Tainted title? No way… the very best really will win Premier League
Tainted title? No way… the very best really will win the Premier League in a season that is the stiffest of tests – give them an extra medal!
- Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo has shown what is required in this difficult season
- I see absolutely no need to interrupt the Premier League season at this stage
- Just like in life, there will always be obstacles to overcome when playing sport
- This is a season that will reward qualities such as resilience almost uniquely
At home to Tottenham on Sunday, Wolves played with an 18-year-old up front and took a deserved point. At Manchester United two days later, they played without a recognised striker at all and two other young players — aged 18 and 20 — made their first Premier League starts. They almost took another point.
So that was pretty good management of his diminished resources by Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo and that is what is required in this difficult season: imagination, resolve, mental toughness.
Managers and players need these qualities more than any other in season 2020-21. At the end of a campaign that I see absolutely no need to interrupt at this stage, the very best really will win this Premier League title.
The very best, which could be Mo Salah and Liverpool, really will win this Premier League title
I see no need to interrupt at this stage despite the Covid outbreaks at clubs like Man City
Ian Ladyman has replied to Ian Herbert’s comment on Tuesday that this season’s Premier League winners will have their title tainted.
The latter believes the season for all English clubs is turning into organised chaos due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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My colleague, Ian Herbert, presented on Tuesday a well-argued case for this season’s winners to have an asterisk against their name. How, he proposed, can a title be worth winning when the playing field has been left so uneven by Covid postponements, player illness and such an unnatural spread of supporters in stadiums?
I take his point but disagree. Sport is supposed to mirror life is it not? In that it is not always fair, there will always be obstacles to overcome and ultimately the strongest, fittest and best will get to the line first in the end.
From that point of view, this season is already providing the stiffest of tests. It is asking questions that some will be able to answer and others will not. All Premier League clubs have big squads these days.
If they don’t then they haven’t spent their vast wealth properly. So unless we get to the point where the Covid-19 pandemic impacts so catastrophically on football that clubs literally cannot field a team for a significant period then there is no reason not to play on at Premier League level.
Sport is supposed to mirror life – there will always be obstacles to overcome for all sides
Professional football currently presents no risk to public health. It is not funded by the public purse and is not calling on services and personnel that are needed elsewhere. As long as that remains the case, every effort should be made to play on.
Sport is about talent and skill but it is also about organisation, fortitude, resilience and toughness. This is a season that will reward those qualities almost uniquely. Yes there will be some bad breaks along the way. Everton, for example, have just suffered one with the postponement of their game against Manchester City at a time when Carlo Ancelotti’s team are in rare form.
But those who deserve to win will move on from these problems. They will cope. They will find a way. Those who do not will fade away and if they really wish to feel sorry for themselves then they should perhaps look out of the window or turn on the television and witness some real human suffering.
Wolves played with an 18-year-old Fabio Silva up front against Spurs and took a deserved point
Sport should not think it has a right to continue under all circumstances. Absolutely not. It is not that important. But nor should it be shut down or pushed aside just because things are not as we would like them to be or just because they are different.
Every single person in this country is getting used to a change of circumstances and there is no reason why sport should be any different. In football, the chances are that a two-week circuit break would make not a blind bit of difference to levels of Covid infection. It should only be considered if rates soar within the game. The last round of tests produced 18 positives out of 1,479. That is slightly more than one per cent.
If science tells football to stop then it should stop but we do not seem to be at that point just yet. If we can finish the season then we should do so and far from placing an asterisk next to the name of this season’s winners we should give them an extra medal. They will have deserved it.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has shown what is required in this difficult season
There will be bad breaks along the way, just as Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton have suffered
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