Why are broadcasters so fast to declare title races over, given they shell out billions that need supporters to stay as paying customers?
Manchester City went 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League on Sunday, with their 2-1 win at arch rivals Manchester United, but not even half a season has been played yet.
It would make more sense for broadcasters to whip up inane interest until titles, relegations and promotions are all but settled, so why the scramble to call title races over when there is still so much of the season to play?
It is bizarrely counter-productive for the media to decide that City have wrapped up the league. They need public interest to be maintained, or they will lose revenue and traffic to their expensive product. If people think there is nothing to tune in for, they might cancel their subscriptions.
If City needed 1 point from their final 5 games to secure the title, the media should be feigning the possibility that they might lose their matches and that a rival could beat them to it. That might retain an audience.
As it stands, City have played 16 of 38 league games. They’re hardly on the brink of lifting the trophy, although look out for how quickly that phrase is rolled out. February? January? Christmas?
You’d think that no team has ever held a lead before, or lost one. The history of top-flight football is littered with sides that squandered sizeable advantages. The media often bang on that “they won’t lose many games now”, yet we see collapses every year.
Defeats always look bad, but draws are highly damaging, sometimes more so than defeats. To draw late from a winning position, to drop two points, is more punishing than to lose late from a drawing position, in a game you were not going to win, to drop one point. Draws drain belief and confidence, slowly. Draws are a slow puncture.
City do look in incredible shape, but there is no way to know what events or injuries lie ahead. The heavy December schedule could yet pose them problems. City have to visit most of their rivals in the second half of the season too. They’ve passed a test at United, but many more tests await.
Can City emulate Arsenal’s Invincibles of 2004? Two or three defeats are still likely. Arsenal’s chances only got taken seriously in the final third of that season. City have been talked up after six games. It’s too much attention, for too long.
Although given the media’s propensity for prematurity, expect City to be declared invincible before the season is over.