Eye On EPL

Can't wait for new generation of managers to add spark to boring EPL

The English Premier League (EPL) is the world's most popular football league but I think it needs a facelift.

That is because if you want to see great skills, superb tactics and clubs sticking to longstanding philosophies, you have to look to Spain, at Barcelona and Real Madrid.

In La Liga, Barca and Real have unique identities moulded by a philosophy running through their clubs. But the EPL is characterised by ugly wins and boring football. Last weekend proved that.

By now, you would have seen that embarrassing video clip of a Manchester United fan caught dozing off in the stands. Louis van Gaal's overcautious tactics are plain, uninspiring and leave players feeling stifled and fans bored.

True enough, the Red Devils again failed to entertain in their 1-0 home defeat by Southampton. Even if United ended up winning a game today, it would hardly placate supporters who have grown tired of watching their dull approach.

Now Mourinho is gone and with van Gaal possibly on his way out, we might see a return to entertaining football next season. Juergen Klopp's brand of relentless pressing and counter-attacks has been refreshing. And better still, Pep Guardiola is leaving Bayern Munich and wants to take charge of an EPL club next.

Arsenal's Invincibles team in the 2003-04 season were arguably the last great team of entertainers in the EPL. Their current team ooze creativity and style with the likes of Mesut Oezil and Santi Cazorla.

But they are too soft and shrink when they face abrasive rivals such as Chelsea, who have a reputation for stealing wins at all costs as the EPL's true experts at winning ugly.

Over the weekend, a smirking Diego Costa was once again the Gunners' bogeyman. He incurred the ire of Arsenal fans as Per Mertesacker was sent off for a tackle on the Spanish striker , who went on to score the winner.

The pain of this defeat added to last October's 0-2 loss to the same opponents, in a match marred by Costa's antagonistic antics.

While fans were treated to a rare goalfest during the match between Norwich City and Liverpool, the 5-4 scoreline was not an accurate reflection of the quality of play.

Rather, the game was strewn with woeful defensive errors from both teams.

Liverpool's victory was a far cry from the way Barcelona choke their opponents with their short passing game or how Real's Galacticos shine with their individual skills.

Unfortunately, this is the new era of English football. Even if you win ugly and get booed off the pitch, it does not matter because you have three points in the bag.

In Chelsea's case, it is celebrated, when you look at how their fans protested at former manager Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

Perhaps it is the pressure to deliver trophies and victories that is slowly eroding the creativity of the players, who are afraid to take risks and play freely. Teams just come out and defend, yet still expect to win the game.

Last season's Chelsea were arguably the most boring team to have won the league. But they got the title and that is what is most important.

Now Mourinho is gone and with van Gaal possibly on his way out, we might see a return to entertaining football next season.

Juergen Klopp's brand of relentless pressing and counter-attacks has been refreshing.

And better still, Pep Guardiola is leaving Bayern Munich and wants to take charge of an EPL club next. He will bring with him Barcelona's DNA and he is a man who does not believe in winning dirty.

This new generation of coaches could possibly change the face of the EPL.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Can't wait for new generation of managers to add spark to boring EPL'. Print Edition | Subscribe