Salvation is here! The English football season is back.
I’ve been trying to fill the summer void by taking to cricket but it’s been challenging. In the text commentary for the previous Test match against India, for example, several cricket fans fretted about being “dragged kicking and screaming” to soporific events by their domineering wives. “Soporific” was their pretentious word, by the way. After I looked that one up I then noticed in the online commentary some hapless fella admitting to being bundled into the back of his car as his wife and mother-in-law searched for some Welsh furniture. Another effete fan let his wife swipe his cell phone so he couldn’t check the score.
Thank goodness English football season is here. At least those fans have a bit more gumption, a bit more pride; it’s clear who wears the pants.
As for the, ummm, action on the pitch, well, by cricket standards it was rollicking but that’s a pretty low bar. Consider that the other day in the third Test against India they started late because of rain but nevertheless stopped action to enjoy drinks — on the field, no less — after a scoring a few measly runs. Just as I was catching on to their tactics and getting the peculiar lingo down, they were off to the pavilion for a prompt lunch. Blimey, your average soccer fan exerts more effort celebrating one goal than most of those cricketers.
I suppose I can understand the tea breaks; After all, everything in Old Blighty stops for tea. Even when the batsmen endeavor to actually run between the wickets and are having a good ol’ slog at the ball, tea must not wait. When cricket actually broke out between all of the drink and tea and crumpet breaks, England did quite well… but I’m so relieved it’s time for a real sport.
As someone with the misfortune of having Crystal Palace as his home team, I have adapted by enjoying good English football wherever it’s played… and that’s not usually Selhurst Park. Now 6,000 miles removed from the cauldron, I can sit back, relax, and just hope the ref gets out of the way and lets the best team — or the underdog if they deserve it — win.
For this relatively impartial observer, it would be nice to see a new Premier League champion. But what I really hope is that someone knocks Barcelona off their pedestal in the Champions League. They are admired the world over and many pundits label them the greatest team ever, but now I’m really getting sick of them. Their short, precise passes intersecting pretty little triangles as they inexorably walk the ball into the opponents net is obviously effective, but after a few games of that I tire of the pedantic pace. I long for a bit of excitable, smash-mouth stuff even if a few passes go astray.
After 3 months of cricket-induced stupor, give me some traditional long ball, clanging of heads, and direct play. Technical skills are a nice bonus, but give me some committed challenges, a bit of recklessness, fast counter attacks and some good ol’ argy-bargy. Gimme some English Premier League soccer.
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