Was this a season of disappointment? Of competitive balance? A two horse race with an overpriced and underachieving show pony stealing headlines? Has the European soccer planet shifted gravitational pull towards the Iberian peninsula? The story lines abounded, and a few refreshing moments shall wet your appetite before the MOST IMPORTANT EVENT is explained.
The global economic collapse caught up with the Premiership, as managers at the very top and bottom grappled with interest payments taking the place of player acquisition. Manchester United did not renew Carlos Tevez’s contract, losing 20 plus league goals. The Red Devils rode Wayne Rooney as long as they could, falling just short in the league race. Liverpool, forced to pinch pennies, failed to sign a quality striker and capitulated after injuries to Fernando Torres.
Chelsea declined to buy Kun Aguero in the January transfer window, instead relying on the eventual top scorer Didier Drogba and in form Nicolas Anelka. Despite a loss, at home, to Jose Mourinho’s Inter, the Blues beat United at Old Trafford and blew everybody else out of the water, scoring more than 100 goals by season’s end.
Arsenal were and were not a contender. The injury to Robin Van Persie left the Gunners dependent on Nick Bendtner, the soon-to-be-world’s-greatest striker who is not quite yet the world’s-greatest-striker. And the injury to Cesc Fabregas in the Champions League did not help matters.
In the battle for Fourth, Manchester City went from a collection of individual talented miscreants to a band of undersized misfits. Roberto Mancini welded the diminutive Craig Bellamy, Carlos Tevez, and Shaun Wright Phillps into a fierce attacking talent. They managed to thrash Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but lost at home to United on a Paul Scholes header.
And they fell short of fourth, losing the second to last game to Harry Redknapp’s Spurs. Yes. Spurs will soon play Champions League football, the golden city of Jerusalem should fall from the sky any day now, and the temperature in Hades is a refreshing 4 degrees Celsius. Still, we all recall the price of success that Pompey paid after Redknapp’s spell.
At they very bottom, Portsmouth entered administration as allegations surfaced that the club missed one too many ransom payments. Faced with impossibly high interest rates from the ransomers, also known as “bankers”, Pompey bit the points deduction bullet but, in spite of itself, has managed to reach the FA Cup final. However, the EPL did not care to throw its weight behind a Championship participant in next season’s UEFA cup. To the surprise of nobody, Portsmouth missed the deadline for the application.
The soccer blogsophere entered the realm of the Securities and Exchange commission, with bloggers brushing up on their accounting and MBA for dummies books. The debt cast light on a clash of anglo saxon cultures, as American owners lived by fast and loose franchise “principles” while the English public clamored for public trust. To be continued…
Still, the biggest story was not the John Terry scandal that rocked the English media. Nope. JT’s infidelity only served to distract and mislead the puritanical public. JT’s sexcapades were smoke and mirrors to cover up the canary in the mine, the bird of victory that chirped and tweeted well before Wayne Bridge got betrayed.
I speak, of course, of the infamous Stamford Bridge Colgate-Gate. While Chelsea won a home victory, a fan was caught brushing his teeth at a match. And we celebrated. And we cried. And we wondered – why? Why? Why did this poor fan wait until arriving to the soccer stadium to brush his teeth? Did he just eat a foul odored snack? Did he actually apply toothpaste and water, or was this a dry run? Was gingivitis a legitimate concern?
At the time, we laughed at the signs of the Blues championship with bewilderment and skepticism. Surely this was a PR stunt, we told ourselves. After all, if the International Panel on Climate Change cites non-peer reviewed blogs as secondary sources, then all is well on planet earth? And thereby planet premiership?
But we were blind to the smoke spewing from the Chelsea volcano. Only now, covered in molten lava, as the odor of our own burning skin fills our nostrils, can we reflect on this omen of omens, this sign from the Gods. As our corpse melts into a summer of World Cup entertainment and probable disappointment, we would do well to the remember our brush-in with “The Brush” of the goddesses.