Everyone loves the opportunity of a fresh start in any aspect of their life. It gives them the chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over again without the past weighing heavily on their future.
With the start of the new English Premier League season this weekend, every one of the 20 teams including the newly promoted sides (Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield) would have set a target for the upcoming season. Meeting this target would not only make the respective club’s fans, sponsors and players happy but also keep the manager’s job safe for at least another season.
Before Leicester City were crowned league champions in 2015/16, the idea of a small team challenging for the title, let alone winning, was not something even remotely possible in this day and age where bigger clubs with deep pockets tend to rule the roost.
But it did happen and as a result, fans of every team in the league, even the smaller ones, at the start of the season may harbour a hope that lightning can strike the same spot twice and that their team might be able to emulate Leicester City's fairy tale achievement.
Managing expectations can be a tricky thing in the world of professional football. Setting the bar too low could make fans, players and club owners question if they have the right manager for the job. Set the bar too high and it could backfire when results do not go their way.
A perfect example of managers who were crushed by the weight of expectations were Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), and Claudio Raneiri (Leicester City) who were shown the exit barely a year after they celebrated winning the league title. Perhaps Chelsea’s Antonio Conte may be the next manager to join this unflattering list.
Player transfers also help shape the opinion of fans and the media towards a respective club. Spend too little or nothing at all (looking at you Tottenham Hotspur) and the expectation of the club’s chances of success is less.
Manchester City on the other hand have spent lavishly and signed all their players soon after the transfer window opened in July, allowing time for their new players to be integrated in Pep Guardiola’s system. Coupled with a manager with a proven track record in Barcelona, Bayern Munich and in the UEFA Champions League, bookmakers, the media and even the fans have tipped Manchester City as favourites to lift the Premier League trophy this season.
However, other teams have also gone on a recruitment drive over the past two months and look to add a few more before the summer transfer window closes on Aug 31 in hopes of strengthening their final league standing by May next year.
Win, lose or draw, fans of the EPL can always expect a fun-filled ride of ups and downs over the next 10 months. Let the games begin and may the best team wins!