As the British Premier League returned to action this past week after the pandemic enforced break, some fans may have noticed a few things.
This is what I have noticed.
Some of these changes are more apparent than others. Many people have already spoken on the absence of fans, so, I won’t say much on that topic, but, what I do want to speak on, is how the game is being played.
In the first few games, you would expect that many of the players would have some form of rust on their games. For some, that was certainly the case, but, you also saw teams like Manchester City who look to have not skipped a beat. They tore apart Arsenal, and then stepped on the neck of Burnley early, and didn’t let off until the final whistle.
For this, we must applaud Pep Guardiola for how he motivated his team throughout the break, even while losing his mother to the pandemic.
Even though Manchester City’s season may be considered a failure due to not winning the league, I will say that I believe Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world right now.
The second thing I noticed was how players are reacting after getting fouled. The players rarely rush to the referee in the same manner that they used to do, in order to try and influence the decision. This change could be because the players have gotten used to staying a decent distance away from others, or, they realize that the referee will be less influenced because they do not have to face the backlash of the fans.
Many of the people that dislike soccer (football), hate it due to players diving, complaining, and other forms of bad sportsmanship. If the players can adopt a new style of interacting with the referees, the sport may attract a few more fans (not that it needs help being popular).
The final thing that was blatantly apparent to me in the first week of games is that soccer is nothing without its culture. The theatre amplifies the beauty of the game, and an empty theatre is just a place to practice.
The first minute feels the same as the last when the anxiety of the fans isn’t felt in the air.
The game is back, but, it is not fully alive yet. I await the day it rises from the dead, and we can feel its warm embrace once again.