Adam Lovejoy writes from London: Finally, the weekend that millions of people were waiting for has arrived: the new Premiership league season has kicked off.
No more struggling to find something to talk about with your mates at your local. No more humiliating ventures into the world of the Olympic Games, with their obscure sports and names of athletes that no one has ever heard before and no one really cares about. It’s now back to the familiar territory of football with heated discussions about transfers and hamstring injuries. Boring people can once again feel confident enough to demonstrate some pretty fancy knowledge of the latest footie gossip, talking lots of bollocks, but in a serious way with others listen attentively.
The biggest secret about the Premiership and professional football generally is that it gives something to talk about to huge numbers of people who otherwise would struggle to find subjects to excel in. Discussing stuff on the box and the weather is not really handy when you’re a tattooed brute with limited command of the language, having missed most of school, while enjoying your third or fourth pint. It has to be some macho talk, dealing with matters that make you look tough and even well informed. Football like no other sport provides this sort of conversation, while being not too demanding for the scarce grey matter. Not to mention that passions can erupt and keep on running high about some player changing clubs or saying something about another player, with fans expressing their strong feelings about it for the duration of the whole season – if not several seasons. Ask any QPR supporter what he feels about Chelsea’s John Terry and he will get all wound up about him offending that genius, defender Anton Ferdinand, even though it happened last October. Or ask anyone about Fernando Torres in Liverpool and hear all sorts of niceties about that ‘c..t’ moving to Chelsea.
This season tensions are running very high over Robin van Persie who has left Arsenal to join Manchester United, having been promised more money, the ungrateful prick. Arsenal supporters have been voicing their anger about it, with some of them even saying that RvP would be better off dead than playing for Man U. All sorts of weasel football commentators cunningly encouraged the controversy, while pretending that they did not approve of the strong language and foul-mouthed statements. (Of course you do approve, you cunning bastards! That is one of the ways of keeping the interest in the game that brings food to your table.)
Technically speaking, the whole Premiership has moved to Manchester now where the two main contenders for the league are now residing. The contest this season would be between Man U and Man City while the others would be making the usual noises and promising to upstage the two northern giants. Arsenal would be the loudest of them all in this war of words, having missed out on all the silverware for the past eight years. The poor Gunners’ fans will once again be hoping that Arson Wenger would finally deliver this season and break the vicious cycle. He won’t, of course, because his main aim is not to win titles but to see to it that his club delivers a near perfect game. Arsene, you see, is way past it and should have been sent packing a couple of years ago at least. But as it stands, he is still liked by Arsenal’s board of directors and that’s what really matters in football.
Chelsea will be obviously making an effort to capitalise on its dodgy performance in the final of the European Champions League, having played abysmally compared to Bayern Munich but still managing to win. But it is difficult to imagine that the Blues would be able to outplay the two heavy hitters from Manchester. Gone are the days when owner Roman Abramovich could whip out his cheque book and buy anyone he wanted. Big money is now the name of the game in the Premiership as a whole, with Manchester City being able to outrun the Blues when it comes to spending power.
Expect lots of high misplaced expectations to do with Tottenham posing a threat to the Manchester duo that will never really materialise in the end. Just as it happened in the past. And Liverpool will also be closely watched for signs of its former greatness, failing in the end, as usual as well.
Will anyone remember England’s abysmal performance at Euro2012? Nah, that was just some non-essential international tournament where most of the Premiership top stars were actually playing for other teams. So why bother remembering how Premiership underdogs fared there?
The funniest thing about the start of the any Premiership season is the way clubs in the bottom half are sometimes propelled to the very top of the table, simply because they manage to win a couple of opening matches with some other outsiders, sharing the top slots with the big heavies for a week or two. Expect excited commentaries about some Swansea or Reading making ‘the biggest upstage’ in the Premiership history, with weasel faced commentators seriously discussing all these crazy options as if they actually make any sense.
Still, as I have pointed out already, the Premiership season has come to the rescue of many people who find social intercourse difficult. And that alone must make sense for the Premiership to exist.