A First Time Footballer

Having watched snippets of last weekend’s games and spent a fair bit of time with two of my football-mad friends, I feel relatively clued-up about the Premier League’s latest happenings. The core theme of my post this week is the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel nature of the Premier League.

I’ll begin with Manchester United. A couple of weeks ago, after Man United’s surprise loss against Swansea, I appealed to fans to give poor Louis van Gaal more time before giving up hope. I felt bad for the United manager – who hadn’t had much time to settle into his new role and was dealing with injuries plus a lack of decent arrivals over the Summer. So, I was pleased to see their hefty 4-0 win over QPR at the weekend: “By the end I hope to be a Premier League champion, if not this year, then in the second or third”, rejoiced van Gaal. Now Louis, whilst it was great to see a stadium full of delighted fans and a team refuelled with self-belief, you can’t afford to get too carried away. Even I am fully aware of how quickly the fate of certain teams can change from match to match.

Take Brazil in the 2014 World Cup – they more or less cruised through the group stages and were many people’s favourite to go all the way in the competition. This was before one of the biggest shocks in footballing memory took place where Germany thrashed the Brazilians 7-1 in the semi-finals – a game that will go down in history! The Man United manager might want to calm down a bit and not get supporters fired up in a frenzy with rash predictions about a league that has only really just started. Not only is it a rather hasty projection so early in the competition, but also the impressive victory was down to a number of factors that have the potential to drastically change throughout the season.

Di Maria was supposedly the man that made the difference at the weekend, scoring his first United goal within half an hour of his home debut – it seems that the £59.7 million signing was worth every penny. However, it’s a dangerous idea to put all your eggs in one basket – we saw how Uruguay lost all momentum after superstar Suarez was banned in the World Cup. Di Maria’s future performance is dependant on a lot of factors – not meshing well with his new club, personal issues or injury all have the potential to rule him out of the season. Furthermore, QPR put on a particularly poor performance and United still face some challenging games.

Aston Villa have also showcased the unpredictable nature of the Premier League – with a pleasantly surprising victory against Liverpool at the weekend. I was busy in my kitchen late on Saturday afternoon, when I heard an ecstatic screeching, followed by a series of bangs, coming from my living room. When I went to investigate, I found my Villa obsessed friend grinning on the sofa after Agbonlahor had just scored, 9 minutes into the match. From my limited knowledge of Villa, I knew better than to let him get over-excited – there was still plenty of time for it to go to pot. I was surprised to return, 63 minutes into the match, to find the score line still at 1-0 to Aston Villa. When the final whistle was blown, there was further screeching from the sofa followed by more than a couple of beers. To my restricted Premier League knowledge, Villa don’t have the most fantastic reputation with regard to their performance, so I have to hand it to them – they’ve had a brilliant start to the league, where they currently sit in 2nd place.

There is, of course, a however. They haven’t had such a promising start to their Premier League campaign since 1998-99 and even then they dropped from the top spot at Christmas 1998 to finish 6th at the end of that season. Furthermore, their next four games are going to be extremely tough, even the most optimistic Villa supporter isn’t expecting four wins, and so it looks like their luck could be rapidly changing fortunes. Even just by looking at the first few games played by only two Premier League teams – with an array of surprise wins and shocking losses – it’s easy to see why it can be such an addictive sport to watch. Hopes are regularly raised and dashed as the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel Premier League progresses. 

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