I recently read a very well written article stating that just because a team are in a certain position in the table at Christmas; it does not mean anything for the rest of the season. Now I do agree that there is a huge deal of hype over who is top at Christmas and going into the New Year, likewise who sits rock bottom of the league table, and perhaps a little more is made of it than there should be. What I do not agree with however is the claim that it means nothing and will have no effect on the rest of the season.
I could sit here and reel out the stats – in the last 7 years, the team at the top on Christmas day has gone on to win the league 5 of those times, and only once in 2004 have the team who were rooted to the bottom escaped the drop – we can all remember the Baggies and their heroics that season, but sorry Blackburn the table does not lie, and you do seem doomed – fans may argue this is more due to choice in manager than the curse of being bottom at Christmas but moving on…
Of course there is much more to it than that, and if your bottom or indeed top on say goal difference, or with a couple of points in it, there is a great deal left to play for, and I would concede that nothing is set in stone. Where I would make the point that sitting at either end of the table does matter is in terms of psychology.
The boost it can give to teams and fans to hold that coveted spot can give them that extra push – take the league this year – very little in it, but imagine how City would have felt if United were top and they had squandered a 5 point lead? Being top has shown their fans how it feels and how much they want to end the season that way. The article I read very rightly states form in the second part of the season is vital, yet I would say that this can be affected by where a team is in the league at the half way point.
Take a look at La Liga – being ‘winter champions’ is an absolutely huge thing for Real Madrid – and Mourinho has never lost a league when he has been top at the Christmas mark, or three points clear. They were both. Had they lost a Clasico and been second going into the break, I doubt they would have recovered from this. Yet their whole mentality – now a winning one – it totally different going into the second half of the season and the players are finally beginning to believe they can win the league.
Even the SPL – and yes I did resort to watching this whilst La Liga was on hiatus – Celtic went into the New Year having won an Old Firm and overhauled a huge lead from Rangers – imagine the psychological implications this had for both sides – massive.
I am not trying to say anything is done and dusted, every league across Europe has a great deal left in it yet, in terms of not just the title, but just about every position, and no, being top does not guarantee anything, and the media – me probably included – do hype it up a great deal, but at certain landmark stages of the season – Christmas, New Year, Easter etc people do look at who is top or bottom and a huge deal is made of this, and if you think the players do not notice this and get affected by it, then you are very mistaken.
Am i right? Follow me on twitter @RebeccaKnight01
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