Thanks to everyone that followed recently •. #coys #tottenhamhotspur #tottenham…

Thanks to everyone that followed recently 💙
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#coys #tottenhamhotspur #tottenham #football #premierleague #london #northlondon #spurs #thfc

Manchester United Are Back in Business

Manchester United did not have a perfect start to the current Premier League campaign. David Moyes took over from the departing Alex Ferguson and faced an unenviable challenge of meeting the pressure of high expectation. The team lost three games of their initial eight and the former Everton manager’s critics began to sharpen their knives. The Red Devils were clearly imploding and after they had fallen to eighth place on the points table, the naysayers began to question their credentials and some even stressed that mid-table was where United really belonged.

But nine matches later, and importantly, nine unbeaten games later, United find themselves in fifth place, just five points adrift of table leaders, Arsenal. How did the transformation happen? To begin with, Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table was sustained in the absence of games with big teams such as Chelsea, Man City and Man United themselves. The luck of the draw did not favor Moyes whose wards faced off against the likes of Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea, relatively early in the season.

Arsenal had been in a similar situation in 2008 when they blew a five point lead at the top of the table after an injury to their star striker. In the event the Gunners ended up in fourth place, at the end of the season. In the lead up to Arsenal’s match against United, Wayne Rooney drew attention to this fact. Given Gunners’ winning form and the perceived decline of United in the post-Ferguson era, Arsenal were expected to bank full three points from the game at Old Trafford. Liverpool had bearded the Red Devils in their den and Gunners had beaten the Merseysiders; ergo, Arsene Wenger’s men should beat David Moyes’ wards, went the argument.

But van Persie and Man United had other ideas and the home side emerged deserving 1-0 winners to bring themselves within five points of Arsenal who continue to lead the table. United have 20 points from 11 games, and apart from Arsenal, only Liverpool (23), Southampton (22) and Chelsea (21) are ahead of them on the table. It is not unrealistic to expect the Saints to drop down the table as the season wears on. With Arsenal yet to play Man City or Chelsea, the results of those games could have a dramatic effect on the hierarchy of teams on the points table. Consider also that United have upcoming games against Cardiff, Tottenham, Everton and Newcastle, all of which are there to be won, and it won’t be unrealistic to suggest that United may well be at the top of the table by Christmas.

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6 Interesting Facts About Manchester United FC You Probably Didn’t Know Before

Manchester United FC is probably one of the most successful professional football clubs on the planet. Also known as The Red Devils, the club is based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England. Here are some interesting facts about Manchester United you probably have never heard before.

Fact #1 – Manchester United was not the first choice for the football club’s name.

When founded in 1878, the club was named Newton Heath LYR Football Club after the Carriage and Wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath. The name was changed to Manchester United Football Club on 24 April 1902 due to change in ownership.

Fact #2 – The Red Devils is the first English team to compete in The European Cup.

Despite the fact that the Football League objected the participation of English football teams in the European Cup, Manchester United took part in the 1957 European Cup as the first English football team to do so. Before they were beaten by Real Madrid on the way to semi-finals, the club beat Anderlecht FC from Belgium with a score of 10-0. This is remains their biggest win to date.

Fact #3 – The 1958 Munich air disaster claimed 8 players’ lives.

The plane crash that happened on 6 January 1958 cost 8 of The Red Devils players their lives. They are Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, Geoff Bent, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor, and Billy Whelan. After winning a match against the Red Star Belgrade FC, the plane carrying the team players, officials, and journalists crashed in Munich, Germany. A total of 23 passengers were killed in that accident and several others were injured.

Fact #4 – The club holds many title records.

This football club holds the record for most top-division titles (19 times), most Premier League titles (12 titles), most FA Cups (11 cups), and the most FA Cup Final appearances (18). The Red Devils is also known as the first English football team to win the European Cup in 1968.

Fact #5 – The Red Devils lacks of UEFA European Cup.

Despite the fact that the Manchester United managed to get into the quarter-finals in 1984-1985, the team has never succeeded in winning any UEFA European Cup.

Fact #6 – The team is now under the most successful manager of the English football history.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson started managing club in November 1986, Manchester United has successfully won 27 major honors. This Scottish football manager received the honorary title Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen of England in 1983 and upgraded into the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995.

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Sir Matt Busby – The Godfather of Manchester United

Sir Matt Busby was the manager at Manchester United from 1945 to 1969, taking the club to both League and Cup honours during his long and distinguished career at Old Trafford.

Sir Matt Busby took over the reins at Manchester United in October 1945, although his contract had been signed the previous February. From the moment the 35-year-old demobilized company sergeant-major arrived at the club things would never be the same again. The former Manchester City and Liverpool player immediately put his mark on the club and he demanded powers over the appointment of personnel and the buying and selling of players. Busby’s socialism no doubt transformed Manchester United into one of the giants of English football and during his first three years in charge the club finished First Division runners-up three times in a row as well as winning the FA Cup in 1948.

In 1958 tragedy struck when a British European Airways Elizabethan plane hit Munich Airport’s perimeter fence during its third attempt at take-off. After winning the Championship in 1952, 1956 and 1957, Busby’s immensly gifted Manchester United side were tragically destroyed. However, the legendary manager continued his search for the Holy grail and he will always be remembered for the European Cup Final in 1968 when Manchester United went on to trash Benfica 4-1. The memorable victory at Wembley Stadium was fully recognised as the long serving manager was most deservedly knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List shortly after.

When Sir Matt died on the 20th of January 1994, a vast amount of dedicated Manchester United supporters turned out to pay their last respects to the Scottish manager. On the 27th of April 1996, Manchester United Football Club unveiled a bronze statue at the Scoreboard End of Old Trafford in honour of the great man who was simply known as Mr. Manchester United. Sir Matt Busby had a second spell as Old Trafford manager during the 1970-71 season and he continued to be involved with the club for several years after his retirement.

«Resting in Interlaken, Germany was one thing and facing Old Trafford another. When I approached the ground and moved over the bridge along which our supporters had squeezed fifty abreast in there tens of thousands to shout for us I could scarcely bear to look. I knew the ghosts of the babes would still be there, and there they are still, and they will always be there as long as those who saw them still cross the bridge, young, gay, red ghosts on the green grass of Old Trafford.»

Sir Matt Busby quote.

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Three Great Manchester United Memorabilia Gift Options

Are you looking for a really special present for a Manchester United fan? As one of the most popular football teams in the country, it should come as no surprise that there is a brilliant range of Manchester United memorabilia available, which means you are sure to find the perfect gift option for the person you are buying for – no matter what the occasion. This article takes you through three fantastic choices of Manchester United memorabilia gift options.

Stadium Tour

One particularly great choice would be a tour of Old Trafford, home to Man Utd. You can get tours for children, adults and families, so you are sure to find an option to suit the person you are buying the gift for. On the tour, your recipient will get to see some of the famous sights such as the manager’s place at the side of the pitch, the players’ tunnel and the dressing room, making for a really exciting event.

Signed Memorabilia

Signed Manchester United memorabilia also makes for a really special gift for all sorts of occasions, so if you know someone who would love to own something that has come directly from one of their favourite players, a signed item could be just the ticket. For example, you could choose the Bryan Robson signed limited edition print, the Denis Law signed photographic print or the George Best golden boot framed presentation. There are also signed items available from recent and current players such as Rooney, Giggs and Ronaldo, meaning you are sure to find the perfect item for fans of any age.

Personalised Man Utd Gifts

Personalised Man Utd gifts are also ideal for birthdays, anniversaries and all sorts of other events. Personalised Manchester United memorabilia will let the person receiving your gift know that you thought carefully about what to get them and the fact that you then took the time to get that gift personalised is sure to mean a lot to them. One great option is the Manchester United football club diary, which not only comes embossed with the name of your choice on the front, but also includes newspaper reports of important moments in the club’s history. The personalised Man Utd framed print is also really special; it features a picture of club shirts taken in the dressing room and comes with the surname of your choice merged onto the centre shirt. This makes it the perfect gift for anyone who has ever dreamed of playing for the club and seeing their name on a shirt alongside some of the greatest players.

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Which World Football League Is The Best Of The Best

Serie A, La Liga and the Premiership all voice strong claims to be the finest football league in the world today. However, which of these has the most genuine claim. The recognition of being the best is an honor that dictates not just bragging rights, but also the ability to draw the finest players and sponsorship contracts to secure the mantle yet further. There are countless factors to consider; the players the leagues have now, the trophies won by their clubs, the quality of football played and the stature of their various sides. Does that tactical catenaccio of the Italians outweigh the physical pressure of the Premiership? Would the top-heavy flair of La Liga continually overcome the strength of an English midfield? How do the Mediterranean cousins compare?

In comparing these various brands of ‘the beautiful game’ we must consider the many factors that make them great individually. The history, the present and the future are all crucial in contrasting these various brands of and eventually building a perception of whether one does stand above the others.

Players

The first and often the most favored way of fans comparing championships, who has the best players? The natural assumption following this is that Spain hold the upper hand in this argument; especially given that both World (Ronaldinho) and European (Fabio Cannavaro) Players of Year play in La Liga. Also Spain can boast many other great talents; Madrid have van Nistelrooy, Raul, Robinho and Beckham, Barca can boast Ronaldinho, Deco, Messi, Eto’o and Zambrotta. Other clubs have similarly immense performers, David Villa and Joaquin Sanchez at Valencia, Riquelme at Villarreal to name but a few.

Italy can boast a similarly impressive list of galacticos, however, possibly due to the more pedestrian nature of Serie A the players have a tendency to be of a slightly more advanced age. Internazionale (or Inter) boast the most impressive roster; Crespo, Ibrahimovic, Veron, Stankovic, Figo and Samuel all ply there trade for the Nerazzurri. Their city rivals Milan also have a cornucopia of stars; despite losing their talisman Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea in the summer, they have one world beater in Riccy Kaka’. Also players as renowned as Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Alberto Gilardino front a cast that contains talent enough to challenge for any trophy. Also worth mentioning is that the Milan rear-guard still contains the legendary Paulo Maldini as captain. With the shadow of Calciopoli hanging over the Italian top flight, what should be mentioned is the exodus from Serie A that occurred over the summer saw many of their finest individuals leave the division.

Zambrotta and Thuram left Juventus for Barcelona, likewise Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson joined their Bianconieri coach Fabio Capello in Madrid, and former Serie A favourites like Alessandro del Piero, Gigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet have all decided to stay loyal to the old lady and ply their trade in Serie B for a season. As mentioned, Shevchenko also left the Rossoneri for Chelsea.

Whilst discussing Chelsea we must clearly outline that they are the major player in European football today. The premise that currently exists in football is that, when it comes to the transfer market, the Premiership champions are the team that all others must follow. Due to the seemingly unlimited funds stumped up by their Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have amassed a team of stars to match any other club in the world. With Terry and Lampard already present prior to the Russian benefactor’s input, players like Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Joe Cole and, as discussed, Shevchenko. The Premiership can also boast some of the world’s finest players in Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal; Rooney, Rio and Ronaldo at Manchester United and Liverpool’s talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard.

The important thing to outline when comparing the undoubtedly huge talents on show in these various leagues is that although we are examining them from the perspective of now, the future is also a vital factor. As we discussed Serie A does tend to boast more seasoned galacticos whereas the Premiership can argue that, in Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas, they have some of the most promising talent. Spanish football could also argue that their spread is encompasses youth, with youngsters such as Sergio Aguero and Fernando ‘el Nino’ Torres at Atletico, Lionel Messi at Barca and one name to watch in Matias Fernandez, a Chilean playmaker due to join Villarreal in January.

Marketing

Football in the Twenty First Century is far more than the game it was in previous decades. It is now a business, and one of the world’s biggest at that. Transfer prices are now such that it appears any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ is worth £15 million. Player’s wages have also experienced astronomical rises. This is to the extent that £3 million per year is not considered to be a completely outrageous wage for a top international player. With the costs to clubs continually rising, somebody is required to fulfill these extravagant fiscal demands.

Sponsorship, television rights and marketing revenue are now utilized by top clubs that are now selling a ‘brand’ rather than a sport. From product association to shirts emblazoned with trade names, the marketing aspect of major clubs and leagues is paramount to the strength therein.

Annually an accountancy firm called Deloitte release details of top European club’s financial incomes over the previous season. Essentially a ‘rich-list’ of sides, comparing their viability and market strength in today’s football world. The most recent edition of this list is from the 2005 season and the zenith of the list is almost totally dominated by our ‘big three leagues’.

The 2005 rankings dictate that the world’s market leader in football terms is now Real Madrid. The previous years had been dominated by the Manchester United marketing machine; however the Castilian club took the mantle from their English rivals. Much of this change in fortunes has been put down to the ‘David Beckham factor’.

Former England skipper David Beckham is as famous for his private life as he is for his football. Married to a ‘Spice-Girl’, the midfielder looks more like a pop star than a footballer, sporting numerous tattoos, continually outrageous hair styles and a multiplicity of product endorsement contracts. Described as being the ‘most photographed sportsman ever’, Beckham is worth his weight in Euros to his club side. The fact that Manchester United, who previously topped the rich-list, were dethroned by Beckham’s new club Real Madrid is regarded as proof of the man’s value from a marketing perspective. However, it is worth mentioning that Madrid’s on-field performances have declined while their finances improved, and a more recent list may also hint at Beckham’s own on-pitch decline as a force in world football.

The top ten teams in the list are, with the exception of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, all from Spain, Italy or England. The majority is dominated by the Premiership as we see Manchester United (2nd), Chelsea (5th), Liverpool (8th) and Arsenal (10th), this is followed by three Serie A clubs in Milan (3rd), Juventus (4th) and Inter (9th) and Spain’s La Liga only has two top ten entries, despite Real topping the list being followed by rivals Barcelona in 6th. In viewing these figures, we must firstly emphasise that they are not as up to date as we would like, also should a more recent list be compiled we would surely see the effect of Calciopoli on the Italian sides.

Style

The extent to which a league entertains depends vastly upon how you like your football. The three brands all vary in their traits greatly and taste is a vital factor within this, after all, one man’s pineapple is another man’s poison. Main differences in these leagues are inherent of the style of football played in each respective country. Although on the surface this may seem obvious, but when we consider the extent to which domestic football has become incredibly multicultural, it is positive that these leagues maintain their own identity despite this.

The brand of football played in the leagues differs greatly. As mentioned earlier, the Italian game is one based around technique, control of possession and patience. The cattenaccio of today’s Italian game is not as negative as that of sides during the mid-twentieth century, wherein five defenders would be used to enforce a stringent man marking system with a ‘libero’ slotting in behind as a ball-playing sweeper. Unfortunately the system in its original state is now outdated, given that both the zonal marking system has almost uniformly become the status quo of the modern game and that sweepers are now very scarcely employed. However, the football played in Serie A today is one that echoes this system.

Calcio is often regarded by those in Northern Europe as being dull, but those closer to the Mediterranean as being a purists game that encapsulates a higher standard of football than any other. Football in Italy has been likened to a game of chess, with a more systematic approach than that of other countries. Defenders are often as gifted in possession as any other position, a trait not found elsewhere in football. The style football played uses lots of short passes designed to open pockets of space, rather than longer balls targeting taller forwards. The game requires a very high level of technical ability, with the art of controlling and passing paramount.

Detractors of the Italian game often point its lack of pace and time-consuming attacking play as its flaws. Goals are notoriously hard to come by, a fact further embellished by examining Luca Toni’s impressive thirty-one goal season last year, the first player to score over thirty goals in Serie A for forty eight years. As such many prefer the hustle and bustle of leagues like the Premiership.

The Premiership is a very fast and furious division; emphasis on strength, pace and drive. This is not withstanding the fact that a very high standard of football can be seen in England’s top flight, however by and large the game is dictated in a very physically demanding manner. English football was much maligned in the eighties and nineties for a predominance of ‘long ball’ football. The theory being that long, direct passes into forward areas would create chances for purposefully employed big, physical strikers. This style was often considered to not be graceful and was lambasted by critics. Despite the fact that the English league has developed since, similarly to the catenaccio roots of Serie A, this style still exists to some extent today; even league champions Chelsea have been criticised for employing such a style. Despite not being as higher level of technical level, the Premiership is often billed as being ‘the most exciting league in the world’ due to its non-stop action-packed intensity.

In contrast La Liga has a style of its own entirely. Borrowing much from a South American ethic of flair football, the Spanish league is famed for its fast, flowing attacking brand of play. Spain’s Primera Division has won many admirers over recent years, firstly thanks to the Zidane inspired galacticos of Madrid and more recently the exploits of Ronaldinho Gaucho for Barcelona. The emphasis in Spain, more than any other in Europe, is on attacking play. Formations are based around ball playing midfielders and skilful wingers. This does produce a very open brand of football; however this does often expose defensive frailties. With the occasional exception (Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol) Spanish defenders are not generally as strong as their counterparts in farther reaches of the game. This combined with the ability of attackers does make La Liga very enticing from a spectator point of view.

Not withstanding the stereotypes that we have examined, there are clear exceptions to every rule, and this instance no different. Despite being usually solid and defence-orientated, Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan have been praised for their attacking football in Serie A. Also, and potentially the finest example of this, there is Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s men continually produce some of the most free flowing football in world football today. However, for obvious reasons, the North London outfit could be reasoned to be the exception to the rule as they have a side almost totally dominated by foreign players. To the extent that, since the departures of Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole, it is unlikely that an Englishman will, should the Gunners be at full strength, feature at all.

Competitiveness

What makes a league exciting is often based around not only the vastness of the occasion or the protagonists involved, but the closeness of the competitors. In all leagues, as with walks of life, there are historically bigger sides with larger financial acumen, but where there is no competition, there is no spectacle.

The Premiership has been dominated by the wealth of Chelsea over the past two seasons, not withstanding the fact that it takes more than just money to dominate a league (although it helps) and it is a credit to both players and coaching staff that they have taken the past two successive titles with consummate ease. This season, however is painting a different picture. The wily old Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is now producing the results that his talented array of stars are capable of, and at this point in time stand a commendable eight points clear of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.

Beyond the top two, we see something that has been apparent for some time in the Premiership. The gap between the top teams and the chasing pack could be justifiably described as chasm-like. Previously there was a top four that added Liverpool and Arsenal to the current table-topping rivals, but unfortunately for the neutral this gap has extended to these clubs as well. However, this does create what can be seen as almost a ‘second league’ in which clubs behind Manchester United and Chelsea vie for the remaining to places in Europe’s prestigious Champions League.

This chasing pack includes both Liverpool and Arsenal, followed in strength of squad by Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur but effectively any other side that can put together a good run of results can infiltrate the group, as was the case with last season’s surprise package of Wigan Athletic, who almost secured a UEFA Cup berth despite being touted as relegation favorites before the season began.

Spain can also look to the domination of one club over the past two seasons as being the main debating topic. Barcelona’s back-to-back titles have not, however, received anything like the treatment that Chelsea’s similar achievements have. Whilst the ‘boo-boys’ have been out in force ‘pooh-poohing’ the wealth, attitude and style (or lack thereof) the Premiership’s title holders, Barcelona’s success has been lauded as a ‘victory for style over adversity’. From many purists’ perspectives, the brand of flowing football that Barca exhibit is very pleasing on the eye and the fact that Los Cules are considered footballing royalty, rather than the nouveau riche of Mourinho’s men, could be a factor.

The Primera Liga at present still see’s the Catalonian giants on top, a mini-renaissance from their bitter rivals Real Madrid has been temporarily halted as the surprise package of Sevilla look to ‘upset the apple cart’. Traditional bridesmaids Valencia appear to have moved back to a position more akin to an usher as Atletico Madrid and Zaragoza enjoy good form. Unlike the Premiership, La Liga does not usually purvey the gulf between the top sides and their competitors. Such is the nature of Spanish football, that although unexpected, the top teams are more often beaten by their less illustrious competitors.

In the Italian top flight, again the competitiveness is affected by the match fixing scandal. From the season’s opening, it seemed that it would be a two horse race. In previous seasons this has been the case, with Juventus battling Milan for lo scudetto. However, with Milan docked points and Juventus having to cope with life in Serie B, it has left Roma and Inter to battle for the title. Inter, the perennial underachievers of calico, have amassed one of the world’s strongest squads and as such currently stand a clear distance ahead of their rivals. Nine consecutive wins for the nerazzurri (an Italian record) sees Mancini’s men looking down the barrel of their first actual title (they were handed the 2006 title by default of being the highest placed side guilty of no wrongdoing in the Calciopoli scandal) in over ten years.

In Conclusion

Upon first attempting to tackle this question, I can honestly state that I did not conceive quite what I was undertaking. All three leagues are packed with all things that make football the worlds biggest, and in my opinion best, sport. Rather than scrutinized with a cynical eye, we should really be embracing these bastions of passion, flair and ability, rejoicing in the pleasure that millions of fans get from these three small collections of twenty teams. However, I set out on a journey, a journey that took longer than anticipated, but a journey all the same to root out which I believed to be the best.

If that assessment leaves all of the leagues attributes equal then the next separates. Money and marketing are bigger in the Premier League than in any other non-American sport and the financial credence there eclipses anything that Spain or Italy can boast. However, the argument in this instance must remain, how important (bragging rights aside) is the money? Which leads us to question, is money not potentially the ultimate undoing of these leagues? Using Italy as a prime example, the great football broadcaster James Richardson cites this as the reason for Serie A’s downturn in fortunes; he believes that money that was spent around the turn of the century was effectively ‘promised’ funds for projected future television rights that sadly never materialized. However, in the Premiership, the money just keeps rolling in.

Finally we draw to the final issue of competitiveness and with Calciopoli forcing Serie A to dismount its jockey leaving a two horse race. In this issue I am setting my stall out early and backing the Premiership. With no disrespect to Real Madrid, but I cannot see Barcelona being usurped this season. From watching football for many years now, you learn to know when a resurgence is threatening, and Madrid’s is not that. Manchester United however is the English top flight, for the first time in a while, looks as though it will draw to a truly nail-biting conclusion.

Overall, as I have mentioned throughout, it is with regret that I concede that Italy, given all of their difficulties, cannot compete. This upsets me, as it was Serie A where I gained much of my development as a football supporter, spending years enjoying the delights of the Mediterranean game, watching exotically monikered players with equally glamorous abilities. It is true that the average Italian top flight footballer is of higher fundamental ability than his English counterpart, but the stigma of scandal is too apparent in the current Serie A climate for them to be considered. It is my hope that we see a renaissance in Italian football and that over the coming decade we see a nation rejuvenated and again rivaling their Spanish and English counterparts.

So it comes to the final two, and in truth it could not be tighter. However, it is the Premiership which I believe to be the best. It is by the width of a flee’s reproductive organs, but the Premiership has the lot. It has, in my opinion, the most exciting crop of young players, the most competitive title chase and the best supporters. It has the biggest worldwide audiences and is (marginally) the strongest nation in the worldwide transfer market. This is not to detract from La Liga, a league of endless attacking improvisation, flair and adventure, a league that has history, has impossibly gifted players, has Ronaldinho, but its flaws are too clear. The hapless defending is one such example of this and too bigger issue to be ignored.

For me, the Premiership has only recently secured the mantle it has sought since its creation. For the Baggios, van Bastens, Papins, Maldinis, Batistutas and friends in Nineties Serie A to the Zizous, Figos, Rivaldos, Ronaldos, Rauls et al of Noughties La Liga, there has always been something to separate English Football from the top of the tree, however now it is clear that the FA Premier League is THE major force in world football today and given the money and following dedicated to retaining that mantle, I foresee that this will be the case for years to come.

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