Manuel Pellegrini will return to England once again this week, with Real Betis taking on Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday. The Chilean coach has managed in England in 4 of the last 10 years, while spending 11 of the last 20 in Spain, making him as well placed as anyone to compare the two – he came out with some interesting thoughts on the matter.
The 69-year-old is at this point one of the most experienced in the game, and despite his age continues to manage at the top level, seemingly having discovered the secret of youth.
Speaking to Sid Lowe in The Guardian, it was put to Pellegrini that in La Liga there have been 98 red cards this season, while that figure is just 20 in the Premier League.
“England’s way is the right way. There’s less simulation and referees let it flow. The spectacle matters and there’s strength. City, United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, now Newcastle, could all compete for the league. The distribution of money is better, the amount generated. In Spain the gap is significant.”
There is little doubt about that, which can be seen in the salary limits of teams. Real Madrid are three places higher than Real Betis, but their limit is more than four times that of Betis.
However there is plenty of value in the Spanish game though too, according to Pellegrini.
“England is the best league but the best football is played in Spain. Look at the Champions League and Real Madrid or Barcelona are champions. In the Europa League, Villarreal and Sevilla.”
Ultimately the debate over which is better, in whichever facet, tends to come down to preference unless it can be measured in numbers. There is certainly concern in Spain over the figures in England of late though, with many feeling not just La Liga but the entire balance of European footballl is at threat from financial inequality.