Time to dream of ti­tle cel­e­bra­tions

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

FOR ALL of you wring­ing your hands at the prospect of the new Premier League sea­son kick­ing off, it’s time to get ready for those all too fa­mil­iar anti-cli­maxes when promised Scin­til­lat­ing Satur­days, Su­per Sun­days and Mes­meris­ing Mon­days turn out to be as ex­cit­ing as watch­ing Oireach­tas Re­port on a loop.

I tend to be drawn more to the English Foot­ball League my­self and will re­li­giously tune in to Quest ev­ery Satur­day evening to catch up on the ac­tion from the Cham­pi­onship, League One and League Two, and as a Swin­don Town fan I’m kept wait­ing as they’re in the base­ment divi­sion that’s lower than a snake’s belly.

In com­plete con­trast to the money-fu­elled Premier League, the most ap­peal­ing thing about the lower di­vi­sions across the wa­ter is the un­pre­dictably of it all, and you gen­uinely could pick a glut of clubs in each league that have a re­al­is­tic chance of promotion, if not the ti­tle it­self.

On Satur­day, for the sixth sea­son in a row, Swin­don en­joyed a vic­tory on the open­ing day, but I won’t be counting my chick­ens just yet as most of those cam­paigns ended with lit­tle else but frus­tra­tion and a dash of dis­ap­point­ment.

How­ever, the hope al­ways re­mains as long as the dream is still alive, and that’s what keeps fans com­ing back for more ev­ery sea­son, de­spite year af­ter year of heartache.

I’m all too aware that for most the top flight is where it’s at and the long, drawn-out ti­tle race be­tween Manch­ester City and Liver­pool some­what saved the Premier League sea­son the last time around.

How­ever, once Pep Guardi­ola’s side got their noses in front there was an air of in­evitabil­ity about it all as it was im­pos­si­ble to see where they could pos­si­bly drop any points, such was the gap be­tween the top two and those sim­ply mak­ing up the num­bers.

That said, de­spite the league table il­lus­trat­ing oth­er­wise, there is strength in depth in Eng­land as they had the mo­nop­oly on the Euro­pean fi­nals, with Liver­pool best­ing Spurs in the Cham­pi­ons League de­cider and Chelsea get­ting the bet­ter of lo­cal ri­vals Ar­se­nal to lift the Europa League.

Af­ter top­pling records like bowling pins in the pre­vi­ous cam­paign and doggedly cling­ing on to their crown last sea­son, Manch­ester City will be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to stop in their bid for three-in-a-row.

The Cham­pi­ons League was the only tro­phy that eluded them last sea­son and their de­ter­mi­na­tion to put that right could be their Achille’s heel, but given the wealth of tal­ent at their dis­posal it’s dif­fi­cult to see them tak­ing their eye off the ball on the home front.

It’s pretty clear that their main ob­sta­cle will again be Liver­pool, af­ter Jur­gen Klopp’s men pushed them so hard last term and they ended the sea­son on a high, picking up the Cham­pi­ons League tro­phy their ef­forts de­served.

If any team are to profit from a City wob­ble, they are far and away the most likely to do so.

Tot­ten­ham look like the only side that have a prayer of bridg­ing the gap to the top two, although it would be very dif­fi­cult to en­vis­age them mak­ing up enough ground to sum­mon up a sus­tained ti­tle chal­lenge.

The top three in all like­li­hood will be Manch­ester City, Liver­pool and Spurs, in that or­der, with Chelsea, Manch­ester United and Ar­se­nal fight­ing out for the fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League spot.

De­spite their trans­fer em­bargo, Frank Lam­pard’s side might have enough to snatch fourth place, leav­ing United and Ar­se­nal out in wilder­ness yet again.

Given the un­pre­dictabil­ity of the lower half of the table, it’s prob­a­bly pru­dent to keep the pow­der dry re­gard­ing who I ex­pect to be rel­e­gated to the abyss of the Cham­pi­onship, although I’ll still be able to keep abreast of how they’re do­ing next sea­son when I flick on the high­lights show on Quest.

At the end of this term hope­fully yours truly will have a smile wider than the vast Wilt­shire coun­try­side as the mighty Swin­don Town march to glory and I’ll have to plan a ti­tle cel­e­bra­tion of my own.

League Two cham­pi­ons has a nice ring to it, but given the lack of fel­low Robins fans in these parts I’d prob­a­bly be hosting the party in a phone box.

A nice ring to it in­deed!

New man­ager Frank Lam­pard could steer Chelsea to a Cham­pi­ons League place.

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