Friday, 6 April 2012

The Europa League is it really the Mickey Mouse Cup?

On his debut for The Football Front, Tom Moseley explains why the Europa League deserves more respect than it currently gets.

For a while now, people have been regarding the Europa League as ‘The Mickey Mouse Cup’ or ‘A Mickey Mouse Cup’ saying they don’t really care about it and it doesn’t mean anything. However, does it really deserve this title? Especially this year, there seems to have been a general increase in the amount of people watching and enjoying the Europa League, for a few different reasons.

Firstly, I find the Europa League much more entertaining than the Champions League, because I think that the Europa League is played at a higher pace than the Champions League and fewer teams settle for draws, leading to end-to-end and potentially high scoring games. You can see this if you compare the Champions League and Europa League Quarter Final first legs and seeing the difference in the amount of goals. In the Europa League there were 15 goals in the four games, which is an average of 3.75 goals a game, which is quite high to be honest, whereas the Champions League is different. In the Champions League there were 6 goals, which is an average of 1.5 goals a game, so on average, you get 2 more goals a game in the Europa League, which backs up the fact the Europa League is better for entertainment than the Champions League.

I think the next main reason why the Europa League is starting to appeal to a lot more people and is being dismissed as a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ by more people is because it’s ‘refreshing’ because in the Champions League, you see those same sides on TV every week. I mean I always say that if you have SkySports you have a Real Madrid and Barcelona season ticket, so when the Europa League is on, it’s a welcome chance to watch some different teams. You can see different managers, players and styles, instead of the same thing every week. This could appeal to people even more if they want to learn more

about the game, because they are finding out about new players and managers they never knew before, meaning they’re learning more and more out about different aspects of football, which they might not necessarily find out when they watch the same kinds of teams. An example of this is mainly Athletic Bilbao. I have learnt a lot about them from the few Europa League games of theirs I have watched. I knew most of their players and I knew Biesla was their manager and that he managed Chile in the World Cup and is nicknamed ‘El Loco’ but I didn’t know exactly how they played, which is probably the main reason why I enjoyed their game at Old Trafford, because they play an exciting brand of football. They press high and play at a high tempo with lots of men attacking and lots of good movement/runs in and around the box, which is good football for entertainment and if you’re watching as a neutral.

For me, this is the biggest argument for why the Europa League is getting better and not necessarily better than the Champions League, because technically, the Champions League teams are better, but more entertaining and could possibly become a ‘Peoples Cup’ which may not always be the best in quality, but the games are always entertaining, open and played at a fast tempo.

I also think the ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ isn’t a right title for the cup as well, because if you go by popular opinion that the two Manchester Clubs are the best in England and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the World, then they wouldn’t have been knocked out so early in the tournament, for the point they entered in. If it really was as bad as it is made out, then I’m pretty sure the two Manchester clubs would have walked it and there would have been a Manchester Derby final, which a couple of people I know said there would be.

However, again this could be due to lack of knowledge of the game as well, as they don’t know a lot about the teams they’ll be up against, so they assume that the Manchester Clubs will walk it, because nine times out of ten, if you know next to nothing about a team in the Europa League, but know a lot about a decent Champions League team, you’re going to back the Champions League team, aren’t you? I mean, a couple of people I was talking to didn’t really know who Bilbao were.

Another way to look at it is to think, if your team won the Europa League, would you play it down and say ‘well, it’s only a Mickey Mouse Cup’. My guess is no, you wouldn’t. I’m pretty sure when Fulham got to the final, they wanted to win it and wouldn’t be calling it a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ if they did, or take the League Cup for example as well, that’s classed as a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ by a lot of people, but every Liverpool fan I’ve talked to hasn’t called it the ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ they’ve defended their club by saying ‘Yeah, but we won the League Cup’. So everyone that calls the Europa League a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ answer this question, if you’re team, whether it be Liverpool, Wolves or Wycombe, won the Europa League, would you say it’s only a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ or would you celebrate? Most supporters would pick the second. So this is something people should consider when writing cups off as ‘Mickey Mouse Cups’.

Overall, what I’m trying to say, is the Europa League is a good competition, it’s entertaining and although there isn’t as much quality on show as the Champions League, the entertainment factor makes up for it, which is what football is all about, entertainment, football is a form of entertainment. So, I don’t think it is a ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ and I hope more people start to see this and it grows as a tournament, which it looks like it could.

This article was written by Tom Moseley, you can follow him on Twitter: @PlayedOfThePark .Check out his website too: http://playedoffthepark.blogspot.co.uk/

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