Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Stop Whining and Win The Bloody Games!

The first knock-out round of the Champions League has left some of the usual suspects sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the competition. For the first time in a long time, no Spanish teams made it to the quarterfinals, which will also be without English giants Arsenal and Manchester United. You would think that the proper response to this by coaches would be to improve the squad and play better next year. Not quite. First Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, and now ManU's chief exec, suggest that something must be done to assure more "big" clubs make the quarterfinals. "It's not good for the big clubs, not good for TV and sponsors if there are no Spanish clubs in the quarter-finals," says ManU's exec. Notice that the teams that actually won in the last round (minnows such as AC Milan!) and the fans are left out of that equation. I've no doubt that ManU's bottom line would be better if they made the quarters (or semis or final), but that's not what competition is all about. And if smaller clubs are making it further into the competition, that only proves that maybe money isn't more important that raw talent.

The solution to this supposed problem would be a seeding system, similar to the NCAA tournament. Maybe Wenger and company would like to check with the likes of Wake Forrest (go Moutaineers!), Syracuse, and Kansas to see how well that works at keeping the "big clubs" in the big dance?

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