The new look “Europa League.” Strain or privilege?

by Michael Somerville

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

As many of you will know, the UEFA cup has undergone a transition this year and it’s not just the name that has changed. An incredible 193 teams will enter the 2009/2010 Europa League, with the initiative to play highly esteemed clubs such as Valencia, Ajax, Benfica, Zenit St Petersburg and Werder Bremen; just some of the teams entering the competition. From the glamour of the Champions League, you’d be forgiven in thinking that these once great teams have fallen a little short this season, as the Europa League is often a non-profitable, tiring endurance of competitions for the participating club, only really being worth the inevitable exhausting haul for the two finalists.

However for pure experience, and true understanding of the game on a European level, it can seldom be bettered. Fulham’s Roy Hodgson must be waiting with bated breath (a slightly gruesome image I know) to see what obscure Norwegian team Fulham have drawn in the third qualifying round (Fredrikstad are a possibility) with Hodgson more than likely to have been involved with the finest Norwegian football has to offer.

Glamour ties with the likes of PSV and Valencia may look like great ties, but could derail an entire Premier League season. Just look at Portsmouth, two nil up against AC Milan with mere minutes to go and they somehow throw it away, conceding two late goals at Fratton Park. Portsmouth duly struggled after that result in the league, and looked likely to go down, before they were rescued from the flailing, lurching incompetence of Tony Adams; giver of one of the worst team talks of all time. Apparently, when Portsmouth were 2-0 down at home, Adams told his team “not to bother” as “they’re better than you anyway.” Strong rumours that the team in question was West Ham point strongly to a few screws loose in Adams’ mind that day!

The Europa League is definitely a good competition to win, but with nineteen games to play before the final at the HSH Nordbank Arena, ground of Hamburger SV in Hamburg, Germany, the newly revised competition will be about losing not winning.

At least the linesmen won’t get the decisions wrong; there will be five officials at every Europa League game. The new method has been tried and tested at a youth tournament in Cyprus.

No, me neither.

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  • Stevie

    look what happened to Villa, they played way to many games and ended up blowing a great chance of glory in the league.

    So I would say it’s a strain unless you have a very big squad

  • Dave

    UEFA have been pushing for a full blown European League for years. This is just another step towards their dream. Won’t be long before Manchester United fans will have to travel to Galatasaray each and every year.


  • dexylongshot

    There was talk of them doing an fa cup style knockout system with the top 10 teams from the 1st and 2nd divisions of the main countries all ih the hat straight away, imagine Blackpool V Roma at home.

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