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Fans with feud players and more: three EPL talking points

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

01-15-2016 15:00 BJT

Welcome to EPL3TP, where we take a look at three key talking points from the Premier League. This week: The PL lacks superstars;Van Gaal livens up; fans feud with players.

By Colin Robinson, CNTV Sports Commentator

Ballon d'Or highlights PL's lack of superstars, but does it matter?

In the six years before the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year Award were merged, the PL was well-represented: one winner was based in England, and so were three runners-up and two third-place finishers. But in the six years since, almost every player to finish in the top three has played for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

 

And La Liga clubs' dominance of the award continued this week: Barca's Lionel Messi won for a record-breaking fifth time while Real's Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi's teammate Neymar finished second and third.

Barca and Real's hegemony is no surprise, as there are great benefits of playing for an elite La Liga club as opposed to a top PL team. For example, the Spanish league has an annual break for Christmas and New Year, while the PL's winter schedule is hectic.

Then there's the British weather. Ronaldo often mentioned his dislike of Manchester's regular rain during his years at Man United, and the Madeira native seems much more at home in Madrid's Mediterranean climate.

If you factor in Spanish teams' success in the Champions League in recent seasons, it's no wonder the world's very best players gravitate toward La Liga.

But maybe it doesn't matter that the PL lacks a superstar of Ronaldo or Messi's caliber. It's thrilling to see an all-time great showing off spectacular technique and scoring great goals on a regular basis. Yet this season's PL has something much compelling than watching Barca and Real stars trample over Spain's lesser sides: a genuine sense that almost any team can beat any other.

Finally, some entertainment from Van Gaal

A few weeks ago, Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal looked like a shadow of his former self. Despite being known as a successful, charismatic coach with a penchant for attacking football, he'd been reserved, and he was overseeing a dull and ineffective side. But this week, we saw signs of life from the Dutchman. After his side played out a dramatic 3-3 draw with Newcastle, Van Gaal got into an argument at a press conference.

And this time, there was no dull and bewildering dossier of statistics, no calls for journalists to apologize to him; there was just a blunt and cutting insult: As he left the press room, he pointed at a Sun reporter and called him "fat man." This was the Van Gaal we'd expected to see.

And as the pressure ramps up on United's coach, there's plenty of potential for more outbursts. In particular, United's next fixture brings the possibilities of all kinds of off-the-field drama: a match against its old nemesis—Liverpool, managed by another of the PL's outspoken coaches, Jürgen Klopp.

No winners as players feud with fans

Sometimes the FA Cup is a welcome break from teams struggling in the league, a brief respite from a long, arduous fight against relegation. At other times, it can add further misery to an already bleak season. Suffering the latter fate last weekend, fans of both Swansea City and Aston Villa made their feelings clear as their teams struggled against fourth division sides.

When fans yell insults and abuse at their players, it does nothing to help their team, and it reflects badly on them. When players respond, they find that there is no reasoning with furious and frenzied supporters. In these situations, no one wins.
 
And that was proved last weekend. As tensions boiled over while Villa struggled to a draw with Wycombe, captain Micah Richards tried to remonstrate with supporters who were berating him and his teammates and questioning their "passion" for the game. Richards shouted back that his team was trying. But it did nothing to ease the situation.

As his team's supporters vented their frustration during a loss to Oxford, Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey reacted in more extreme fashion, and he was even accused of inciting a fight with one of his team's detractors.

A few days later, Shelvey was sold to Newcastle. On the plus side, he's escaping a toxic relationship with Swansea's support. But if he was bothered by Welsh fans being over-emotional, what will he make of a club whose supporters staged a mock funeral when its owner had St. James' Park stadium's iconic signs taken down?

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 

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