Three things we learned in the Premier League in 2018
In theory, every experience in life — whether good or bad — is meant to be lived and reflected upon as a lesson learned with an eye toward improving for the future.
Thus, three of the most important lessons we learned in the Premier League in 2018…
Records are meant to be broken
Manchester City smashed just about every conceivable record from the PL era en route to winning the league title in runaway fashion. The list includes, but is not limited to:
- Man City won 32 matches, the most in a single PL season
- Man City became the first team to win 100 points in a season
- Man City broke the record for most consecutive wins, winning 18 in a row
- Manchester City scored 106 goals in the PL
- Man City won the title with five games remaining, equalling the record
It is unlikely we will again see a team dominate a single season in the same manner in our lifetimes.
$100 million isn’t a crazy price for a defender
OK, so maybe it is still a crazy amount to pay for a defender — or any player, for that matter — but Virgil van Dijk has already, if one could possibly do so, justified in 12 months the price tag for his move from Southampton to Liverpool.
Perhaps the lesson learned here is this: if you have the chance to sign (arguably) the best defender in the world, and you are all but certain that position is the one missing piece standing between your team and PL domination, write the selling club a blank check. While the rest of the world goes crazy over midfielders and forwards — who remain plenty important in the modern game, no doubt — feel free to go left when everyone else is going right, from time to time.
Jose Mourinho and modern-day players do not mix
It’s easy to say that professional footballers should adapt to whatever tactics or management style they’re given by the manager at their employing club, that they’re paid more than enough to be expected to fall in line on command, that they know their place and don’t ruffle any feathers. Jose Mourinho believes this wholeheartedly, of course.
Thus, 2018 taught us that Mourinho’s strict man-management style no longer works with players of the present day. The vast majority of power, much like in the major sports leagues in the United States, now lies with the players.
Think about it this way: the reason a player like, say, Paul Pogba costs a club like, say, Manchester United, a then-record fee of $116 million is not only because he’s a brilliant player who’ll undoubtedly improve the first-team squad. Of course that’s a key part of it, but it’s not just that. It’s Pogba’s loud and lovable personality; his flicks and tricks on the ball; his flair and flashy hair; his name and face recognition; his marketability and brand.
It’s very simple: Mourinho doesn’t work well with — nor has he ever — players who possess too much of the above trait(s). His management style is to slowly drain — or quickly beat — it out of them until they fall in line as another nameless, faceless cog in his plain vanilla machine. Mourinho’s failure to adapt, though, was his only irreversible mistake in 2018. Never mind the fact it’s infinitely easier to replace one manager than an entire squad of players.