There’s been a debate raging inside my head recently, probably due to the football season being only days away- or underway for those up thar’North. The first few Norwich opponents also probably helped.
If they were to face each other your money would be on Stoke, but if they were to lose to Wigan you wouldn’t be overtly surprised, such is the nature of the Premier League. But the force behind that competitiveness we see week-in week-out is inconsistency. Or, is this rather the opposite, the inconsistency bred from how competitive the sides are?
And now you see my conundrum.
If this was the Championship in question, my first thought would be to say the competitiveness is driving the inconsistency. But I couldn’t give you the reason behind such accusations. It is the same for the Premier League, I would lean toward the inconsistency breeding competitiveness for reasons I’m entirely unsure of.
I also believe it is harder to get into the top league of British football than it is to actually stay there, there are teams that avoid the drop by the skin of their teeth in the Premier League because there happens to be three teams worse than them that year. I do realise how absurd that sounds, and yes, I do understant the concept of a league table. But these teams then suffer the fate we did, a fall from a perceived ‘grace’ because the teams in the league below have built a squad that is better, and more importantly, used to winning and competing.
The line is greyer than ever between the top of the Championship and most of the Premier League. Looking at the Championship this year I don’t see the three that dropped as obvious contenders. Reading, Leicester, even Ipswich will be there or thereabouts. Blackpool could well fade and see Olly disappear to another team near the top of the Championship. A Forest, maybe, is McClaren struggles. Birmingham may struggle to even field a team or provide shirts. West Ham surely have the best chance of returning given their signings so far.
But looking at the bottom of the Prem you would fancy us to beat, or at least compete, with everyone up to 11th. And not through anything but the inconsistency of them all. Deep down, I know this is really due to how competitive and similar in quality the teams are, in their own way obviously.
I just refuse to admit it. The bottom half of the table is nothing more than growing degrees of mediocrity.
Which is why I would be very disappointed if we were to finish below the likes of Blackburn, Stoke, Wigan, Newcastle, Wolves and QPR.
But I’d still take 17th.