English Hyper League
Complaining about Premiership hype is clearly futile. Rationally I know that. But the idealist in me can’t help it. Maybe somebody else is listening. It’s how Ghandi started. Also Jim Jones and David Koresh, but we’ll side-step that for now because two games into the new Premiership season and the hype machine is out of control.
The opening weekend of the season saw Liverpool play Arsenal in a game that was being described as the “battle for fourth”. Neither team had yet played a game. But given that, as the league stood then, Blackpool had already qualified for the Champions League I was perhaps wrong to overlook the season defining importance of the game’s outcome.
Then on Monday, during the half-time analysis of Man Utd and Fulham, there were pundits declaring Paul Scholes as an early contender for player of the season. This after a mere 135 minutes of football. Maybe it didn’t happen though. Perhaps I was just in some kind of surreal Inception-style altered reality.
But now I have just listened to a Talksport reporter bill Stoke’s League Cup game against Shrewsbury as a “must win” because Tony Pulis’ side have made their “worst ever start to the Premiership.” Stoke, let us not forget, have played a grand total of two games and been in the EPL three seasons. Clearly it’s a record that should have any manager sacked.
I exaggerate of course. I know that football results don’t exist in a vacuum. They are played out against a club’s wider narrative which is as much fact as media fiction. But I want to make a plea for sanity. All this froth and lather is just embarrassing. It leads to the absurd exaggerated scrutiny of every game which results in managers having the life expectancy of kamikaze pilots.
I’m reminded of the advice of a manager from a bygone football era, “never look at the league table until Christmas.” Journalists, pundits and fans alike would all do well to remember that.