This weekend’s opening day of the season was not one of the most exciting, in terms of goals and entertainment, which I can remember. However there were still important results for Wolves who won away at Blackburn and Bolton who stuffed newly-promoted QPR 4-0 at Loftus Road. While watching this weekend’s football I was questioning whether or not the opening weekend ever gives a clear indication what is to take place for the coming season. Looking back at the history of the Premier League there are cases where it does both.
The problem is that teams and their managers are still trying to find the best combination for selection and tactics and they are still recovering from a hard pre-season. While the supporters like to see potential for the new season, the mangers know that there are still many games left in the season.
Back in 1995, Manchester United took on Aston Villa in the first match of the season after selling Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes during the summer. They lost 3-1 to the Villa which led Match of the Day pundit, Alan Hansen to infamously exclaim that they ‘couldn’t win anything with kids’. United went on to win six of their next eight Premier League titles, two FA Cups plus a Champions League with a similar side to one that lost to Villa (although they did add the likes of Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole and Jaap Stam during the season.) This proves that the first game of the season may not be as important as first thought.
Another example comes at the start of the 2009 season. Arsenal were heavily tipped to miss out on the top four with Everton meant to be their main source of competition. However the season didn’t exactly start to plan as Everton faced Arsenal but the Toffees were 3-0 down by half time before eventually losing 6-1 in an truly awful performance. However it didn’t mean that much for the new season as Arsenal went onto to finish third with Everton in 8th.
Importantly with the transfer window not closing until the end of August, after the season has started, clubs can still strengthen and can finish the season with a very different team to one that they started with. This makes it hard to say if it gives an indication, I suppose the only way we will see is in the final table at the end of the season.