Premier League’s fight for the title comes down to the wire

It is another big weekend for soccer fans, everything from the Premier League title race to the upcoming Champions League final. Roger Bennett, a British American broadcaster, author and filmmaker, and co-host of the Men in Blazers podcast, joins Geoff Bennett to break down the latest.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    It is another big weekend for soccer fans everything from the Premier League title race to the upcoming Champions League final. Lucky for us, we've got Roger Bennett, no relation, to help us break it all down. Roger is a British American broadcaster, author and filmmaker. He's also the co-host of the Men in Blazers podcast Roger, it's great to have you with us, friend.

    Roger Bennett, Co-Host of Men in Blazers: Geoff Bennett, it's a joy to be with you.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    So let's talk about the Premier League title race. How did that race become so competitive between Manchester City and Liverpool? And I asked the question because at one point, Manchester City had a dominant 14 point lead over Liverpool in the standings, and then it all fell apart.

  • Roger Bennett:

    In January, everything changed. Manchester City an Abu Dhabi own powerhouse. Liverpool owned by the Boston Red Sox group. This has been like watching Rocky and Apollo Creed go round for round city or a nation state back team hoping to win their fourth title in five years. I like a footballing terminator, but it also roughly $2 billion invested in the team by their owner Sheikh Mansour and the pillars tactics of their manager, a gentleman called Pep Guardiola. I think Catalan, Stanley Tucci, but he attacks tactics with the frenzy of Russell Crowe, in a beautiful mind in the search for footballing perfection.

    And Liverpool have taken another pathway. They're backed by American sports entrepreneurs, John Henry, and Tom Werner, and they don't have infinite wallets. But what they do have is a sense of statistics and analysis, which they've taken from their ownership of the Boston Red Sox. And they've created a powerhouse by looking for intangibles in talent and recruitment. And they also have a German manager, Jurgen Klopp, who is really a human phenomenon. He's essentially a large Teutonic Care Bear dispensing wisdom and hugs on the road to glory and Liverpool are challenging for an unprecedented quadruple, Geoff, a clean sweep of every tournament they've entered. And it is remarkable to watch these two different approaches, these two heavyweights. We can't wait round on round just slaying all comers.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    You always paint quite a picture, Roger. I want to ask you about Dane Murphy, because this is quite an inspiring story. He's this 36 year old American, a former D.C. United player. He's successfully turned around the once great but more recently underachieving Nottingham Forest Football Club. Tell us about him?

  • Roger Bennett:

    Dave Murphy's intriguing story, he is a 36-year-old from Redding, Connecticut. He was a professional footballer in MLS and Nottingham Forest are essentially a great gardens of a footballing club. They were great in the 1980s, but they fallen below the ice and they're in an essentially the footballing equivalent of AAA baseball and comes this gentleman Dane Murphy, he's a brilliant mind, he chopped at the dead wood, promoted young players, brought in one of the best young managers. And when he inherited the team, they were at the bottom of the pile, but he's overseen a worst in their first season. Nottingham Forest started off with their worst campaign in 108 years, but they're now in the final four. And one of these into essentially a footballing final for one of the teams that emerges from this will be promoted into the Major League, the Premier League, and it's worth 165 million they call it the richest game in sports. And so when you look at Dane Murphy, he's further proof that American men, we're not quite world class yet at football, but we're so bloody good at owning teams, and also running them.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    So you talked about what the promotion to the Premier League means financially. What does it mean emotionally for some of these clubs?

  • Roger Bennett:

    Well, this promotion, which is moving up, there's also relegation, it's at the bottom three teams in the Premier League get punished for their dismal performance. In America, if you've had a bad year, you just say we're rebuilding, we get a great draft pick. In England, it's much more ruthless, the bottom three teams are flung out through the Moon Door, essentially relegated thinking baseball if the Cincinnati Reds were punished for being so important and move down and let the Portland Sea Dogs moved into the major leagues. So for the fans of the team, many of whom have generational memories. It can be utterly, utterly crushing. My team that I support Everton have been flirting with relegation and I say football has given me some of the sweetest memories in my life and my grandparents, with my parents, with my own children. But this darkness of the possibility of relegation right now, I couldn't hate it more. And it's fairly all-consuming but for Nottingham Forest and Dane Murphy, if they can come up, they will never have to buy a drink in that town again.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Indeed. As we wrap up this conversation, I want to shift our focus to the states here and talk about the Champions League because at the start of this month, the Seattle Sounders won this one the Concacaf Champions League, a historic victory for that team. Tell us about it.

  • Roger Bennett:

    The MLS has been trying to win this Champions League which features the club teams of our whole region, North America, Central America for the last two decades. It's become a real symbol that they utterly crave. They failed time and time again. But the Seattle Sounders beat Mexican team Pumas. I mean, Mexico has always felt like the Scooby Doo League and MLS has felt like Scrappy Doo and they beat them five-two in front of a packed stadium of 68,000 delirious fans in Seattle. The club really is reinforcing its status as the jewel of our nation a first win for MLS in this tournament in 20 years. Seattle will go into the Club World Cup where they could play the likes of Liverpool or Real Madrid and really test themselves at the highest level. And when you watch those delirious scenes, Geoff, we've always joked on our show that Soccer is America's sport of the future as it has been since 1972. But when you look at the scenes you get a sense that it's really the sport now.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Indeed, Roger Bennett, always great to speak with you. Thanks for making time for us.

  • Roger Bennett:

    Send my love to Judy Woodruff.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    I absolutely will.

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