Looking ahead to this upcoming Premier League season, I’m more excited about this one than any other in the past. Part of the reason may be that I’m hoping to find solace in the league that I didn’t find in the World Cup after England’s exploits came tumbling down. But it’s also because I prefer club football over the international brand. It’s a different dynamic, but it’s consistent, week-in week-out and filled with plenty of contrasting styles on the pitch and soap operas off it.
Thinking ahead to this 2010-2011 season, here is my Premier League wishlist:
- More panache from lower-table sides. When soccer supporters criticize the Premier League (most of them are MLS fans), they often regurgitate the comment, “Who wants to watch boring teams such as Stoke City and Wigan Athletic play?” The irony is that Stoke against Wigan last season produced one of the goals of the season when Maynor Figueroa scored from 60 yards. But the sentiment is understood, and it’s my hope that lower-table clubs such as Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers and Wolves play more of an attractive brand of soccer during the 2010-11 season. I’d like to see more panache from these teams. Each of them have players that are capable of it.
- Fewer one-sided thrashings. I’m all for seeing plenty of goals in the Premier League, but last season there seemed to be more one-sided thrashings than usual. Take Chelsea for example. Last season they clobbered Blackburn 5-0, Bolton 4-0, Wolves 4-0, Sunderland 7-2, West Ham 4-1, Portsmouth 5-0, Aston Villa 7-1, Stoke 7-0 and Wigan 8-0. As a neutral observer, I much prefer to see closer scorelines in all the games I watch.
- A new contender at the top. When a new season begins, it’s quite common to see a newly promoted side perched near the top of the table for a week or two (Burnley and Hull City were two good examples recently), but those clubs quickly fall down the league table. What I would like to see during the 2010-2011 Premier League season is a new contender at the top. A club that no one expected to be in the top five, and a club that has the skill and enthusiasm to stay up there for as long as possible during the season. Yes, it’s wishful thinking. But clubs such as Reading and Wigan have proven it in the past.
- No more Portsmouth’s. I don’t like seeing football supporters suffer especially when the future of their favorite football club is out of their hands and all of the dirty laundry is aired in public. In thee types of situations, football supporters are helpless. All they want to do is see their team play week-in week-out without any of the high court drama. So one of my wishes this season is that clubs begin acting more financially responsible and sort out their futures. Aston Villa has started to do so with Randy Lerner limiting Martin O’Neill’s transfer kitty, and we all know what happened there. But more tough decisions like that need to happen this season. And at the same time, I don’t want to see poor ownership of clubs such as Gillett and Hicks dragging Liverpool into massive debt and breaking promises.
- Better defending. I thought that some of the defending last season in the Premier League was woeful, so I’m hoping that the standards will be raised this season. Comical defending can be funny at first, but when it keeps on popping up throughout the season, something is wrong.
- Enthusiastic support. When asked why people love the Premier League, many of them say how the passionate singing fans wins them over time and time again. The reality is that the supporters of Premier League clubs are quieter than ever. This season we need to see more passion from football supporters instead of watching the couch potatoes glued to their seats in Premier League grounds across the country.
- European glory. One of the things that adds a spark to a Premier League season is European success by English clubs. For example, when Chelsea has a league game against Arsenal but a few days prior to that the Blues play Barcelona in the Champions League, it adds a different dynamic to the Premier League. How will the Champions League match affect the club’s team selection? Will the club adjust their tactics? Can the clubs around them in the league gain an advantage by a team slipping up in the Premier League because they’re so focused on the Europa League or Champions League?
- No more horrible injuries. There’s no doubt that there’ll be injuries this season. There always are. But let’s hope that pivotal players such as the likes of Michael Essien aren’t out for large portions of the season like they were last year. Even with Fernando Torres, it seemed like he was never able to regain his form completely because he was always recovering from injuries. Let’s hope we see less of that this season and plenty of fit players who can play to their potential.
- New stars. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the Premier League to unearth some new stars on us. Players that surprise us, excite us and dazzle us with their skills. Rather than just rare flashes of brilliance from Danny Rose and Zavon Hines, I want to see a player unfold in front of our eyes so we can see him rise to fame this season and so we can see him grow on the pitch. Wayne Rooney comes to mind. And that’s my hope. That we get to see a player who we least expect that will blow us away this season.
- English glory. If ever there was a time for young English talent to break into Premier League sides and give England fans hope for the future, this is it. There’s a sense among England supporters that it’s a time for a changing of the guard. A new breed of English footballers are needed who not only have the speed, but also the clinical finishing and mental aptitude to take on the best in the world. If some of these players can get experience in the Champions League too, it’ll give them the opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world and to get them ready for the international stage. England needs new heroes. And the 2010-11 Premier League season could be the one to unearth them.
What do you think? What are your hopes and dreams for the new Premier League season? Share them in the comments section below.