Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's already over?

Let's revisit some recent popular preseason conceptions.

2006-07: Liverpool, at last, is best prepared to challenge the defending champions, Chelsea, for the title. (Liverpool finished on 68 points, 15 behind second-place Chelsea and 21 behind the winners, Man U)

2007-08: Arsenal, while promising, are far too young and have a thin squad. They're in the running to drop from the top four. (Arsenal tops the table much of the year before a once-every-decade injury takes out Eduordo. They still finish third, four points behind the winners, Man U – again ... bleeecchh)

The conventional wisdom is always a great indicator – of what will almost certainly not happen. You might remember the frenzied certainty with which most English writers predicted Man U and Chelsea would contest the treble against each other over the course of roughly two weeks in May 2007. As the season played out, a fixture had to be rescheduled and there was to be three meetings between the clubs – if everything fell right – with everything on the line. Well, they played a drab FA Cup final that Chelsea won (without Time Warner giving me a refund on the PPV cost, much to my dismay). But Man U had the title locked up by the time of the league meeting and the Champions League final was played between ... Milan and Liverpool.

This year's conventional wisdom, as Colin pointed out, is that Man U and Chelsea are so hopelessly beyond the reach of any other club that there's basically an 18-team Premier League and then a two-team Super-Duper Premier League contested between the pocketbooks of Roman Abramovich and the Glazer family. Since the Russian is more super-rich than anyone else, United gets points among the pundits for having Fergie.


What looks like clear Chelsea dominance under a smart, tested manager could be knocked wobbly by the 30-year-old Lampard faltering and a simple twisted knee or three among Drogba, Essien, Terry or Carvalho. Nothing is certain. Ronaldo already has some injury problems that will keep him out. Berbatov could sign with United and then get into a little too much of this:

Who saw that coming this summer?

Before those determined to usher in the complete and total destruction of any semblance of competition in the Premier League ruin all our fun, just hold out. The matches are almost here. Sure, Wigan isn't going to finish in the top four, but nobody should hand Fergie/Big Phil the trophy right now. After all, the check hasn't cleared yet.


Colin said...

Drab ... too right. Worst FA Cup Final I've ever seen, that's for sure. Made all the worse by that damned garage door at Wembley.

Also, don't forget that while Arsenal had a young squad that nothing was expected of, they had also shipped off talisman Thierry Henry. Now, we all recognize that it was the right move at the right time, but most of the punditry balked at the move and thought it would catapult the Gunners clear down to the Championship.

So yeah, how about they let us play 'em out.

Ian Smith said...

Totally agree with everything said It was one of, if not the worst FA Cup final in recent memory. Edging out the Satan vs Hitler final from the year before.
To paraphrase the legend that is Bill Shankly - if that game was played in my back yard I would draw the curtains.
The only hope when watching was that the 'Garage doors' would open and the Rancor would emerge to lay waste to the pompy faithful, if only to quite the incessent chanting of "Play on Pompy, Pompy play on"