You could imagine a collective rolling of the eyes as “great advert for the league” and “this is the greatest league in the world” got bandied about in record numbers following Chelsea and Tottenham’s heated 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon.
Sky producers couldn’t believe their luck as Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte went for two rounds in amongst the madness on the pitch, firstly after Spurs’ initial equaliser when the Italian got in the German’s face as he fumed with the fourth official over a missed call for an apparent foul on Kai Havertz earlier in the move, and secondly at full time when the pair couldn’t be separated at the handshake in a bizarre, but utterly hilarious moment of football television.
The weekend of the 25th February has already been marked in calendars for part two, as no doubt the Sky editors are working earnestly on video packages this week while the broadcaster waits patiently to strike the deal that grants them the coverage of the game.
Sorry BT, you’re not in the running for this one. This could be shilled on pay-per-view for a once-off €21.99 fee, or perhaps it’ll go the opposite and be aired for free on Sky One so the whole country can unite with popcorn at hand.
Drama and theatrics aside, the football itself served up a perfect Super Sunday feast as Chelsea poked and prodded and seemed to have the better of Spurs, who until a second half adjustment looked still to be in pre-season mode. That led to the second half eruption as both sides trades blows before Harry Kane’s injury time equaliser sent temperatures and limbs soaring in the away end.
It was Barclays at its finest and this season’s perfect illustration of two sides still learning about themselves while simultaneously attempting to unravel their opponents.
But the managerial bust-up as tempers flared was a nostalgic trip to an era that football fans of this current generation remember with yearning fondness. The football is infinitely better nowadays, but with the increase in standards and quality has come a more harmonious and watered down relationship between rivals.
Gone are the days of icy tunnels and heated dugouts. Gone are the stares that would cut steel and big characters that main evented while the football played second fiddle on the card. It’s all clapping hands and hugs before and after games while the two prime managers of our time, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, embrace in a cringeworthy moment of respect and honour for each other’s ability and managerial craft. Sickening.
No, this was a moment that belonged to a bygone era of Premiership nostalgia that has lived the test of time in modern football with clips and images of Roy Keane versus Patrick Vieira, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Martin Keown, mixing in the early days of Jose Mourinho and when Super Sunday was exactly what it said on the tin with unmissable football drama.
An era before social media and Twitter, but one that to this day dishes up viral clips and images tagged with “the streets will never forget” retweeted en masse as Vieira looks on menacingly with Vicks vaporub all over his shirt. Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard, but what about Paul Scholes?
This was the closest we might get to both worlds colliding, as the football was just as good as the pitchside entertainment. It was like the VAR machine was switched off and both teams were told right lads, nothing below the belt.
Jamie Carragher was spot on when he exclaimed on the broadcast “people say we don’t want to see scenes like that but I love it, I want more of it!”
The referee missed some very questionable calls, while Cristian Romero went home with a souvenir in a few locks of Marc Cucurella’s curly bonce and two red cards dished out long after the whistle had been blown as Tuchel and Conte shared in the longest handshake since Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin (one for our Irish readers) was simply the icing on the cake.
This may not warrant greatest league in the world nonsense, but it sure as hell was a great advert to tune in next time.