A league season is made up of 38 games – yet read any of the sports media in this country or around Europe this season and you would not think so. One bad result automatically means crisis and one brilliant result means you’re winning the league.
Now don’t get me wrong, a result can be season defining, but only if you let it. Three points when all is said and done is just that – three points, and whilst the loss especially if it comes at the hands of a direct rival can be a bitter pill to swallow, it does not mean a season is over.
Take the crushing defeat handed to United from noisy neighbours turned title contenders turned fellow Thursday night buddies – it was horrible for all United fans to watch, but heading into the busy festive fixtures, they are two points behind of City, who face Van Persie – sorry – Arsenal this coming weekend. Not exactly out of the title race because of one game are they?
Yet look back before that game to the 8 – 2 victory over Arsenal – you would have thought United had won the league the way the media reacted. A few weeks later – it was all over, and now they’re right back in it.
It is not just English teams who suffer this – take El Clasico at the weekend – now even I will not sit here and lie. It was a poor result and a huge disappointment, yet it is not the end of Real’s season and certainly does not hand the title to Barcelona.
Should Real chose to wallow in this result and develop a complex – or more of one – about the myth of Barcelona, their season will be defined by this, and fall to pieces.
Pick themselves up and move on however, and beat Sevilla on Saturday evening, and they will head into the winter break three points clear– how lucky continental teams are to not be freezing to death traveling up and down the country on boxing day they will never know – and will be firmly back on track.
The league is not the only competition that this can happen in – everyone can recall Arsenal’s now infamous slump after losing the Carling Cup final last season – yet it was just one game that they should never have let impact on their other competitions and it ended up defining their season – failure.
As silly as it may seem, even a hard fought away win against what may seem a ‘lesser team’ can be the one that defines a season. Chelsea in their first season under Mourinho took part in the ‘battle of Blackburn’ as John Terry dubbed it, and came away with a 1–0 victory which galvanized the team and showed people that they meant business – even up North on a Monday night.
I might be wrong, but at the end of the season if Madrid end up as champions, they will look to the Levante loss as the most significant, not the Barcelona one, and say that was their season changer, with the team galvanizing and going 15 straight victories after that.
Likewise, if City win their first league title it will not be the victory over United or the loss to Chelsea that they look at, it will be the really gritty games that they grind out 1-0. These are the games that win you titles not one fantastic win against a bitter rival.
One game alone cannot win a title but it can define a season – how it does so however is up to that team, and that is when we really see who are Champions and who are pretenders to the throne. The ball is now in City and Madrid’s court after their recent losses, and how they react will shape their seasons far more than either the Chelsea or Barca game ever could.