Bored of the Olympics? Bored of my blogs about the Olympics? For a change in scenery, here is the first in a sporadic series of blogs about the Premier League season.
As always, the first weekend of the Premier League season brings a lot of anticipation, excitement, optimism, cliches and unanswered questions. Will Zlatan score on his 73rd debut in a row? Will Guardiola ‘Pep’ up Man City’s chances of success? Will Gary Lineker’s be wearing soiled under crackers on Match Of The Day?
Well everybody and nobody really. They are the ‘big’ questions the media thinks we are interested in but for the real footy fan, there are more pressing concerns.
Will the song for our new signing that I have been carefully crafting and tentatively posting on social media all summer really take off at our first away game? Will my gamble of making Jack Rodwell captain in my fantasy footy team pay off? Will my half baked theory about the new Premier League managers being ‘shite’ and my prediction that Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea will be the three clubs to go down really stand up to scrutiny?
These aren’t my questions I hasten to add, although I probably have some equally idiotic ones.
Your average season ticket holder will have one big question they want answering. Who will be sat next to me?
Well this season, it won’t be me. As an impoverished writer, I’ve had to implement some austerity measures and my season ticket was one of the first things to go. I had one at Roker Park, I had one in the West Stand of the Stadium of Light when it first opened and I’ve had one in the East Stand for nearly ten years. Long enough for my neighbours to get to know me, about five years ago they started acknowledging me, a couple of years back they started striking up conversations and towards the end of last season I think one of them learnt my first name. It was time to leave on a high.
If you find yourself sitting in row 38, seat 384 please treat it with respect, they aren’t a bad bunch.
Now that the pre match warm up is over with, it’s time for this armchair pundit to give his review of the weekend.
With one game left to play, I am firmly rooted to the bottom of every fantasy footy league I have entered. This is no surprise, I am usually there until Christmas then stage a Sunderland style revival and finish up mid table.
The League kicked off with last season’s champions Leicester up against an absolute shambles of a club in Hull City. Hull had only three fit senior players, no manager, a chairman who is hated by their fans nearly as much as their ‘mauled by the tigers’ chant is hated by the rest of the world and a they are in the middle of a police investigation after someone at the club mysteriously racked up a £700,000 bill on a Greggs charge card last season.
There was only going to be one winner and so it proved. Hull picked up their first (and probably last) three points of the season. It also buggered up the lads’ accumulator after I foolishly broke the ‘don’t bet on the early match’ rule.
Cliche rating: 7/10 Found out, team spirit, against the odds etc etc.
Next up were the 3pm kick offs involving most of the games you didn’t give a shit about.
How can you pick who you want to lose out of Palace v West Brom? Everyone hates Pardew and Pulis hates football. As tedious as you would expect, cheerleaders, plastic fans and three hundred breaks in play. Basically American Football without the hot dogs. West Brom won if you care.
Boro versus Stoke sounds as appealing as picking up a pizza slice from a piss stained pavement and so it proved. Not a lot happened apart from that bloke from the Euros who looks like R2D2 scored again. A one all stalemate.
Burnley versus Swansea, another one to set the pulse racing. Burnley showed their championship pedigree and lost to a weakened Swansea team whose fans have now adopted the ‘Iceland’ chant. (The clappy hands one, not Kerry Katona)
Southampton took on Watford and were looking to continue their Premier League form of recent seasons despite losing their manager and a couple of top players. One of them Pelle going to China for a ridiculous fee amongst rumours of mistaken identity with the Chinese thinking they were getting Pele of Escape To Victory Fame.
Everton v Spurs threatened to be the match of the 3pm kick offs with last season’s bottlers taking on Koeman’s rejuvenated Toffees. Ray Vaughan replaced Lloris early on after Gnarls Barkely rediscovered his ‘crazy’ form and scored from the front row of the stands. Spurs improved slightly and equalised in the second half.
All in all a bit of a dull start.
Last up on Saturday was Pep’s billionaires against a severely weakened Sunderland side. Sunderland handed out debuts to McLovin from Superbad, the beautifully named Lyndon Gooch and in the second half brought on a jockey called Paddy McNair and someone called Jimmy Jazz Hands we got from Man Utd. The apparently unsettled Kone looked solid alongside Kaboul and a spirited performance saw us fall to a plucky 2-1 defeat due to easy to avoid defensive mistakes. Same old, same old.
Super Sunday saw Man Utd easily beat Bournemouth with goals from Rooney, Zlatan and perpetual sulker Juan Mata. There’s some puns to be made from Juan’s name but I’m above making jokes based on such things.
Finally we saw the game of the weekend with Arsenal narrowly losing to Liverpool in a 23 goal thriller. Needless to say, not a single player in my fantasy team scored. Here’s to Liverpool narrowly missing out on winning anything yet again.