So what is life really like back in the Premier League?
Two years ago, in a desperate attempt to try and remain upbeat about City having dropped into the third flight of English football for the first time in fifty years I wrote an article about the benefits of being in League One.
At the time of writing we had just found the diamond formation, banged in a few goals against Orient and Bristol Rovers and won in the JPT at Gillingham so my overall tone was generally upbeat. I had re-discovered winning football, tolerated comedy refereeing, and was happy that City were a big fish in a little pond.
Last season after City had gained eighteen points in January I was a little more realistic in comparing life in the Championship to being in League One. We were back to international breaks, more TV games and playing in soulless industrial parks such as the Madjad as opposed to quaint outposts like Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Ground. I ended my article with the ludicrously optimistic line, “The Championship playoff final is the big one. Premier League here we come!” I was more than happy to be wrong on the first half of that prediction.
So what is life really like back in the Premier League compared to the Championship and League One?
Premier League football means crazy kick-off times, selected to cause maximum inconvenience to supporters. Sundays, Mondays and recently we have found out that not even the sacred cow that is Boxing Day football is safe from the Sky Sports TV schedule. Of our nineteen home fixtures at least five will be at silly o’clock which means that either I will have to watch on TV or work out how I can get back from Norwich when the last train back to London leaves just as the final whistle blows.
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Tim’s Premier League TV football rating? Mr McNally and the bank manager may be happy but I am not.
In League One the quality of the football was very variable but mostly honest. In the Championship there was marked improvement in the quality of the games but a big increase in the, er, “professionalism” of the players. In the Premier League we’ve already seen City pit their wits against some teams of outstanding quality, but with the outstanding quality comes outstanding ability at diving, falling over, play-acting and other dark arts I didn’t miss in League One.
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Sometimes, in a brief moment of weakness I do feel sorry for the refs; trying to make a correct decision with everyone at it. City found out to their cost in the season’s early games when only 50 percent of the teams were at it, but now we’ve worked out how to be as professional as the next team I’m sure we’ll fit into the big league way of doing things just fine.
Tim’s Premier League being professional verdict? A poor start but we’re now up and running.
Opinions, don’t you just love them. Just like another part of the body, everybody’s got one. But when the opinion is voiced at 10.45pm on a Saturday night from an ex-pro on a sofa wearing a shirt that causes the HD picture on my TV to distort, even the Xtra Factor on ITV2 is a preferable option. After just seven editions of Match of the Day, I’m already looking forward to when the punditry of Messrs Shearer, Hanson and Lawrenson is consigned to the scrapheap.
Tim’s Premier League Match of the Day expert opinion verdict? Surviving the ordeal. Sky plussing and fast forwarding in between games is preserving my sanity.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a few dodgy decisions go our way, some against, and the odd shocker thanks to Michael Oliver and Eddie Ilderton, but as City have been winning more often than not we’ve been able to ride these out. But as we all should already know by now, in the big league the big clubs generally get the big decisions; Torres somehow staying on the pitch at Chelsea being a prime example.
In my own simple little world, when the ref gives a shocking penalty against City I ask myself whether he’d have the guts to give it against the Evil Empire at Old Trafford. The answer is of course no.
Tim’s Premier League big decision verdict? There’s a pecking order in the big league, we’re near the bottom and we need to get used to it fast.
Premier League football means wall to wall coverage of City. We get a report in every paper, and are featured on Football Focus and get to see forty minutes of our game on Football First. Our matches are streamed on the web, and live in pubs and clubs. Gone are the days when only fifteen hundred of us were at Brentford and could report on what actually happened at the game. Now most of the country knows who we are, and where Norwich is on the map. Long may it continue!
Tim’s Premier League press and highlights coverage rating? Loving it being back in the national media spotlight.