With the season now firmly under way, only to be interrupted by a brilliantly times international break – thanks for that FIFA – some sides have been straight out the traps, Chelsea and Barcelona have collected the maximum points available to them and have made nothing short of a brilliant start, whilst other teams such as PSG and Real Madrid have performed shall we say less than acceptably and are propping up the middle of the table. It might only be three games in, but fans and the media are debating said results with gusto, and their effect on the rest of the season, raising the question just how vital is a good start to the league?
If someone tries to tell you a good start to the season is detrimental to a team’s campaign I will show you a liar or indeed someone with an I.Q that rivals Joe Cole’s, who after 9 months in France was learning to say Je Voudrais – as much as you may dislike a rival, if they have collected 9 points from 3 games it is impressive and any fan would much rather their side be sat at the top of the table than in a spot that would not even get you into the Europa League next season. A good start sends a message and is never a bad thing.
Of course it cannot be described as the be all and end all – otherwise the season would be over by October. Some teams perform much better in the second half of the season – United are prime examples of this, and always come to the fore after Christmas, meaning that a few points gap is not the end of the world for them. In fact fans have come to expect it. Who a team has played can also be significant – Southampton have faced nothing short of a nightmare first couple of fixtures and it does not get much better for them in the near future but their fans will know they are playing well and beating United or City will not keep them up – beating the teams around them will, and if they lose to them it is time to worry. As for now, their start is not as bad as it may seem on paper.
There is also the small matter of the period over Christmas and Easter – far away they may seem, but they are the most significant periods of the season and if a side can collect maximum points from these jam packed periods they can go a long way to atoning for dropped points earlier in the season or making the gap at the top even wider.
The ACON – yes it is back again to the lamenting of City fans – is also a major factor which is yet to weigh in on matters, but teams with a big or significant African presence will struggle during these months and again even if they have collected maximum points at the start of the season, all that hard work can be derailed during the most inconveniently timed competition.
Only a fool would tell you they wanted a bad start to the season for their team – as I cast an envious glance up the table to where Barcelona sit I can assure you no matter how hard I try and tell myself 4 points from 3 games is A ok, and Real are doing fine this is about as truthful as when Ronaldo protests he doesn’t care Messi is lorded above him – but there are many more factors to come in to play yet, and whilst the teams who have excelled thus far will be hoping to carry on in the same vein, the ones below them will certainly be relying on the fact it nothing is decided in the middle of September – thank God.