Things that I think and do
If you follow the sport news (or if, like me, you happen to see a mildly intriguing sports headline on the BBC website) you’ll have seen that José Mourinho, Chelski FC’s manager, has said today that the league table is ‘fake’.
Quite what he means by this isn’t really clear, so perhaps his true sentiments got lost in translation. While his English speaking ability is far better than my Portuguese, there are times in interviews where JoMo remains somewhat incomprehensible.
Some of his explanatory quotes might help us get a vague understanding. He says that
“the table is again with a lot of matches in hand”
“You look to the top part of the table and, some teams, they have more matches than others. You look to the relegation area and it’s exactly the same.”
Well, quite. What the Special Chap has provided here is, fundamentally, an explanation of how the Premier League table – and in fact any other league table in the world – works.
Big José’s impossible dream of a league table is one which never takes into account a variety of factors in modern football: weeks off, postponed games, cancelled games, international club competition, international breaks and other domestic cups.
His big issue about having games in hand has come around because Manchester City (one of Chelski’s rivals for the title) had one game postponed due to “weather” – exactly what the BBC means by that is unclear – and they are playing another match four days before the final weekend of the season.
What Mourinho seems to have missed about this system is that it has no benefits or disadvantages, either for the team with games in hand or for those with a hand devoid of games.
City lost one or three points from their first (postponed) game, so they’ll be temporarily behind, but they can get those points again when the game comes around. Likewise with their second game in hand (although that’ll probably be three points as it’s against Aston Villa, who would currently struggle to beat a regional under-7s team).
The whole system is designed to even out in the end, which it does. For no teams to have games in hand would mean that all league teams would play on the same day of the week, with no weeks off for any other competitions, rest, or international breaks. Which would be thoroughly boring.
My main point here is that José Mourinho is, once again, talking bollocks.