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Some things just don’t make any sense. Until they do.
In the world’s most popular team sport the English Premier League was already statistically Europe’s strongest league when it suddenly was infused with more TV money than any other league could have hoped for. It was clear that the next decade would be dominated by clubs from just one league. And it was; by Spain’s La Liga. Never had any league ever earned as many as 20 “UEFA Coefficient Points” in a season, La Liga did so for years in a row. One year not one Spanish team was knocked out of Europe except by another Spanish side!
Spain’s domination was so complete that at one point Spanish teams had won 19 out of a possible 20 trophies winnable in international club competition. Head to head against the Premier League Spanish teams had won something like 47 out of 50 knockout ties. English and Spanish teams had met in finals 9 times in 15 years with La Liga going 9-0 and outscoring their EPL rivals 25-7.
All of this made no sense. The Premier League was better run, had more cash to splash on the best players, distributed their cash more fairly among the clubs, and the individual clubs were better run and were resting on firmer financial and even cultural ground. La Liga was, and is, always in chaos, doesn’t manage itself or its image well, and always has teams on the verge of bankruptcy. So how was Athletic Bilbao crushing Manchester United? Why was Sevilla, who sold its best player to Liverpool, beating Liverpool?
In retrospect, the answer was simple: too much money spent on players, not enough time on coaching. If a team had a weakness they’d spend huge cash on the best player available at that position; rinse and repeat. When that didn’t work teams fired coaches and hired new ones starting the whole process from scratch, all the while assuming pure talent would overcome all obstacles. Essentially the entire league became Galáctico era Real Madrid. Long on sizzle, short on steak. Bad news in a team sport.
Fast forward to two weeks ago and…everything turned around. La Liga has still outperformed all of the other leagues in Europe, but the EPL has risen to the top with all 4 teams in both major finals being English, while thrashing a number of Spanish clubs along the way.
And what does all of this have to do with Rational Urbanism?
The Stock Market.
The National Debt.
The Housing Bubble.
Where these things stand, how they are playing out, how they are perceived, just doesn’t make any sense to me. I have no idea what all the mechanisms are which are at play of course, they are much more complex than a little team sport. As a fan of La Liga I enjoyed the insanity of its total domination of world football all the while knowing it wouldn’t last. As a fan of living a fairly boring life the opposite is true of what seems to be the obvious reversals facing us due to the systems and issues listed above. Things that can’t go on forever, don’t. At one point, just two weeks ago it seemed as though an insane status quo in European football which had lasted for over a decade would continue, and then over just 48 hours, it all changed.
Our understanding of “all of the above” could be transformed in almost as little time. As Emerson expressed it, I have to be true to me, to who I am, and to what I believe. I can’t pretend to believe things I don’t believe, or to trust in things I do not trust. I foresee turbulent times ahead. How far ahead?
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¡Viva el Betis, ‘manque’ pierda!