Friday, May 15, 2009

Life is hell outside the EPL top Four

"Purgatory's kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren't really shit, but you weren't all that great either. Like Tottenham."

This quote is from the very funny 2008 film In Bruges.

After watching Aston Villa lose to Fulham away 3-1 at the weekend the above quote came in to my head.

Let’s be honest; if you don’t support a team in the top four of the English Premier League then like the above quote; your team isn’t really shit or that great either.

Your team is like Aston Villa who has given up the comfortable lifestyle of mid-table mediocrity for challenging for European spots.

Yet this season after qualifying for the Uefa cup, Villa fielded a weakened side when they played CSKA Moscow, the Villa manger left eight first team regulars at home for this match. The small size of the Villa squad then saw the Birmingham’s side get unceremoniously dumped out of the cup during the last 32 tie.

Perhaps from that all encompassing view of hindsight, that was the wrong decision to make.
Buying Emile Heskey from Wigan is surely not going to go down as one of the buys of the season when with 12 games to go Villa where six points ahead of Arsenal and very close to Chelsea who were leading at the time.

Is coming fifth in the EPL better than winning the Europa league? It appears it’s too hard to do both.

The top four have a mortgage on the Premier league title. Mortgage literally means death contract.

Morbidly you can say that your chances of watching your team win the title before you die is slim.

So with no chance of your team winning the title, what about other glory like cup competitions for instance?

The Uefa cup is soon to be replaced by the Europa cup is a competition that can feature mid-table teams and fluky cup winners or runner up of cup competitions.

In a guardian interview Villa manger Martin O’Neil still was not convinced:

“There are too many games," said O'Neill.

If Villa is to win the Europa league then that is 17 fixtures they have to play.

Even with European glory on the line Premier League managers have one eye to the EPL, in the past this would not happened.

Aston Villa is not on their lonesome, when it comes to teams that aren’t shit but not that great either.They are in fine company with Everton who without Tim Cahill playing, the toffees can make football look very difficult to play at times.

Tottenham also are in the purgatory group as well, however they do treat their fans to a yearly league cup runners up trophy.

Maybe it’s better to support a team with no title or European ambitions. Perhaps living the mantra of no expectations no disappointments, is the way to go?

If you supported Stoke and their basketball lookalike of a team this season, your thought about how your team went would have been one of supreme triumph. Stoke after all did avoid the drop and did produce a secret weapon.

Every one who can throw long is now being touted as the new Rory Delap.

Surviving the drop can be as exhilarating as winning the league or the FA cup. Watching Newcastle play Middlesbrough at the weekend was enthralling, however if that fixture was played earlier in the year it wouldn’t have carried as much infatuation.

So it seems that if you follow a club outside the top four the only last day glory your club will achieve is surviving the drop. During the year you might get the odd win against the top four, go all the way till the knockout stages of a cup competition and maybe lose a cup final.

And if that is all the glory you get then that is ok because your club share’s a special place, in being not really shit, but not being all that great either.

Like {enter club here}.

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