What a Weird(ly, Magical) Weekend of Football!

If you are a fan of Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham, Everton, Aston Villa and Arsenal, this turned out to be a weekend of celebrations. Of course the fans of Liverpool celebrated early on as Manchester United were torn apart at Old Trafford, and United fans heaved a sigh of relief to be off the bants table as Villa tore Liverpool to shreds a couple of hours later.

Liverpool ‘mourned in black’ following the defeat at Villa Park (Photo courtesy, Liverpool FC website)

Yeah, Chelsea also won, but just think about this: Mourinho started the week complaining about ‘fixture congestion’ but Tottenham settled some scores by squeezing past The Blues in the Carabao Cup, smashed seven past Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League and then returned to Old Trafford to pummel Manchester United 6-1  

West Ham United fans may be forgiven if they are to start thinking there is a Jekyll and Hyde quality about their side: they followed a shock 4-0 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers with a surprise 4-1 capitulation at Everton, then this weekend, went to Leicester and triumphed 3-0!

Liverpool fans were toasting the fall of Manchester United, as the Red Devils were being roasted by Spurs; never in a million years would they believe what was coming; after all they had not lost to Aston Villa, their next opponent, since 2015 (forget the 5-0 drubbing they suffered at Villa Park last season, that was the academy team!), they were unbeaten so far this season in the Premier League and things were looking good; that feeling lasted only two hours…

The pair of Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish ensured an evening of wild jubilation for Aston Villa fans worldwide as the team ran riot and scored seven goals to see the 1982 European Champions climb to second position on the table behind…

Ollie Watkins scored a first Premier League hattrick for Villa (picture courtesy SkySports)

Everton who have now gone four games unbeaten and are top of the table despite the antics of their England goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford. The game report in an English newspaper said, “Pickford’s blushes were spared by his team-mates as Everton roared to the top of the Premier League – at least temporarily”…because Liverpool were expected to win at Villa Park, and go top of the table. That ‘temporary’ stay at the top of the Premiership will last for two weeks as teams go on international break.

And for the first time in a long while, Arsenal fans will enjoy a quiet, banter-free week; this time, they are not the butt of football jokes, Manchester United and Liverpool have contrived to take the burden off them. And in all of these we have learned that:

Managers are geniuses who know nothing. Think about it, which manager in world football has not been given a come-uppance by a team at their level or a team that many will regard as ‘inferior’ to them?  From Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, the retired Sir Alex Ferguson, Jurgen Klopp, Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti, Diego Simeone and many others, every coach gets badly beaten at some point and when it’s time for it to happen there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Note that ‘genius’ is included in the description? Because every coach also has a day when everything falls in place – Jose Mourinho and Dean Smith were geniuses on Sunday.

The “geniuses who know nothing”, Pep and Mourinho

There are no ‘big’ players, only committed ones. There are players who command huge transfer fees, which are determined by the value a manager or a club places on them. If and when these players are now professional enough and live up to that hype, we label them ‘big players’ and expect much from them. On the other hand when a player who has certain skillsets that had been valued high, comes to a new club and for whatever reason could not live up to the hype, he may never recover, and ‘big’ may never be associated with his name.

But when players are committed, and they work hard, even if they never earn the ‘big player’ tag, they are revered. James Milner is one such person.

Leipzig had no big players, only committed ones, yet they got to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. The Aston Villa team that defeated Bayern Munich were man-for-man, ‘inferior’ to the Germans in 1982, and there are many results littering the various top leagues in Europe that confirm that the more determined team sometimes carry the day. The legend of ‘big players’ can be overrated, just ask Manchester United fans. And finally,

And it can just be pure luck, nothing else. Because sometimes when it rains, it pours. Like it was suggested earlier, some days, everything just goes perfect for a team, and everything they touch turns to goal.

And on some days everything just goes bad for another: a good team will play well and will not find the net, while their opponents will hang on by their nails, score the odd goal and win…and in football, it is goals that count, not attempts.  

But that is why we love the game; the joy and the unpredictable nature of it!

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