A personal review of the 2021/22 Football season
Today’s BBC Sport headline “Title, top four and relegation to be decided – Premier League set for dramatic final day” reading “Will Manchester City or Liverpool be champions? Can Tottenham seal a Champions League spot ahead of north London rivals Arsenal? Which of Burnley or Leeds are heading for the Championship? …” is an intriguing one. I write this around 0900 today, in the knowledge that by 1800 we will have the answers!
The way it stands as I write this: Liverpool need to win, and hope Manchester City do not win, to be champions. Manchester City and Liverpool have been the stand out teams in the Premiership this season, with Liverpool ever pushing, with large points gap over the other teams in the league. Chelsea have safely secured third place; some minor compensation for disappointingly losing to Liverpool on penalties in both the League Cup and FA Cup. As for fourth place and a guarantee of a place in the European Cup, all Tottenham have to do to keep that place, having recently come from behind to overtake their North London rivals, is to win or draw or hope Arsenal draw or lose were they to lose or if Arsenal were to win, they get at least a draw. As for whether it is Burnley or Leeds that stay up, one needs to do better in than the other in the win, draw or lose department or should they both win, lose or draw, Burnley stay up. Sounds complicated, but no doubt all clubs know what is needed.
Before I resume after having followed the games, due to be all over by 1800 given it is a 1600 kick off for all Premier clubs, let me set the scene concerning “personal”. I have loved the beautiful game from the time I could kick a ball up to the present day. Here, most of my limited ability footballing efforts were confined to kick abouts with chums in the local park as a child, or wherever we could find to play when I was a student or with colleagues from the workplace and when I was supervising youngsters, including when acting as a referee and organising football competitions as a community worker. In my dotage, partly as a reaction against what I see by way of commercial domination and because I am no longer able to get involved at grass roots level, my following of what is going on at a professional level is limited but, as this blog shows, it is not non-existent. I do not support any of the big named clubs and these days I would be hard pushed to name the main players, but I continue to follow the fortunes of the teams of my youth: Southend United and the English national team (although a long time since watching live).
The time is 1800 and we now know. I have been enjoying the BBC commentary on the games and it has been exciting with all sorts of twists and turns. Both Liverpool and Manchester City win, making Manchester City deserved winners and Liverpool honourable runners up. Similarly, Tottenham and Arsenal win, and both by big margins, meaning Tottenham win that coveted fourth place and some disappointed Arsenal supporting friends. Leeds win and Burnley lose meaning Leeds making the great escape, remaining in the Premiership. I confess I have little interest in the three other football leagues but do in the league below that. As I boy, I supported Tottenham (partly because of Jimmy Greaves) and West Ham (partly because of Bobby Moore). While as an adult I warmed to the great Liverpool sides of the 1970s and 1980s, the only team I supported throughout my life, ever since as a boy my dad took me to see them play, was Southend United, who are now in the National League. Things looked dire in the early part of the seasons before rallying to finish mid table. My hope is in the 2022 / 23 season they will do better and find their way back into the Football League.
Looking ahead, there is the World Cup being held in Qatar, not in June / July as is traditionally the case, but in November / December when it is hot rather than very hot. I am disappointed that a country with little footballing pedigree should host it, but sadly it is all about money. Even so, the top competition in the world is ever something to look forward to. The game that enthralls me is next Saturday’s European final between Liverpool (the team of my adulthood) and Real Madrid (the team I so admired as a boy). Both had an exciting journey to the final (I loved the semi finals) and deserve to be there. According to Wikipedia: “Liverpool is the most successful club in English football in terms of major trophies won. Domestically, the club has won nineteen League titles, eight FA Cups, a record nine League Cups and fifteen FA Community Shields. In international competitions, the club has won six European Cups, more than any other English club, three UEFA Cups, four UEFA Super Cups, also English records, and one FIFA Club World Cup. The club established itself as a major force in English and European football in the 1970s and 1980s”, when Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish, led the club to a combined eleven League titles, several domestic cups and four European Cups.” According to Wikipedia: “Real Madrid established itself as a major force in both Spanish and European football during the 1950s and 60s, winning five consecutive and six overall European Cups and reaching a further two finals. This success was replicated on the domestic front, with the club winning twelve league titles in the span of 16 years. This team, which included Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Francisco Gento, and Raymond Kopa, is considered by some in the sport to be the greatest of all time”. A great game is in prospect, and I hope that the best team will win!