It is no secret that new UEFA president Michel Platini is looking to revamp the current format of the Champions League. But is it a good idea?
Under the current format the English, Italian and Spanish clubs that finish in the top four of their respective league are rewarded with a place in the Champions League. But Platini’s new proposal would alter this slightly by rewarding the winner of each league’s premier domestic cup with the final Champions League place rather than the league’s fourth-place finisher. The idea behind his proposal is to put some of the importance back on competitions like the FA Cup and get some more variety in the teams that qualify for the Champions League.
Despite the fact that no club outside of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or Liverpool has won the competition since 1991, I actually think this is quite a nice idea. I feel that a little bit of the magic has gone out of the FA Cup in the past few years and the extra incentive of a Champions League place would make for better games. All of a sudden, moderately important FA Cup quarter-finals become vitally important for the big clubs sitting on the fringes of the third league position.
Can you imagine a final where a smaller club like Aston Villa played against a bigger club like Chelsea and the prize was not only the FA Cup itself but a place in the Champions League? It would be incredibly high-pressured and unpredictable, something that cannot be said of a lot of the FA Cup finals of late, Liverpool’s remarkable win over West Ham excluded.
It is worth saying that I am a massive fan of Arsenal and would love to see them qualify for the Champions League every single season for the next one hundred years. But I also believe that giving the smaller clubs more opportunity to achieve success is vital to maintaining an entertaining and enjoyable competition. And while Arsene Wenger and even Jose Mourinho are apparently happy with the format change it seems that the boards of the top Premier League clubs are not.
A recent conference held to discuss the new proposal has led Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry to declare that the the current top four Premier League clubs as well as Newcastle United are opposed to the change for the very same reason that I am not; because it makes the competition more unpredictable.
“It’s not a question of self-interest by the big clubs. It’s just more of a lottery in the cup. There is a strong feeling the Champions League place should be based on Premier League performance.”
The only way to alter this predictable opinion is to change the system and Platini is looking to do just that. Even if it means supporters of Arsenal have to be content with watching the club play in the UEFA Cup on a more regular basis, I would love to see the format changed and the FA Cup winner be rewarded with a Champions League place.
Eduardo, Diarra, Gallas, Vela and Fabianski
Turning the attention to matters on the football field, a number of Arsenal players were again in action for their respective national sides overnight. Most notably, Eduardo da Silva scored his third goal in a week for Croatia as they destroyed Andorra and Lassana Diarra played a full 90 minutes at right back as France were stunned 0-1 by Scotland. Thankfully, French manager Raymond Domenech refrained from playing a not fully fit William Gallas despite recent indications that he might.
I received word from regular reader MexicanGunner that Arsenal’s young Mexican striker Carlos Vela is set to make his debut for his country in a friendly against Gilberto Silva’s Brazil today. For those that don’t know, Vela is currently on loan with Spanish club Osasuna to gain top-flight experience before returning to Arsenal for next season and is definitely one for the future. I’ll be sure to let you know how he performs.
Finally, Arsene Wenger has cleverly taken some of the focus off the Jens Lehmann-Manuel Almunia goalkeeper situation by turning his attention to current third-choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Wenger has mentioned that he has been impressed with Fabianski’s progress so far and dismissed suggestions that he should go out on loan to gain experience.
“I think Fabianski will be a great keeper. For me he will become the best Polish keeper. He will get his chance but he is only 22-years-old. So far I have been very, very impressed with him.”
And that is about it. Apart from this. Classic.
I’m very keen to hear your thoughts on today’s post, particularly the Champions League debate, and I encourage you to have your say by leaving a comment.