Why the Championship's champion
Last week, our Championship Correspondent Emyr Price wrote a thought-provoking blog on the nature of England's second tier.
Emyr's point was that The Championship is so open because of widespread mediocrity. He backs up his argument by looking at how teams promoted to the Premier League have, on the whole, struggled.
But this is, I think, slightly missing the point. The Premier League is a very large step above The Championship because the concentration of wealth therein creates massive talent-heavy squads.
For instance, take Manchester United's team on Tuesday night.
Decidedly second-string and therefore described by pundits as wise as the BBC's chief football writer as "kids," it included two players whose transfer fees cost the thick end of ÃÂ£50 million Ã¢ÂÂ Dimitar Berbatov and Anderson Ã¢ÂÂ plus a host of others who would walk into all bar the best teams, from Vidic to Park to Brown to Neville.
And on the bench sat ÃÂ£16 million Michael Carrick, Zoran Tosic (whose undisclosed fee may end up around the same as Carrick's) and some old blokes called Owen and Giggs. Obviously United are a special case, but their "kids" (sic - Spurs' average age was lower) illustrate the strength in depth of the top squads.
Elevated to this class of competition yet understandably unwilling or unable to spend anything like as much money, promoted clubs are often simply ill-equipped to cope. It's like a rocking bar band being asked to open for Muse at Wembley - without buying a Marshall stack.
None of which means The Championship's anything but a great league. When Colchester got promoted from Division Three a few years back most folks predicted they'd struggle, and they almost made the play-offs. So people predicted more success the following season, and they went down.
Does that make them bad or good? Are we that black and white?
It seems a particularly British thing that we assess unpredictability by denigrating it as widespread weakness rather than an even spread of ability. When the top-flight season started with a glut of goals, pundits moaned about deficient defending.
Only these islands could turn out a pundit like Jim Beglin, who notes every missed chance by blaming the striker and every goal by criticising the defender. Is there nothing to celebrate?
Yes, there are. Open leagues are great things. Imagine how horrible a league would be if the bottom three would be universally predicted to be the three teams freshly promoted. And you knew that, barring a major shock, the top four would remain the same every single season.
Man, that sounds nightmarish.
Gary Parkinson is Editor of FourFourTwo.com
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