The list of big-time chokers in this season’s Premier League title race is a long one.
Man United, Leicester, Chelsea, Spurs…. all choking to a greater or lesser degree at the precise moment everyone starts talking about them as real challengers.
I’m baffled why so many people get lured into this, year in year out. Several top eight teams are built up way beyond their station after a few good results as we look for a potential surprise at the top.
Even when it’s obvious who the real favourites are – Manchester City and Liverpool.
If you’ve won the title recently, or run up huge points totals and come up short in the last three years, you automatically go into a title race.
You tick most of the boxes as to what is needed to go over the 38 hurdles. Longevity, resilience, the ability to overcome injuries and a blip in form.
Winners don’t clear 15 or 20 hurdles. The Premier League has 38 full hurdles of the most difficult course in world football.
Why anyone would put the clubs above in a title race after less than half a season is beyond me.
Keep saying to yourself, “if they’re in it with 6 to go, fine, until then it’s just a team in form”. It’ll save you a lot of hassle!
Man U, Spurs, Chelsea Leicester lack ingredients.
I played in Liverpool teams who choked, bottled it. We didn’t have the fundamentals to back up a great result. You need experience to win titles and Man City and Liverpool have that. You need leadership and responsibility, players to fill the gaps during loss of form and injury.
Why will Man U bottle it? They have not got the No9 they need. Cavani is long in the tooth, Anthony Martial doesn’t hold the ball up well enough to build play, and Marcus Rashford isn’t a central striker.
Their rearguard is the same as one we were criticising just recently. Will they go double-digit clean sheets until the end of the season? Will Paul Pogba be a 9/10 until May? No. So they’ll choke.
Spurs decided to get Gareth Bale in, back to the future, with an emotional signing. Out on the golf course forever but signed with a hope he can gel with Kane and Son, and be as good as he was five years ago.
Bale’s spell so far has been poor. Spurs could have invested elsewhere to get a front three as good as Liverpool’s. That one move was a choke.
It means a lack of depth, creativity and attention to detail. Bale’s £300k a week could have fleshed out the squad with three players.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were fielding questions about the title after losing only once in 19 games until early December. They’ve had their choke already, losing four in seven in December, and then sacking Frank to make this a rebuilding season and top four challenge.
Leicester have made great signings, have youth, a brilliant man coaching them. In Brendan Rodgers. I love Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy will get 20+ goals.
But they could fall off a cliff. I can’t see them as any more than the most brilliant young development team and a lesson for any club, big or small, in how to build.
In the end pressure will tell on young players. I don’t think they have the individuals across the board who are best in the business in their positions.
So knuckle down for a two horse race. Manchester City or Liverpool. It looks tight at the top but the others aren’t ready yet.