Stelling on why Premier League remains world's best despite European struggles

Jeff Stelling Carlsberg Peoples Pundit

Jeff Stelling tells HITC Sport that the Premier League remains the most exciting in world football, with high intensity responsible for European struggles.

Jeff Stelling Carlsberg Peoples Pundit

There will be no Premier League representation in the quarter-finals of the Champions League or Europa League in 2014/15.

We have yet to reach the end of March, but the challenge of England’s, and Britain’s, best has already come to a close.

Hull City failed to make it through the Europa League play-offs, while Liverpool – upon their return to European football’s top table – crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage and suffered penalty shoot-out heartache in its sister competition.

Manchester City scraped through their campaign among the elite before falling to Barcelona, while Arsenal and Chelsea came unstuck against Ligue 1 opposition in the form of Monaco and Paris St Germain respectively.

Over in the Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic saw their dreams dashed on Italian soil by Fiorentina and Inter Milan, before Everton – as the last team standing – endured a humbling continental collapse in the Ukrainian capital against Dynamo Kiev.

Jeff Stelling Carlsberg Peoples Pundit

Unfortunately for the Premier League representatives, this is becoming an all too familiar story with Chelsea - Champions League winners in 2012, Europa League in 2013 and Champions League semi-finalists in 2014 – the only side to offer any sort of resistance.

Much has been made of the struggles in the current campaign, with it unfairly suggested that the cream of the English crop are falling behind their rivals from mainland Europe.

It is an easy case to argue but, as Jeff Stelling points out, it is important to note that the high intensity of Premier League competition - with top talent more evenly spread than it is in Spain, Germany, Italy and France – means that it remains the most entertaining division on the planet and one where there is little margin for error or opportunity to take your foot off the domestic pedal.

Stelling is supporting North West finalist Andy Dawber in The People's Pundit, championed by the Carlsberg Fan Squad, and went to visit him in his local pub to give him some top tips on punditry. While there, he told HITC Sport during a telephone interview: “People have made a lot of the fact that we haven’t got any English sides in the last eight of a major European competition, but that’s partly because our leagues are so competitive. You have to have your full foot to the floor in every single game, week in and week out. That’s why it’s so good.

“Look at the Bundesliga, it’s a one-horse race – Bayern Munich and then the rest. In Spain, there effectively three teams. I know you could add Valencia this season, but there are effectively three teams in that division.

“That’s not what we want. We have got THE most competitive and THE most exciting and THE most entertaining league in the world, and I think that’s great.

“You never know what’s around the corner, do you? Southampton, at the start of this season, every Southampton fan that I spoke to, everybody felt that they would either be relegated or be fighting it. Look where we are, eight games from the end of the season and they are still in with a shout of the top four.”

The challenge for the Premier League heavyweights is to find a way of better managing their workload.

That, though, is never going to be easy when continental competition is complemented by a keenly-contested title race at home and domestic cup action – with many having to take the FA and League Cup seriously as they endeavour to deliver major silverware for expectant fan bases.

Big squads have been assembled at great expense, but rotation breaks stability and continuity. Injuries and suspensions also have to be factored into the equation.

What’s the answer? There may not be one. Football has a tendency to work in cycles and you get the feeling that the overall standard of the Premier League is too high for them to remain on the fringes of the European pack for long. Roll on 2015/16.

The mission of the Carlsberg fan squad is to make football better for fans. That's why, If Carlsberg did Pundits…they'd probably be just like you. Jeff Stelling visited North West finalist, Andy Dawber, at the John Millngton Pub in Manchester to help him prepare for Boot Camp in the People's Pundit, championed by Carlsberg – the official beer of the Premier League. To find out how Andy and all of our other pundits get on in the race to secure their big break on talkSPORT, or to find details of a regional heat near you, head to Plus, if you'd like to show your support to Andy, follow him @AndyDawber #PeoplesPundit

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