On forming strong opinions 2 games into the Premier League season

Jamie McDonald

Two games into the Premier League, and it's already possible to draw extremely firm conclusions about what's going on. Isn't it? Isn't it?

Welcome to the Premier League, where, although it's early in the season, things are happening! Oh yes they are! Conclusions, like the curtains of a house whose residents have just realised that the entire street can see precisely what they're getting up to in the comfort of their bedroom, are being frantically drawn.

[Two flippin' games. *thumps head into table*]

For starters. David Moyes, as you may have heard, hates Shinji Kagawa. Like, properly hates him. Thinks he's rubbish, thinks he smells. Holds him responsible for that hideous racist travesty of a parody Twitter account, which is obviously a bit harsh, but there you are. Why this might be, nobody's quite sure: is it because he loathes fun and joy and light? Or is it because he likes fun and joy and light, but is just too scared to clasp poor delicate Shinji to his pale Glaswegian bosom? It's definitely one of the two, or the third option, which is that he's an idiot.

[Two flippin' games. No, the Charity Shield doesn't count. *thumps head into table*]

For mains. Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, hates all of his strikers, but particularly Romelu Lukaku. He also hates Juan Mata, because Mata has a nicer beard that he's ever managed and gets on well with various members of the Spanish national team, all of whom Mourinho hates as well, because they either play for Barcelona, who he didn't get the chance to manage, or they play for Real Madrid, who he did.

[Two flippin' games. Actually, no, three. Still, the point stands. *thumps head into table*]

And for pudding, we turn to the radio. On Tuesday night, BBC radio mulled over the prospect of every game between the Large Three/Big Four/Swollen Five/Corpulent Six/Bloated Seven turning out to be as dull as Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea. [One flippin' game]. This was interrupted by the League Cup, and the collapse of the Paolo di Canio project at Sunderland, who at the time were losing 2-0 to the MK Dons. "We don't want to overreact, but ..." Is the mad fool too demanding? Too unhinged? Is he going to be sacked immediately, or will there be a couple more weeks of chaos first? [Half a flippin' game, that they eventually won 4-2.]

[*thumps head into table*]

Still, it's not all bad news! Open groin aside, Kolo Toure is back to his Invincible best [*thump*]; Roberto Soldado is the solution to all of Tottenham's striking woes [*thump*]; Andros Townsend is good enough to play for England [*thump*]; and West Ham ... actually, nobody appears to be jumping to any conclusions about West Ham. Sam Allardyce is to excitable over-reaction what damp blankets are to chip-fires: necessary and damp.

[*bleeds to death*]

Is this all a new-ish thing? It feels like a new-ish thing. You'd think the world would have learned after last season. Remember Arsenal's opening? A few games in, no goals conceded, and all of a sudden Steve Bould was the genius lovechild of Helenio Herrara and Helm's Deep. One national newspaper even ran a picture of Gibbs, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Jenkinson -- if I remember correctly; Gunnersaurus might have been in there -- beneath the looming spectral faces of their illustrious predecessors, semi-legendary offside-trap merchants Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Things were good. Things were solid. Things were looking impermeable.

Naturally, they conceded eleventy-squillion goals in the next four games, and everybody felt a bit foolish.

The league season, as everybody knows, is a marathon, not an opal fruit. And when it comes to marathons, the opening miles are about position, about energy conservation, about not taking the wrong turn and ending up 26 miles in the other direction, friendless and alone. Which is quite hard to do in running, let alone in football, where the score resets to 0-0 every weekend and you get another go.

We don't know if Jose Mourinho played four-loads-nowt at Old Trafford on Monday night because he thinks that's the long-term future of his squad and his system, or he thought that quick interchanges might be the best way to discombobulate Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, or because he was ordered to by almighty Cthulhu. And we won't know until either (a) he tells us, and even then he might be lying; (b) he does it again, or not, as the season happens; or (c) we wake up one morning to find that Stamford Bridge has been dragged, by fire and scream and tentacle, into a dark and forbidding Other Place. West London joke.

(As an aside, the one thing we do know, Twitter, if you're reading, is that it wasn't a "mind game", since whatever the hell a "mind game" is, an actual thing that somebody actually does is definitely more-or-less the complete and total opposite.)

This isn't to say that people shouldn't have opinions on what's happened, or think about what that might mean, or even analyse things, if that's your bag, you pervert. This is to say that drawing big conclusions from small events has two implications. One, you run the very considerable risk of looking like a pillock when the larger picture begins to emerge, which it does once enough things have happened. That's science. And two, it's vastly irritating to anybody that happens across those opinions when they were quite innocently reading the paper, or listening to the radio, or checking Twitter to see if anybody had made a good pun recently. They hadn't.

This, obviously, has turned into a chaotic and formless rant about the evils of modern life, for which apologies. You'll get your money back at the end of the piece. But the worst part is: there's no conclusion. This is how life is now: the internet is big and must be filled; having opinions is a game of opinions; "YELL" trumps "hmmm". We are trapped. Trapped in a world where significance is determined by volume and speed. Trapped in a world where a player missing two games means the manager hates him and himself and you, specifically you. Trapped in a world where a 2-0 deficit halfway through a cup game indicates a club falling apart. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a berk divining the future from a chicken nugget, loudly, forever.

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