An era-defining title, Chelsea’s top-four fight and Gerrard v Lampard

Forced to cut its ties with Gazprom, football is now powered by something sustainable: narrative.

It is the almighty god which at which both traditional and social media worship, the fuel for heated phone-ins, crucial newspaper articles and analysis of fiery pundits’ analysis by other fiery pundits.

It is also necessary. Without it football becomes enormously less interesting, even for the purists. When the shiny stuff stops it can all look like a bit ‘man kicks ball’.

This season the Premier League has served up lashings of the stuff from old favorites like Watford sacking their manager more frequently than most of us wash our jeans to Southampton’s continuing quest to quietly exist in mid-table until the heat death of the universe. All narratives are not created equal.

Now at last we have reached the business end of the season. No more international breaks. A real sense of heft to most games. Frank Lampard only using his serious face.

Here are the remaining narratives of this Premier League campaign, ranked from least to most interesting.

The golden boot

Only really intriguing to fantasy football perverts who have asked with a straight face at some point in their life “who got the assist?” Mohamed Salah is on 20, six goals ahead of Son Heung-min and Diogo Jota. Might be more exciting if he had not won said boot in 2017/18 with 32 goals.

The intriguing teams cup

Not an actual trophy. A point separates Brentford, Crystal Palace and Brighton as it stands, three teams racing for the coveted 12th place. You might laugh, but this was worth £119.9m last year. Game’s gone.

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All three of these teams have impressed in fits and starts, all have brainy young managers, all play football The Right Way. Who will triumph? Will it be fascinating? Okay, maybe not. Will it be mildly interesting? Maybe!

Europa League qualification

The prize for finishing fifth (and sixth, unless Palace win the FA Cup) is passage to a competition which, for clubs, means irritating scheduling and trips to places with names like Wifi passwords.

For fans though it is a welcome jolly-up. It can be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch your team abroad, or on television analyzed by a half-interested Martin Keown.

Unfortunately it is likely to be Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, Wolves or Manchester United in these slots, all of whom have already drunk from the delicious Europa well in recent times.

The managerial standing of Gerrard and Lampard

After a promising start Steven Gerrard is discovering that managing in England is a good deal tougher than the easy mode of leading an Old Firm team in Scotland. Frank Lampard seems to want Everton to play like the elite club they think they are but clearly they are not.

Will Gerrard manage himself into, or out of, the Liverpool job which is assumed to be his destiny? Will Lampard get another chance at a top-tier club if he relegates Everton? If it goes awry for both should they team up and prove they can work together after all, despite a decade of evidence to the contrary while sharing the England midfield?

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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