The 2021 season has been one for the great pretenders

The various headlines from different stages of the 2021 season will make for intriguing and possibly even humorous reading come the summer.

Indeed, if one is at a bit of a loose end on a sun lounger on the Mediterranean, and looking for an activity before the next Euro fixture kicks off, perhaps a trip down memory lane and a perusal of all the outlandish claims about particular managers will do a lot to keep one entertained.

Of course, there is an element of hindsight being the perfect science when it comes to scoffing at what others have said during a time when it seemed plausible. But, at other times, it is blindingly obvious that a certain opinion is without much substance, like the time it was suggested that Chelsea would win the Premier League in November, despite being in third position.

It’s not unheard of for a team to be third and end up being champions in May but, in this case, we would be forgetting that Lampard hadn’t won anything in his managerial career yet. The Englishman’s defensive flaws were apparent in his first season at Stamford Bridge and many would argue that Frank wasn’t qualified for the job in the first place. Rather, his longstanding ties with Chelsea and a club transfer embargo meant he was the available candidate.

A few back-to-back wins and the fairy tale was prematurely written without examining the hard facts. As it happened, Lampard would be fired in late January.

Then there was the hullabaloo around Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leading Manchester United to the title after taking the Red Devils to the summit of the league, only to lose to last-placed Sheffield United in the next match. Manchester United are still within touching distance of the leaders, but you just feel that the Norwegian’s managerial flaws are being hidden by the immense talent of Bruno Fernandes.

Indeed, despite being mere points off top spot, Manchester United are at an outside 8/1 to win the title in Premier League betting, which perhaps says all you need to know about the authenticity of their claim to the top-flight throne.

Elsewhere, it was enthusiastically suggested that Spurs would also win the title in November but here we are in early February with Spurs well adrift. Jose Mourinho is by no means a great pretender like his counterparts at Chelsea and Manchester United – the 58-year-old has won three Premier League titles and will be remembered as one of the greats of Premier League management – but there is a growing feeling that his time has come and gone at the top.

So, whilst we’ve seen some colourful opinions over the course of the season that were built on sentiment rather than reality, it’s obviously important to remember that football is a game of opinions. It is these opinions that comprise the global conversation and the game is better off for them, but that doesn’t mean all of them stand up to scrutiny.

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