The Premier League: a tale without romance

The gods of football don’t like hubris, which is why those who wanted Liverpool to succeed might have to be disappointed

 

Share

At the start of the week, the editor of this newspaper, a man of impeccable credentials and unimpeachable manners, sent me one of his rare, carefully worded, imprecations. Resist the temptation, he said, to write about the football. So, as his devoted servant, I am taking his direction very seriously. Trouble is, there’s not much else going on, save Britain’s biggest corporate takeover battle, the news that millions of unsuspecting consumers are buying halal-butchered meat, and the discovery that there’s a militant Islamic group in Nigeria that is abducting children in their hundreds. Of a somewhat slighter nature – although not necessarily for her – is the announcement that a pregnant Katie Price is to divorce her cheating husband.

On these news stories, and many others no doubt, I could opine, pontificate, and aver. But if sport is a glorious distraction, please excuse my being distracted away from these matters of moment by the most exciting, unpredictable and emotionally exhausting denouement of the domestic football season, a climax that has been full of cautionary stories, morality tales and the audacity of hope. Sorry, ed, but I am interpreting your instruction thus: whatever you do, please don’t write about Manchester City.

No problem, actually, because I’d like to focus on something that has its roots in Ancient Greece. So. Did hubris fatally undermine Liverpool’s assault on their first title in 24 years? When they defeated Manchester City a few short weeks ago, there was a jubilation that went way beyond the fact that they had taken three points from their closest rivals. There were tears at the final whistle, Churchillian rallying cries from their captain, and a sense on Merseyside that destiny was calling. It was a deeply emotional response – perfectly understandable on the 25 anniversary of Hillsborough – but football at the highest level is played in cold blood, and we all know how this played out. Pride comes before a fall, and Steven Gerrard’s slip on the Anfield turf allowed Chelsea to come away with a victory which derailed Liverpool’s challenge. Cue more tears. 

Equally, earlier this week, Liverpool were 3-0 up at Crystal Palace, buoyed by an unshakeable belief that they would score six, seven or more. But the football gods, as we’ve seen, don’t like hubris, and Palace – this season’s personification of the audacity of hope – scored three goals in the final 10 minutes or so to leave Liverpool fans open-mouthed in shock, and resigned to another barren season.

Many neutrals wanted Liverpool to win the title to break the current quadopoly of Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs. They have played attractive football. They don’t have the wealth of their closest rivals. Theirs is a club steeped in history in a game where much of the richesse is nouveau. And, heaven knows, their fans deserve better.

But modern football is no respecter of romance, or of history. Sure, it’s about money, but then again it always was (it’s just the sums are bigger now). But it’s also about nerve, stamina and a pathological resistance to taking anything for granted. Which is why I’m not saying a word about where I hope the Premier League trophy will finally come to rest on Sunday.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour and the Liberal Democrats would both end winter fuel allowances for pensioners with enough income to pay the 40p tax rate  

Politicians court the grey vote because pensioners, unlike the young, vote

Andrew Grice
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable