Season opener over-reactions

by Philip Greene

While most of the leagues in mainland Europe embark on a new season this weekend, we have just witnessed the first game-week in the most exciting league in the world. And not only is the English Championship back but the Premier League also had its big kick-off this weekend.

After a long summer without football, at least for those poor souls who could not stay up into July’s small hours to watch the Copa America, to have actual matches back for us to pour over is a huge relief. There are only so many transfer rumours one can invest in before losing the will to carry on and so the widespread return of on-field action is to be roundly applauded.

 

At least, that is until you realise that a new football season brings with it a return of the screeching, wide-eyed madness of footballing Twitter.

Not content with making Saturday mornings, Saturday evenings and all day Sunday no-fly zones in certain parts of Twitter, TV broadcasters have introduced Friday evening games for the Premier League, meaning there is little of the weekend left safe from the ramblings of fans delirious with either grief or glee following a result for or against their team.

It was all a little over-whelming this weekend. Perhaps this writer should have been better prepared for the flood of tweets which began as a trickle on Saturday morning, turned into a steady pour around lunchtime until the dam finally broke Saturday evening and did not stop flowing for the next 24 hours.

Never the less, the sheer volume of maniacal tweeting that went on was astounding. People were either preparing the route for the trophy parade or becoming pre-emptively angry (very very angry) just in case of a bad result.

I am all for being excited for the start of the season. That is absolutely to be encouraged. If you cannot be excited by a new year full of possibilities, by all the teams joint top on zero points, by the step into the great unknown that we all take as fans on that first day, well then you’re watching the wrong sport.

Seeing your team play in their new kit, studying how they line up and how the new signings are fitting in, it’s all enough to get anyone quite worked up

Having said all that, becoming bent out of shape about the first result of the season is neither healthy nor helpful. It is literally the smallest sample size we can use to gauge how a team’s season will go. One game out of 37 (in the case of the Premier League) will not determine how a team will do come May.

However, if Twitter is to be believed (and i realise that it rarely is), a win means certain glory and an unbeaten season while a loss should see the manager sacked, the players sold and the chairman sacrificed to the footballing gods in the hope that this pit of despair can still be saved.

We have all been frustrated by our teams in certain matches. For some of us, this is a more familiar feeling than for others. Angrily tweeting about how rubbish your team is playing in game is understandable to a point, but it is not the basis for a thesis on why they’ll lose every game they’ll play this year and never score a goal.

And just because your team scored a belting goal from 30 yards to win their first game of the season does not mean that this year is finally your year.

 

Football, it turns out, is far more enjoyable if you actually set out to enjoy it. As strange as the concept may seem, it is more fun watching your team play if you are not ready to spring angrily on any mistake or use any win as a stick to beat your rival fans with into dreary, soul destroying oblivion.

Football Twitter is a wonderful place at times. It just so happens that fewer and fewer of those times are coinciding with times when football is on the television. I am not naive enough to think that this is going to change, but it is still a nice thought to imagine a world where tweets during a football game are less about what this game means for the next game and more about what is actually occurring out on the pitch in real time.

In this era of instant gratification, fans too often want long term solutions for what is a very temporary problem. Lose one game, drop players. Lose another, sack the manager. Lose a third, give up the game because clearly the team is doomed.

If the first weekend of this footballing season is anything to go by, Twitter has only become more raving over the summer. Hopes are fading by the game that we can find some appreciation of what is actually happening on the pitch rather than a shouting match fought through capital letters.

However, as I have said, one game is no barometer for how a season will go. Perhaps football Twitter will prove me wrong. Here I am roaring about relegation and maybe, come May, we’ll all be basking in the glow of title glory.

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