Is there still a Big 4?

by Mystical Mike

Friday, December 12th, 2008

What is the defining points to being a big club?

It dawned me whilst discussing football with some friends of different allegiance last week that actually, the media tag of “the big 4” is a total misconception.

What makes the big 4, the big 4? The only thing they have in common is that they are all in the Champions League. That in itself doesn’t make you a big club does it? Bate Borisov, Steaua Bucharest and Cluj cannot be considered big clubs. PSG and AC Milan are still big clubs aren’t they? Is it that they have all won the top division? Well, there are others who have won that honour? Blackburn, Tottenham etc.

So what is the reasoning? I put this question to everyone and no one could find a n adequate explanation for the phrase.

It’s not form or capability surely? Certainly, this year, Villa & Hull are as good if not better than Woolwich. Liverpool, sitting top of the league, do not look unbeatable, neither do Man Utd or Chelsea. Certainly if you look at the form guide for the last 6 games, Man Utd are top, ahead of Chelsea, Spurs and Bolton are 3 and 4th respectively and Wigan and Everton are ahead of Woolwich. Everything is different this year.

As a Spurs fan, I have normally always dreaded going into a game against Man Utd, Chelsea or Liverpool, even at home. Woolwich are a different story and is always a different game. However, this Saturday, most football fans, not just Spurs fans, that I have been speaking to, genuinely believe this is a game Spurs can win. My point being, I think there is every reason to believe Blackburn, sitting bottom, can beat any team in the Premier League, all the way up to Liverpool. Everyone has a capability to beat everyone.

So, what is the definition of the big 4? Champions League participation is not a reason (just to pre-empt Woolwich fans!)

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  • Stevie

    all of the big 4 are in the top 10 of the rich list.

    1 Real Mardid 236m
    2 Man United 212m
    3 Barcelona 195m
    4 Chelsea 190m
    5 Arsenal 177m
    6 AC Milan 153
    7 Bayern 150m
    8 Liverpool 133m
    9 Inter 131m
    10 Roma 106m

    3 of the big 4 have won all but 1 Premier League title between them, only Blackburn gate crashed the party way back in the early 90’s.

    The same can be said about the FA Cup, only Portsmouth have won it in 14 years.

    4 of the last 6 Champions League finals have been contested by the one them too.

    The season is also over 38 games, so until one of those sides finishes outside of the top 4 then I’m afraid yes, there is still a big 4.

  • Jamie Farrier

    That final point you made Stevie pretty much sums it up. The question we’re really asking here is if the idea of the ‘Big 4′ is a set definition of teams (Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea) or if it represents the idea of an open-invitation members’ club, accepting to recognise a new team at the expense of another. One of the pre-requisites of becoming one of the Big 4, however, is not just qualifying for the Champions’ League as a one-off, it’s all about sustained success over a number of seasons. So whatever happens to Arsenal come May, I doubt we’ll consider them outside of the Big 4 unless their heirs can prove their worth in years afterwards.

  • Darren

    I agree with both Stevie and Jamie, and not just from a biased perspective of course. It’s about success over a long period. If you look at the last 15 years you will see the same teams winning all the trophies. How many league titles have they won between them? It must be around the 50 mark.

    They also have the world’s best managers and can attract any player they want. Do you really think Torres would have signed for any club outside of the B4?

    Occasionally one of them will have a bad season and drop out, but rest assured, they’ll be straight back the season after.

    Every other team in the league would love to even be in Arsenals position this season, all be it a bad one for them, it just goes to show what standards they have set!

  • Dexy Longshot

    sounds like a bitter Spud to me.

    But if you look at the facts, the Spuds have had more number one’s then the Woolwich boys, the classy Chaz & Dave ‘Lucky for Spurs’ & ‘Ozzy Wembley’ both made number one. And for that, the whole footballing world is truly jealous!!

    Get off me sister! Oi Oi!!!!

  • Martyn

    Of all the points made, the only one that stands up is Stevie’s first and very valid point. I think it really does boil down to finances. You cant only talk about the premier league or the last fifteen years just because it serves your purpose. If you are looking athe history you cant just stop where your team drops out of the reckoning. The point wasn’t a Woolwich vs Spurs, which you’ve all seemd to dive on. I’m talking about how the league is so different this year. In Woolwich’s case, you guys cant be so blind to see the team is not underperforming but the quality is just not as good as it was 4 yeasr ago. Its not a dip in form, the players, Fabregas and Sagna aside, are just not goo denough to compete with Liverpool, Man U or Chelsea. Again, forget Spurs for a minute (although you all seem to be so obsessed by them), lets talk about Villa for example, I genuinely believe they are a better squad man for man than Woolwich.

  • Darren

    I’m not defending Arsenal because I couldn’t agree more, even Fabregas is having an average season, thanks to Denilson. We were only 2 players short last season of having the best team in Europe. We sold to many good players and replaced them with average ones and crap ones, Silvertre, please stand up. So now we are 4 or 5 players short, plus Gallas, Toure & even Adebayor are not up to scratch this season. But as he has proved year after year Arsene Wenger is the king of adversity!

    Steve did raise some good points and in fact inspired me to check out Wikipedia to see who actually is the most success club in terms of trophies. Here’s the results.


    League champions 18
    FA Cup 7
    European cup 5
    UEFA cup 3
    Cup winners cup 1
    League cup 7

    Trebles 1, Doubles 1

    Total 42

    Man United

    League champions 17
    FA Cup 11
    European Cup 3
    UEFA Cup 1
    League cup 2

    Real Trebles 1, Doubles 3

    Total 33


    League champions 13
    FA Cup Winners 10
    Undefeated in a whole season 1
    Cup Winners Cup 1
    League Cup 2
    Champions League Runners up 1

    Doubles 3

    Total 26

    Aston Villa

    League winners 7
    FA Cup 7
    European cup 1
    League cup 5

    Total 20


    League champions 2
    FA Cup 8
    League cup 4
    UEFA Cup 2
    Cup winners cup 1

    Doubles 1

    Total 17


    League champions 9
    FA Cup 5
    Cup winners cup 1
    World Soccer Magazine World Team of the Year 1985

    Total 15


    League champions 3
    FA Cup 4
    UEFA Cup 2
    Champions League runners up 1
    League cup 4

    Total 13

  • Martin Tibbetts

    The Big 4 is a marketing tool created by Sky television, that has become self perpetuating. In the new era, where people support a club they watch on telly rather than in a stadium, Sky have cosistently pushed these 4 clubs as they believe that this will increase their worldwide audience. So they get more profile, therefore more money, therefore more success and more coverage – the circle of Sky. It will take something special to change it, or maybe just shitloads of cash from Dubai in the case of City, as money dictates this and nothing else….

  • Dan Church

    Regardless of who coinned the phrase, i dont think its to do with money, else it would now be called the big 5 with Citys new found riches. Its simply down to the fact that over the years, United and Liverpool have been the teams with the history, right up to the 1980’s when the majority of the seasons finished as a Liverpool/United 1/2, then Arsenal started to break away and become a force, and Chelsea joined the band when Abramovich bought half the planet. The big 4 will now always be the big 4, with a nod to the fact that theres 4 teams and 4 champions league qualification places. If Man City manage to win the league for the next 5 seasons then it may well become the big 5, but the fact remains that local rivalries aside, theres 4 teams that every team wants to get a result against each season…..the Big 4.

  • Dan Church

    ps, Darren, wheres Uniteds Cup winners cup triumph over Barcelone in 92 eh ?? and can you at least tally your totals correctly. Thank you.

  • Darren

    my mistake Dan, they haven’t actually won the UEFA cup.

    Manchester City could still go down, which would be hilarious, what kind of players would they be able to attract then? I do think we are going to lose a biggish club this season, a Blackburn, Sundrlnad, West Ham or even a Man City.

  • Serge Senna

    I am going to have to sign up to receive your feed. This is good stuff

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