England’s top tier of soccer completed its first weekend chock full of early goal-of-the-year candidates and (just as predictably) serious injuries to Wayne Rooney. But for the Guardian’s Martin Kelner, it’s all about the new name. “The new season seems to have arrived too soon,” ponders Kelner. “I felt there was a good two weeks left in the Carlos Tevez transfer saga.”
The new Premier League season is real, right enough. Premier League, note, no longer the Premiership. This is a rebranding that will be viewed with suspicion by those of us old enough to remember Windscale being renamed Sellafield in a bid to make nuclear power more cuddly, but may serve to remind us all that the ground has shifted in a number of ways this season. Sven-Goran Eriksson (above, right), for instance. You will remember him, the Swedish chap who used to be in charge of our national team, whom we all agreed was quite a hoot when it came to wearing stacked heels, and tapping off with his secretary at the office Christmas do, but tactically a bit of a duffer, unable to mould the golden generation of English footballers into a plausible team. Well, there he was, on opening day, with a bunch of players he bought from a catalogue, thoroughly outwitting the one-time brightest hope for English football, Alan Curbishley, who clearly had failed to note in his diary the start date of the new season – or, if he had, had neglected to mention it to Anton Ferdinand.
How, I asked myself, would Sven’s former tormentors in the media cope with these changed circumstances? Would there be fulsome apologies? Would the Match Of The Day team – whose rubbishing of Sven, remember, was said to have been a factor in the BBC losing FA Cup rights – appear bare-backed, flailing themselves like participants in some arcane religious ritual? Well, not exactly, but then the turquoise and pink of the new MOTD set do not seem designed for penitence, more for a teenage daughter’s bedroom, or the Pringle sweater of a bank manager who wants to look racy on the golf course.
The team nominated Alan Hansen to set the record straight in Sven’s favour, stressing the kind of managerial genius needed to integrate five new foreign players into a Premier League team, and added: “The best part about it was that every foreigner looked good. We’ve seen it time and time again, foreigners come to this country, you look at them, and you think they’re the wrong side of useless,” at which Gary Lineker laughed the nervous laugh of a man who fervently hoped his colleague was talking about footballers.