I’m starting to get the feeling that there is a media conspiracy in the media on both sides of the Atlantic to cause antagonism and friction between English football supporters and their American counterparts. The latest salvo in this “war” (and remember, kids that this is a very quiet time of year on British newspaper sports desks) has come from the formerly goatee-bearded buffoon Alexi Lalas who, when interviewed this week, described the Premier League as an “inferior product”.
Now, we have to take everything that Lalas says with a pinch of salt. He’s pretty well known in the States as something of a self-publicist, and what better time could there be for a self-publicist to self publicise than on the eve of David Beckham’s arrival at LA Galaxy – the team that Lalas is the president of. It suits him just fine for Galaxy to make headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.
It’s a pity, though, that he took the tack that he took at the time that he did. Of course The Premier League isn’t as good as the press hype it up to be. Football played on the moon by dinosaurs couldn’t be as good as the press make it out to be. However, to try and claim that MLS is anywhere near the standard of the Premier League is ridiculous, and merely confirms the lazier prejudices of journalists on this side of the Atlantic, who are more than happy to play to the concept of Americans being idiots that don’t know anything at all about “proper” football.
Anyone that has seen MLS on the television in this country (and there is one match shown per week on Channel Five – it’s on at 4.45 in the morning on Mondays, in case you were wondering) can say with a degree of certainty that MLS “product” is, at the moment, inferior. It is slowly catching up with the rest of the world, but it will need time to develop. At the moment, the standard of play is somewhere near the bottom end of the Championship, and the average crowds reflect this. They hover at around the 15,000 mark and, although they are continuing to increase, this is relatively slowly. There is no danger of football taking over from the traditional American sports in the public’s affections.
It’s a slow summer, though, news-wise. The rumours surrounding club take-overs are largely only of considerable interest to geeks like me, and it seems unlikely now that there will be widespread big money transfers this summer. So, wheel in the loudmouths on both sides of the Atlantic, and let them sound off. Eventually, the barking noise will become so deafening that the only way to resolve it will be to have a World Soccer League Championship. And some people would get make quite a bit of money out of that. I’d venture to wager that one of them might turn out to be Alexi Lalas.