Why there still isn’t enough competition at the top of the Premier League:

Image for Why there still isn’t enough competition at the top of the Premier League:

In the 2010-2011 campaign Manchester City broke the tripartite cauldron that has mainly consisted of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool since the 1998/1999 season. Apart from a couple of exceptions for a season each – Leeds United in 2000 and Newcastle United in 2003 – they are the four clubs that have consistently finished in the top three. The positions may have changed hands each campaign, but it has been more or less the very same teams occupying those spots every season. Alex Ferguson’s United side’s have been in its vicinity for twenty seasons on the trot dating back to the 1991/1992 campaign! The number of clubs that have broken into this triad since 1999 has declined in comparison to the decades since the post-war period.

There were only six different clubs that finished in the top-three in the 2000’s compared to thirteen in the 1990’s, 1980’s, 1970’s, twelve in the 1960’s and eleven in the 1950’s. The teams finishing in one of these privileged positions were so much more varied in these decades. Take a look at some examples from the 1990’s. In the first five season’s, starting from 1989/1990, only Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester United featured more than once – the team from Merseyside finished as champions and runners-up in 1989/1990 and 1990/1991 respectively, Villa were runners up in both 1989/1990 and 1992/1993 whilst United came second in 1991/1992 and then top of the pile in the two campaigns preceding that.

All the other clubs that managed to break into the top three from 1990 to 1994 did so only once. They are as follows: Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers. A far more varied array of teams than the ones from the previous decade I’m sure you’ll agree.

There was no seasoned ‘big four’ that were consistently at the top challenging for the league championship around this time or the decades before them, but why has the competition for the title or at least a place in the top three dwindled so significantly?

One of the reasons may be that teams can rarely gel with each other as a different man comes in with new ideas an average of every twelve to eighteen months unlike in days gone by when managers were given more time to get to know their team and incorporate a style that best suits the players that they have at their disposal. Another factor may be money. Despite what many people say, I think it’s a good thing that City have broken the mould as it’s refreshing to see a new name near the top of the table just like it was a pleasure to see Tottenham, who even though not quite breaking into the top three, managed to edge themselves into the top four bringing with it Champions League football last year.

These two examples have given everyone a kick up the backside at a time when it was becoming a bit stale at the top. I’m not so keen on teams becoming a billionaire’s toy, but there’s no doubt that their ascensions are breathing new life into other clubs as well as themselves; just look at the way that City’s neighbours United have splashed out this summer; they know that not only do they have to fight off Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs, but they also have to contend with Roberto Mancini’s City side who are arguably one of the biggest danger’s to Ferguson’s men and who will surely attempt to rebuild year after year in striving to get bigger and better.

Click HERE to head to PAGE TWO…

Share this article


  • Chambers says:

    The age of “the big four” has gone. The title race has become broader with each passing season.

  • magnumopus says:

    4 is now 6…


    On one hand Man City are being made out to be a new boil on the bottom of the Premiership and football as a whole. With FIFA doing their utmost to protect the clubs at the top from the intruder. And on the other hand you are pointing out that due to Man Utds past wealth (Floating on the stock exchange in the early 90s) they ended two decades of league failure with two decades of league monopoly. You can’t have it BOTH ways!


    Why use Toure as a comparison for silly wages? Why not compare to Rooney who is the Premierships top earner? You see it’s these sort of loaded comments that really stick in the neck of City fans. Its much easier and convenient to sweep the truth about Rooney and Man Utd’s 20 years of MASSIVE SPENDING under the carpet and pretend that they actually only ever had home grown players who played for nothing. Lets not allow the truth get in the way of a good story hey? Carry on the City bashing, after watching 3rd tier football not so long ago we just don’t care.

    • Ricky Murray says:

      To reply to both comments: I didn’t mention anything about Man Utd’s past wealth. In any case, their wealth was generated much by the people at the club themselves. Their size and stature within the game goes back to the days of Matt Busby when United were the first English side to compete in the European Cup, which meant they were able to spread their horizons to other places as far away as Asia where they have a massive following. That’s how they AND Liverpool did it.

      I wrote in the article that it’s refreshing to see another team competing at the top like City are. I was sticking up for them. BUT it has to be said that while United and Liverpool have built up their wealth, firstly getting a great side together, winning titles which in turn made them famous and able to sell merchandise and the like all over the world, City and Chelsea have had handed to them on a plate by rich billionaires. Would you agree with that?

  • Danny Salford Red says:

    Massive spending eh Darren? And the article is deflecting away from that? Why let facts get in the way of a good yarn mate. Follow this link. Then shut your mouth. 1/2 a BILLION pounds youve spent


    Danny. Oh no your not another one who thinks you can compare money spent in 1992 with money spent in 2011. Ask your self this mate. Who spent the most in 1992, who in 1993, who in 1994 etc up to the present day. You’ll find Man Utd outspent everyone else EVERY YEAR for all but a couple of years in twenty……. Now you shut your mouth. I bet you are one of those who thinks that because you pay council tax over ten months, this means that you get two months free aren’t you? Darwin was only half right in your case, some people never quite managed evolution.

  • Danny Salford Red says:

    Ha ha ha now that is rich my friend bringing Darwin and evolution into it when i have just presented you with cold hard facts and your response was a frankly p*ss weak retort followed by an insult. Id love to get into a battle of wits with you pal but i find it highly unsporting fighting unarmed opponents, so regards 🙂

    • DARREN GILMORE says:

      Danny, your cold hard facts rely on putting together all money spent over twenty years and adding it together to get a final figure which you use to prove your point. My point is you can’t just add the money spent in 1990 to money spent in 2011, because the true value of both is very different. Surely you can see that. Now remind me again, who spent the most in 1993, who in 1994, who in 1995 etc up until the present day. This way the real cold hard facts will be there for all to see and not just muddied with misguided statistics.

  • Je Shed says:

    In the mid 90’s Sky pumped just shy of £750 million pounds into Manchester United. Rich individual or rich corperation? To me the two are the same. Except that in this case the organisation investing also held the rights to broadcast it’s merchandise all over the world.

    Conflict of intrests? The Monopolies Commision certainly thought so when Murdoch tried to invest a further £1 billion to buy the club outright. They blocked the move. Quite why it was acceptible to own a sizeable percentage in the first place in anyones guess.

    You are only fooling yourselves if you beleive Manchester United’s dominance has been without any investment from outside the club. As I said, what’s the difference between Abramovich and Murdoch and the end of the day?

Comments are closed.