The English Premier League, one of the few widely globalised competitions on the planet, is set to resume its season next month after receiving clearance by the UK government.
Too much in the way of logistics, discussions, arguments and ultimately resolutions need to happen, but for the meantime the very possibility that England’s top league could finish off its season is an absolute blessing.
But in truth, not everyone would have wanted a return to the pitch. Here is a look at those who win and lose with football coming back.
It seemed whether being handed the trophy or playing out the rest of their campaign, Liverpool were going to receive the league title in some way or another. This way makes it more of a visual experience, and something a lot more memorable.
Just prior to the hiatus the Reds were on track for the greatest title win in league history, with 27 wins, one draw and one loss helping amass 82 points, 25 more than their closest rival Manchester City. All they need is two wins from their final nine games.
Considering they have not won the league title in 30 years, which is astounding given the Reds’ dominance in the latter stages of the 20th century, it is objectively unfair for the club not to seal their drought-breaking crown in front of some starving fans.
As well as that, cancelling the season altogether would do away with all the club’s good work, and potentially cripple their momentum which has been going for a good two years now.
Loser: José Mourinho
Spurs were truly struggling to put together any sort of form during the 2019-20 season, and although José Mourinho’s arrival as manager offered them a someone who had winning embedded in their DNA, his impact has been far from positive so far.
When play stopped the club was languishing in eighth on the ladder, knocked out of all other competitions, lost key players in Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to lengthy injuries and seemingly, made no strides forward on or off the pitch.
Interestingly, according to The Guardian Mourinho says he is desperate for the league to restart, and is proud of the way his players have dedicated themselves to their fitness. Perhaps he and the group genuinely are in a position to win now.
But it is hard to believe a manager can do more off the pitch to improve a team if he was struggling to do so on it in the first place. A cancelled season would have given Mourinho and the club a chance to start fresh.
Winner(s): Arsenal and Manchester United
It would have been impossible to believe about 15 games in that Arsenal and Manchester United would have wanted to their seasons to keep trucking along.
Yet both clubs managed to string together some good performances, and they would no doubt want a chance to see out what can still be a promising season. Much like the soon to be crowned champions on the Merseyside, establishing momentum is important, but maintaining it is the critical part.
New manager Mikel Arteta breathed new life into the Gunners after filling the void left by Unai Emery in late December, and the results show it. Arsenal were 10th when Arteta took over, and tallied just five wins along with five losses in their first 17 league games prior to him. That improved, with four wins and six draws coming in the club’s next 11 games – a stretch highlighted by an eight match unbeaten run.
For Manchester United, things under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær seem to be coming right. Thanks to a couple of new faces in Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo joining in January, the Red Devils made it 11 games unbeaten including five in the Premier League to sit fifth overall, right on the tail of fourth-place Chelsea. They also remain in contention for the FA Cup and Europa League.
Loser: Norwich City
This one is a given, surely.
Had the Premier League season been suspended for good Norwich City would have likely remained for one more year, boosted by the argument ‘hey we could have mounted a comeback and actually avoided relegation’. Unfortunately for the Canaries they will have to suffer the very fate that was imminent.
Through 29 games Norwich found themselves bottom of the table on 21 points, six behind 17th place Watford who for the meantime, are out of the drop zone based on goals difference. Assuming the new schedule follows a similar format to what was left behind – to be able to make up six points in nine matches, and then some, when you have managed an average of 0.7 points a game so far, is pretty unlikely.
Sorry birdies, pack your bags and plan out your stay in the Championship next season.
A little bit mystical saying Football is the big winner, but aside from the intangible goodness the game coming back offers, the game does benefit hugely.
Sport as a whole has suffered terribly during the global pandemic, and fans’ reliance on sport has been further realised. To be one of the first to return, ideally if it does, the Premier League will by default garner more at-home spectators as well as their trusty regulars, who will likely develop an even stronger passion for the game simply because it is back, and earlier than others.
Football will become incredibly popular globally, not that it needed an ego boost.
Sports writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have a strong passion for a range of codes, including the NBA, NFL, Soccer, Rugby and more.