I can imagine the conversation between Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and his PR team last season. “Sir, can we have something to do, please? It’s just…well… we’re bored.’’ “I’m sorry,’’ says Uncle Ricky, “but there’s nothing I can do about it. Take a half-day off. In fact, take the rest of the week. Enjoy yourselves.’’
Sir Alex Ferguson’s stroll to his final title as Manchester United gaffer may have been a masterclass, but it produced a climax comparable to that of The Sopranos – yes, it may have been clever, but we wanted fireworks!
This season, that’s exactly what we’re likely to get, without the need for hype. David Moyes has travelled 35 miles and footballing light years from Goodison Park to Old Trafford, where praise for producing outstanding consistency on a relatively small budget at Everton has been replaced by bags of money and gigantic expectations. Though, for the record, the list of United managers who won the title in their first season runs to exactly nobody. Not Busby, not Fergie, no one.
Not wanting to be outdone, Manchester City have sent Roberto Mancini’s scarf to excess baggage and flown in Manuel Pellegrini, who left Real Madrid talking of too many guitarists and not enough pianists, before doing impressive things at Málaga. Still, he feels like a relative stranger.
That cannot be said of Jose Mourinho, returning to Chelsea, a one-man headline generator with an unmatched ego. But he has a right to a big head, given he has won seven of the last ten league titles he has contested, in three of the top domestic leagues on the planet. And there has been a shiny trophy, to admire his reflection in, every full season since 2003.
If elite managerial changes happen in threes, then so do superstar transfer sagas with Bale, Rooney and Suarez all wrestling for the back pages daily. If the stories differ in terms of motivation, clubs and circumstance, they’re similar, it seems, in terms of bad advice. Liverpool will fancy their chances of progression under Brendan Rodgers with or without their Uruguayan biter, while Arsenal’s chances could hinge on the outcome of that particular soap.
Despite the circus, it’s worth remembering that Spurs have been the model of consistency over the past four seasons. If signings Paulinho and Roberto Soldado were alongside Bale, it’d leave Arsenal in a permanent cold sweat. Without Bale, it’s “as you were”, at best.
We should mention Roberto Martínez, fresh from FA Cup glory and relegation at Wigan, and now at Everton – which should ensure that the final positions of the red and blue of Merseyside are a close call.
The storylines just keep coming. Di Canio’s first full season at Sunderland; Newcastle with their new director of football. Will football explode or implode in the North East?
While the promoted sides, Crystal Palace, Hull and Cardiff, are the traditional bookies’ favourites to go straight back down, there’s a glut of teams with short enough odds to make their fans perspire a little.
Excitement at every turn, and the PR boys haven’t sent a single email.
Oh, I almost forgot! We now have GDS (Goal Decision Technology)! Last season the referees got three goal-line decisions wrong, so millions of pounds have been spent to rectify this. OK, not everything’s exciting.
Colin Murray and Friends is on Talksport at 10am on weekdays