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Premier League is falling behind

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Nick Webster

Nick Webster has been the voice of the Barclays Premier League, FIFA World Cup's and UEFA European Championships in America since 2001. Insightful, provocative and entertaining, you'll always find him at the heartbeat of the action with stories that matter.
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Every empire has its day and top-flight English football likes to think that since the inception of the Premier League, everyday has been a glorious coronation of its greatness.

Like all empires though, they eventually crash, burn and consign themselves to the history books. If you take a look at all the major leagues of Europe there have always been periodical swings of domination in terms of prestige and power.

English football during the 60’s and the afterglow of the World Cup win was the place to be until the 70’s when the Bundesliga took center stage. In the 80s it was all about Serie A, while the mid-to-late 90s La Liga held sway. However, since the noughties, in terms of viewership, influence and money, the Premier League has been the 800-pound gorilla – those days are over, although there will be a regime change there, of that there is no doubt.

Manchester City failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League. (Photo by Michael Regan /Getty Images)

The Premier League is dying, season-by-season, game-by-game.

Admittedly it is hard to notice given all the noise, hype and excitement but look closely at the quality on offer and there can be no other conclusion.

Just take a good, long hard look at the top six of the table, which currently contains the elite of the English game.

For sure, Manchester City deserves to be on top after their best start to a campaign ever but they’re not even good enough to qualify for the knockout stages of the Uefa Champions League. This is with a squad that was purchased with the kind of money that could fund a small country.

Manchester United, like rivals City, will be playing Europa League football this season. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Manchester United sit comfortably in second place but like City they’re also out of the Champions League (unless of course, FIFA decide to massage some rules). They’ve been humbled in the Carling Cup by Championship side Crystal Palace and have the weakest, flimsiest squad I’ve seen in the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.

In third place and realistically punching above their weight is Tottenham Hotspur. This is a club that bowed out of the Carling Cup at the first opportunity and didn’t need a second invitation to bail from the Europa League either.

Tottenham's Champions League exploits of last season are just a memory after they were knocked out of the Europa League. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Chelsea round out the Champions League places in fourth but they’re hopelessly inconsistent. Andre Villas-Boas has been given the keys to the kingdom but he’s barely out of managerial diapers and if he survives the season I’d be flabbergasted.

Staying in London, the Gunners have stabilized after looking like a club that was all but ready to implode but they’re strictly in rebuilding mode and unlike the previous four clubs, they are a one man team. Seriously if Mr. Glass, aka Robin van Persie, picked up an injury where do we honestly see them in the big picture?

Rounding out English royalty is Liverpool who is strictly a work in progress. It really is a case of two steps forward, one step backwards on Merseyside as they flatter and then deceive in equal measures.

Let's stack up all these clubs and measure them against the cream of Europe and the teams striving to create a new Empire for themselves.

In Spain the best side in the world, Barcelona, along with the second best side on the planet, Real Madrid, are so far out of sight, it's not funny. The squads are deeper, the youth academies are more advanced and the football they play is from another stratosphere.

Best team on the planet. Barcelona is way ahead of any team in the Premier League (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich have already proved that they can beat the best the England has to offer by giving City a lesson in how to play the beautiful game in a late September Champions League match. Yes, the Germans lost the return at Eastlands but qualification was already in the bag and they put out a weakened team.

Then there is the once sick man of Europe, Italy, which can boast three clubs in Europe’s top competition. There is no doubt that Inter are a shadow of their former selves, but AC Milan and Napoli are forces to be reckoned with.

So let me ask you this: In a best-of-five match could any English team beat these clubs from Spain, Germany and Italy?

For sure, you’d fancy a win or two in a one-off situation but in terms of quality and consistency I'd take the continent anytime. That’s not easy for me to say as I’d like to think I'm a huge cheerleader for my domestic league but it's not far from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that we've spent the last ten years on top and we’ve become fat, soft and complacent. English football, while exciting and competitive as witnessed by the classic at the Etihad on Sunday between City and Arsenal, is in for a rude awakening.

It's time to wake up and look towards Europe for answers. Despite having a run in Europe in the late 70s, early 80s, we did spent almost thirty years as football Neanderthals. Let' not let it happen again.

Nick Webster is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering the Barclays Premier League and the English national team.

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