The erratic locomotive prediction machine agitates once more into action
English football descended into pandemonium this week as fans and pundits alike have been unashamedly changing their Premier League predictions after just two games. Not since the Kaiser Chiefs predicted a riot but instead brought five albums of toilsome, handjive-cum-bodypop shuffle-pop has there been such collective nationwide indifference.
Last season, Paddy Power settled all bets on Chelsea to win the league in November, but whispers that multiple bookies are preparing to do the same for Manchester City after 2 comprehensive wins and 6 goals from their first 2 games are still unfounded. There were not many preseason bets for City to become champions anyway, but according to one anonymous source, a Mr David M from San Sebastian could be set to win big after placing a considerable stake supporting Manchester United’s “noisy neighbors”.
The consensual reason for City’s explosive start to the season is that nobody was talking about them before the season started. “Nobody was talking about us before the season started!” said one City fan after their 3–0 thrashing of Chelsea. “Before the season started, no-one was talking about us!” another agreed. Silence speaks volumes, and the premier league is undeniably a haven for shy young men to quietly ply their trade. Maybe it is time for everybody to stop endlessly banging on about Sunderland, Aston Villa and Norwich to finally give them a fair chance in the league of hush.
Perhaps then it was the relentless discussion of Chelsea — during a spectacularly exciting preseason in which they signed Asmir Begovic, altered their training ground drills, and had a 1–1 draw with PSG — which has led to their demise. Seven out of eleven of the Guardian’s football journalists predicted that Chelsea would be champions, and though not mathematically impossible for The Blues to retain their title, City are 5 points clear with just 36 games to go. Last season Jose Mourinho criticized Chelsea fans for the lack of noise at Stamford Bridge, but a bit of City’s motivational preseason silence wouldn’t go amiss right now.
It is worth mentioning that not all preseason predictions have turned out wrong. As many foresaw, Harry Kane has been a victim of second season syndrome, with a pitiful 0 goals from 2 games. Louis van Gaal and Manchester United are still making fans hate their favourite sport by playing a kind of pseudo-football, where 11 men who look like professional athletes hypnotize their adversaries into losing by playing such boring football that their opponents eventually lose all concentration and get distracted by their own internal dialogues. Predictions that “this could be Arsenal’s year” were extinguished 90 minutes into their campaign, but, as everyone who said it was secretly, knowingly lampooning themselves — a giddy, much-loved annual tradition — those predictions don’t count.
Contrary to popular activity, some observers are urging patience. After Manchester United’s laborious 1–0 win against Aston Villa, one fan outside Villa Park was quoted as saying “It wasn’t great, but you can’t judge a season after just two games. It’s a 38 game season and there are 108 points to play for. Things change quickly in football. Let’s not get too carried away just yet.” However, his words were quickly suffocated by a claret-gilded wave of “boring, boring Man United”.