Some relegation fights are better than title races

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 18.04.2016 21:12

This Saturday, I watched two games in a row, Sunderland versus Norwich City and Beşiktaş versus Sivasspor. Both games were more or less of the same quality level and both games were awful from all sides. There was no tactical set plays or repeated patterns, just a chaotic dogfight around the midfield. Nevertheless, while the former game was a relegation fight in the Premier League, the latter was another destination in the Turkish Super League leader's title race. Then I realized, also regarding the awful Istanbul derby last week, big Turkish clubs have almost all the material to compete with English teams, but it seems that they would be fighting against relegation if they were thrown into the Premier League.

However, I tried really hard to differentiate these two games for the sake of Turkish football, but eventually I could not. In almost every aspect, Sunderland and Norwich City seemed like a perfect match for Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. Just like top class Turkish teams, these two humble Premier League representatives were very shaky and hesitant about playing football and focused on preventing the other from creating opportunities. The poor ball was kicked from one side to the other, it seemed like almost no one wanted to play with it, or have ever wanted to play football.

Unfortunately, whenever I start watching Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray games, I encounter almost the same picture. The only difference is, given English fans are much better than Turkish fans both in quality and quantity, they literally make the game watchable despite the awful football. Just imagine the Liverpool-Borussia Dortmund game without the wonderful Liverpool fans; Klopp and his players would never be able to score three goals if it weren't for the raucous Kop. The same applies for Sunderland and Norwich too, dedicated and pure football fans make even relegation battles look charming.

This is what Turkish football is lacking most, there are few true football lovers in this country compared to the masses of vandals, hooligans and derby-day fans, who see football and stadiums as a tool for unloading their stress and hate. How to prevent these people from coming to stadiums is a different topic, but what is more important is to help true football lovers gain more followers and create a football-loving culture.

At this point, I'm not optimistic but if Turkish football can save itself from the chains of the old footballers-new commentators association and change its administrative system, which is being done right now, we will have a shot. Almost all European leagues are available to Turkish people right now and we have a generation who grew up with the Football, Championship and FIFA Manager series. Thus, the base of this project is almost ready, but without breaking the militaristic tutelage of people who are preaching the same irrational, unscientific and deliberately wrong information on TV channels and newspapers every day, we will continue to watch Premier League relegation parties with envy.

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