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Top 4 Fantasy

By Nick Toye :  30/12/2007 :  Comments (11) :
Since the Premier League began there has always been 2 teams who have dominated. Arsenal and Man Utd. Newcastle came close, Blackburn did win it. Only since Chelsea came into some money has the monopoly been broken. Liverpool have came a close second on only one occassion I believe, but it wasn't really a last day effort.

So why are the top 4 the top 4? Is it because of reputation? Trophies? Money? Players?

Well Liverpool have been successful outside of the Premier League, probably more successful than any of the other 3. Yet only recently have they come into some money, they have not been big spenders like Newcastle or Spurs. Yet they always seem to finish way above them. Their players are not necessarily better than what we have, what Spurs have or what Blackburn have. Yet the media assumes that they will finish in the top 4.

This was never the case in the old First Division. The top 2 were usually certs, but the rest were up for grabs, Norwich finishing 3rd anyone? So I don't think its money, I don't think its strictly players. I think its down to two elements, and these elements are linked:

  1. The Media
  2. Reputation
Today for example Redknapp was talking to Keys about Top 4. Everton, Man City, Spurs, Blackburn, Villa. All capable of breaking through, but I don't think they ever will. Charlie Nicholas last month saying that nobody will break the Top 4 in his lifetime, yet we seemed to manage that feat couple of years back, and Spurs very very nearly managed it themselves.

Perhaps if the Top 4 became the Top 3 and 4th spot was not a CL qualifier, than things may change. Or and this is the key, teams like City, Villa, Spurs, Blackburn and us force the issue and show top 4 teams no respect.

Against Arsenal in the first half we did that. We played better than Liverpool at Goodison twice in two years. In fact in the last three years we have drew at Anfield, beaten Arsenal twice and drew away. Drawing many times at Stamford Bridge. Why? Because we have the belief that we can compete with these teams. I thought City today would have done the same, but playing for a draw at home against a top 4 club is basically admitting that we are not a top 4 club, and have no aspirations to do so.

So in essence the Media are never going to allow another team into the top 4. So the only way in is to force the issue. And you do that by competing with Arsenal, Man U, Liverpool and Chelsea. I thought in large part we did that yesterday, and a couple more players and we can make a real go of it.

Whether or not Sky will allow us into the Grand Slam Sunday bollocks is another matter, but I tell you what, I would rather watch Reading v Spurs than Liverpool v Chelsea.

Reader Comments

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Andrew Birtles
1   Posted 30/12/2007 at 20:02:58

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Eh?
I'm not sure I understand the point you are trying to make.
The ?top four? are the ?top four? because they are the ?4? clubs that, by and large, have finished in the ?top four? places of the Premier League for the past decade or so.
In addition, I think we were the last club to win the FA Cup outside of the ?top four? and also to break in to the Premiership ?top four?.
If it was only ever two clubs that rotated between winners and runners up then no doubt the media would have adopted the phrase ?top two? and ?top three? if this was extended to a third club.
What this has to do with anything is beyond me.
Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool don't occupy the ?top four? placings every season (give or take one ?blip?) simply because of reputation and because the National Press choose so!! They do so because they have better teams, better players than the rest of the league!!!
The goal of every other team is to break this mould and compete regularly year in year out with this ?top four?. Until this happens then Im afraid you will need to get used to hearing about the ?top four? for some while longer.
Nick Toye
2   Posted 30/12/2007 at 20:26:39

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So you don’t think the media hype up the top 4?

Today Man City had a team to beat Liverpool and move into 4th spot, but they decided to go for a point. Why?

There is also the favourable decisions that the top 4 get. Do they get that because they have better players? Or do they get that because if reputation and media hype?

There is a website somewhere that shows how the table would look if all decisions that were proven to be wrong were reversed. Makes interesting reading. Not sure what the link is though.

Scott McKinney
3   Posted 30/12/2007 at 20:50:15

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Nick, the website is
www.rightresult.net

One thing I will say about being in the top 4 is that it somewhat self-preserving. Over here in the US, anytime you watch Fox Soccer it is either Arsenal, ManU, or Chelsea whose teams are hyped in commercials, in links to club gear, etc. The foreign money is practically funnelled to the big guys. That’s a lot of extra cash going to their coffers. You wont see EFC, Villa, much less a Blackburn fronting any of these commercial links.

Yes, they are the headliner clubs but something has to change. I think for the preservation of the PL, something will have to change about revenue sharing for the sake of the league. That way you can still market the headline teams but not to the exclusive detriment of the others. The league must come first. But sadly, it doesn’t and it may never.

The healthiest professional league in the US is the NFL (American football). Is it a coincidence that this is the league that has the most fair rules in sharing revenue? The NFL is strongly protective of the NFL brand and the well being of the league comes ahead of individual teams.

Sadly, in MLB (baseball) revenue fairness does not prevail. For the most part, there are only a handfull of teams that can compete for championships each year base on pure riches. The rest have to compete through cunning decisions and catching lightning in a bottle. Sound familiar?
Nick Toye
4   Posted 30/12/2007 at 21:10:46

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@Scott,

Spot on mate, it is self-preserving, but it is so because everyone is led to believe these are the top 4 clubs and that’s it. Nobody at Sky cares a jot about anyone else. Just imagine if Liverpool dropped out of the top 4 for two seasons?

What would happen? Well I still think they would still consider them top 4.

I actually believe it is the pressure that the Media and Sky in particular put on the league that has led to City believing that a point at home is a bloody good result. City have the players to beat Liverpool.

I mean Derby went within seconds of getting a point, so why didn’t City look at beating them comfortably?

Our game yesterday, we played the football, they played the long ball. They were lucky, had the ref on their side and we made a mistake and were left chasing the game. But we still pressed and still had most possession.

The only time I saw Fabregas was when he was picking himself off the floor. Bit of composure from Neville and Yakubu and the game could have been sewn up in the first half. For me, the gulf is not like it was.

Even when Liverpool had a relatively average side under Houllier, they were still deemed to be a top 4 side, and yes they finished top 4, but I believe that its reputation that earns them respect from other clubs, whereas they should be trying to take advantage.

But self-preserving - spot on.
Alex Carew
5   Posted 31/12/2007 at 07:28:16

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I must say, I have to agree to a certain extent. The media coverage helps out the so called big four as the officials, FA are scared to make an incorrect decision. Too many incorrect decisions would just lead to the so called bigger teams with more money forcing the option for a European Super league and that is why the FA are scared. Are they better than the rest, well of course they are - its hard to disagree but the occasional decision does help out, it doesnt take a lot to make a big difference. Also, the press show you what the general public want to see. Why do the papers show the top 6 in their little caption when Liverpool are 6th but the top 5 when Everton are 6th. Even look at the link above, why are Liverpool highlighted because they are 7th, any reason? If Everton were 3rd the papers would show the top 2. The media worldwide is similar leading to some people not even knowing who Everton are, even though they have done so well the last few years. I live in Australia now and all you ever see on the sports news is Kewells revival, how good he was in training, his return 5 minutes and yet Cahill hardly ever gets mentioned - a disgrace! Change the press, change the salaries and change the rules and let everyone have a chance.
Nick Toye
6   Posted 31/12/2007 at 13:50:02

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@Alex,

That’s interesting about the top 5/top 6 masking. Also Cahill and Kewell. Cahill has hit 9 goals this season, what the hell has Kewell done? In fact what the hell has Kewell done since he left Leeds, not very much. His wife has been more successful then he has.


Lee Spargo
7   Posted 31/12/2007 at 15:35:14

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The answer here, is to look at the questions in the second paragraph of this article.

The answer to all four = YES

End of.
Dave Reiner
8   Posted 31/12/2007 at 21:55:02

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Maybe a lot of it is confidence. It looked to me in that 2nd half that our boys didn’t really expect to win, theirs did, & it became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. They surely didn’t outplay us for any long stretches of game, only at crucial, decisive instances (which I associate with confidence, & derive ability from watching the game/season as a whole). I think the gap in class on the pitch is smaller than people think, especially when these ’big’ clubs pick up rashes of injuries/suspensions/ANC departures.
I’m sure the media plays its part too, it can’t do the ’big 4’ players’ confidence much harm to be told constantly how great they are. Also, playing in a massive, filled to capacity, intimidating ground can’t hurt. Compare our proposed ground’s capacity to OT, the Emirates or the proposed New Analfield. When capacity figures for our project rivaling the aforementioned stadia were mentioned, derision soon followed. While granted, much of the scorn was due to that large a facility IN THAT PARTICULAR LOCATION, it could be construed as a self-fulfilling prophecy as well (we’ll never have that many supporters, it’ll be the new Riverside, so on, so forth).
Goodnight, off to NYC for a night of casual (binge) drinking, then up early tomorrow to catch the heavily pixelated Toffees on Setanta Broadband (was that Johnson?? Carsley??? Gravesen???). Happy New Year to all from the USA, COYB!!!
Chris McMahon
9   Posted 01/01/2008 at 15:32:11

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Rather watch Setanta than Sky.
George Stuart
10   Posted 01/01/2008 at 22:40:05

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The unassailable top 4?

I was thinking about this the other day.
Man U spent the whole of the 1970?s an 80?s as the wealthiest English club and though they managed quite a few FA cup wins, never really looked like champions. The key factor in the change was Fergusson and his opportunity to take time to get it right.


He HAS to be off in a few years time. Change over trauma? Ask Wilf McGuinness. So they could be the richest club again without titles. Ok the difference now between what they can spend and what the aspiring top 4 pretenders can spend is much bigger. But hope springs eternal.

Anyway I have been thinking recently about promoting the notion of a New Big Five. Everton are a team on the up and up. Brand new stadium, youthful long term manager, and a league cup, FA cup , Uefa Cup treble in 2008. A team to watch
Geoff Williams
11   Posted 02/01/2008 at 11:23:28

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The top 4 are the big 4 because they are the rich 4 in an age when money is more important than ever before in British football. To believe otherwise is living in denial. I travel the world a lot and almost everywhere you go you see loads of people wearing Liverpool and Man U shirts with a fair sprinkling of Arsenal and Chelsea shirts mixed in. They have become global marketing machines that rake in vast amounts of cash which just adds to the vast wealth they rake in from the Premier League and Champions League. The rest simply can?t compete and this situation will continue until somebody stands up to the rich 4 and changes the way the Champions League operates and the way money is allocated for the Premier League.

Unfortunately the G14 clubs are too powerful and won?t allow the rules for the Champions League to change whilst the rest of the Premier League are too scared to rock the boat at a time when they have big attendances and make a fair wack of cash themselves from television. It will change in the end, all things do, but only when people stop turning up like lemmings week in week out to pay extortionate admission fees for the very predictable premier league.

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