Run with Eric + Sport

The Also-Rans Midweek Kickabout

What a week of European football. Controversial goals, controversial free kicks, controversial controversy. Also, inside sources reveal some English bloke played for Milan against Manchester United, but goodness knows why they think that’s important.

Nope, it’s the Premier League that’s really intriguing me, and specifically the chat about a fourth-place play-off for that final Champions League spot. Is it a good idea?

In short, no. Shorter, N. The only way I could making this even briefer would be to punch the original exponent of the idea in the face.

Putting aside the argument that 38 games should be enough to decide the standings without the need for a play-off, it’s utterly ridiculous that a team finishing seventh, potentially some 20 points behind fourth, could play in the damn CHAMPIONS LEAGUE. It’s absurd enough that a team finishing fourth can. At least change the name of the tournament to ‘The Also-Rans Midweek Kickabout’ or something.

The play-off idea really might happen. For it to go any further, 14 of the league’s 20 teams need to back the idea, which is interesting considering 14 of the league’s 20 teams won’t be in any way affected. Predictably, those in favour include Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa are seventh) and those against include Rafa Benitez and Arsene Wenger (Liverpool fifth; Arsenal third).

It seems almost too obvious that the final spot shouldn’t go to fourth at all but the FA Cup winners, opening the race for a Champions League place wider than a play-off would and giving the tournament more importance. Hell, play tiddlywinks for the spot if you have to. Just don’t give it to fourth.

None of the contenders even want fourth, it seems. The best teams drop points now and then, but even as a fan you have to ask the question: based on this season, do any of Liverpool, Manchester City, Spurs or Aston Villa really deserve to rank alongside Europe’s league champions? Really?

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The Also-Rans Midweek Kickabout + Sport