Five lessons from the start of the real football season
Take a sniff, breathe it in – you know what that is? That’s the smell of deep heat and hair gel - real football is back.
It was almost three weeks between the end of the World Cup and the domestic competitions starting up again. Felt like I’d lost a limb. But after week two of the A-League and the return of the English Premier League, it’s worth taking a look at some of the early lessons of the season.
1. The A-League is still impossible to predict. Two weeks in, we’ve had three three-all thrillers, and last weekend the two most consistent teams in the competition were punished. Reigning champions Sydney FC went to North Queensland and produced a first-half’s entertainment comparable to An Audience with Kyle Sandilands.
Usual champions Melbourne Victory are showing a few cracks and Perth Glory prized them open further with their hefty boots. Two-nil for the boys from WA – possible title contenders at last?
2. Cream blazers rule. North Queensland Fury coach Franz Straka arrived in Townsville to little fanfare. “Who is he? Where is he? Why is he?” Two weeks in, wooden-spoon favourites Fury are unbeaten, second on the table and have just beaten the champions. What’s his secret? We think it’s the cream blazer. Forgoing the usual far north Queensland beer-sodden wifebeater fashion, Straka’s linen charms create the dignified air of a man who doesn’t even know how to sweat. All he needs now is a silver-topped cane or perhaps a monocle.
3. In the EPL, Chelsea mean business. Carlo Ancelotti’s double-winners finished last season with an 8-0 spanking of Wigan. They started this one with a 6-0 rollocking of West Brom. Granted the opposition pretty much rolled on their back with a “rub-my-tummy” look on their face but still – respect is due. Man Utd’s overnight 3-0 win over newly promoted Newcastle wasn’t quite so spectacular but clinical nonetheless.
4. Roberto Mancini is third favourite in the Premier League sack race. After spending the roughly $500 million – read that again, $500 million – since the Middle East takeover, the Italian is under immense pressure to dig up some silverware. On the basis of the display against Tottenham on Saturday, he has a long way to go. Should City drop out of the top four at all, Mancini could be hoisted by his own impeccably tied scarf.
5. Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is favourite in the sack race. After spending roughly three buttons, a stick of chewing gum and some marbles on his squad during the off-season, the Seasiders started their Premier League roller-coaster with a giddy 4-0 win over relegation-bound Wigan. If they hold off the inevitable implosion til mid-season, they might just have a chance. Might.
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