts to pay wages similar to the EPL. It really becomes a vicious cycle because if you have a player, X, and Chelsea wants him, you can value him as high as 40M and they will pay it. Sure you will make a buck to sell him, but you have just totally ruined the entire transfer market system by overvaluing a player that may have been worth 20M, but because Chelsea can pay the value doubled.

I don’t really see a quick fix for this, unless EPL teams do terribly in the all competitions. This would help show them that money and players does not equal success and force them into a more legitimate system of growth and transfer to make competitive teams, and not mercenaries. But this is hard pressed to happen and only time can dictate how all this shakes out. Serie A/FIGC can start things off though and increase the competitive nature of Serie A and making a more attractive product for fans in the country and out. We all love Milan and in turn enjoy Serie A, but ask yourself why, and then figure out how to get that reason into the minds of many others.

I don’t think Serie A is shot or lost, they just need to get back into a place to compete as strong product against the other leagues in the world, and believe it will come, it always does these things are cyclical, but until then teams like Milan need to find a way to compete. This may mean running some debt, or keeping players that are younger, or that help stabilize the team instead of promising superstars to bolster the squad.

Had Milan kept Gila many of use may have been a bit confused, but ultimately they would not have had a striker crisis this season and may actually had a semblance of team unity. Instead we are being embarrassed by the likes of Arsenal and Barca who are out of our league in the Adebayor race, and getting led on and on by a overweight, out of form, former world player of the year. THIS IS MILAN, it’s not some shitty ass club and Fester needs to remember that he can still throw his weight around and discover some talent like he has done in the past. This is not impossible and if it means taking a chance on player X, than so be it, I would much rather support a team that is trying, than a team that remains complacent in their unsuccessful ways.