The new Premier League football season kicked off last weekend, with all the usual hype and wall-to-wall media coverage that the Sky driven sporting extravaganza attracts nowadays.
For all the moans and groans from traditionalists such as myself, there is little doubt that the Murdoch money, as well as feathering the nests of many hundreds of footballers and many thousands of their hangers on, has also made the game a more appealing, family friendly sport.
Indeed, as an export, the Premier League is England’s most successful product, and as a competition it is, globally, football’s most exciting, and most watched.
Not that long ago the brand Leeds United was synonymous with top flight football, weather that be the old First Division or the new promised land of the Premier League. Indeed, it was as a result of chasing the ultimate fantasy of Champions League football that has arguably left United in the mess that its most recent history has been and to which I wrote about HERE.
Indeed a far more heartfelt and comprehensive ‘diary’ of the rise and fall of this great footballing institution can be found in the latest issue of men’s magazine Esquire in an excellent feature written by Leeds supporter Richard Benson. (http://www.esquire.co.uk/culture/sport/6825/the-fall-and-fall-of-leeds-united)
He paints a dire picture and seems to be as pessimistic about the clubs immediate prospects as any fan could be. To be fair, given the false dawns, broken promises and downright failure of all associated with Leeds in recent times, one can hardly blame him.
However, new season brings new hope – and in Leeds’ case a new owner too. One swallow does not a summer make, but a single goal victory on Saturday over Middlesbrough, with a late strike from new signing Billy Sharp, gives all of us who are hoping for a return to the top division for the Yorkshire giants a tad more reason for optimism. To follow that result up with a tame home defeat at the hands of Brighton mid week was not great – but let’s stay as positive as we can for as long as we can and give the new Elland Road regime a chance.
New Italian owner Massimo Cellino may seem a little eccentric, but his apparent enthusiasm for the project and his direct and robust style might just be what the club needs.
Of course, it could all go horribly ‘Pete Tong’ again – but surely, in the words of Labour Party activists circa 1997, when incidentally Leeds finished the season a very respectable fifth in the Premier League * – ‘things can only get better’. Let’s hope so anyway!
*Leeds United finished 5th in the 1997/8 season. In the 1996/7 season they finished 11th.