Dull, Dull, Dull… by Richard Nevin
It’s not the Greatest League in the World. We all know that. Neither is it the most exciting, the most unpredictable or anything else, except probably the richest and definitely the most over-hyped. It’s the Premier League, and for those of us outside looking in, it’s one of two things. Either you’ve not been in it, and you think of it as the Holy Grail of football. Or you’ve been there and you know it just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
More often than not it’s dull. Just look at the situation less than a month into the new season. Watford, Southampton, Bournemouth, possibly Brighton, Palace, Leicester, Newcastle, Everton and West Ham are already all treading water with the hope, perhaps, of Europa League qualification even after spending some huge amounts. Fanciful ideas of top four will soon dissipate, cup runs stymied by the picking of weakened sides in order to tread water in the league and all they can realistically hope for is the glamour of playing a couple of games in Eastern Europe and home legs in grounds that’ll be half-full if they’re lucky.
And then they might, if they do really well, play a few more games against teams who either got knocked out of the Champions League before it started or weren’t good enough to get there in the first place. Like the club you used to go to when you were too skint or too pissed to get into the good ones, nobody wants to be in the Europa League but that’s the extent of ambition for two-thirds of the Premier League.
The newly-promoted sides at least have a target, namely survival. Those who came up last season are anxious that the novelty doesn’t wear off too soon, as it inevitably will, and the TV money won’t dry up. Huddersfield may well drop this season, with only the DVD of a goalless late season draw at home to Manchester United as the highlight of their stay.
To be fair to Burnley, their European run is fantastic but it could be over before the kids go back to school, after which they will look to tread water in the league, with survival and the faint hope of another brief European tour the only things keeping their season alive.
Come January and clubs who haven’t won a trophy for decades and are in no danger of relegation will treat the FA Cup as an excuse to “give the kids a run out” because ninety minutes against Fleetwood might tire out an expensively-trained and highly-conditioned professional sportsman and dropping a point might mean finishing a place lower in the league, which is more financially lucrative than winning the cup.
Hughes, Roy, Howe, and the rest will be saying the same things over and over and over again, moaning minnies like Mourihno and Warnock will be bleating at every turn. Arsenal supporters will be demanding Emery’s head by Christmas because they deserve better, they just do. Spurs’ new stadium will be grabbing the headlines, whether or not it ever gets finished.
Chelsea will be winning and still looking fed up and Wolves will be lighting fireworks every five minutes and the word ‘Honved’ will be used every time they get a point against a team above them in the league They’ll more than likely finish comfortably in mid-table, which is a decent achievement for a side new to the party but that won’t be enough for their supporters, who expect world domination by the end of the decade.
That leaves Liverpool and Manchester City to do the entertaining, and how much are they spending again? It’s all a predictable, money-fuelled, narcissistic orgy of self-congratulation and as often gets said, the sooner it all blows up in their faces, the better.
And here’s me, wishing for the next nine months that we’ll be joining the ‘party’.
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