The Premier League has many delights and despairs on offer this year but is it just me or is there something missing?
1) Joey Barton getting sent off and tweeting derisory nonsense is something I thought I’d be glad to see the back of. His interviews are still good value for a giggle now that he’s adopted a French accent, but it’s not the same anymore.
He still tweets but who cares? Ligue 1 has inherited the most infamous wind-up merchant since Robbie Savage but I sometimes wonder whether his charm is somewhat lost in translation over there. "What? Me, Ref?" just doesn't have the same ring to it unless it's in a Scouse accent. C’est la vie.
2) The Mario Balotelli sideshow packed its bags and said goodbye to the circus last month. Do you miss him? Not even a little bit? They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. Super Mario and his amateur dramatics ensured there was rarely a dull moment in Manchester.
Who can we rely on to create calamity and chaos now? Who knows, with any luck Carlos Tevez will get back on track with his telenovela series entitled ‘I don’t want to play, boss’. Variety is the spice of life, so they say.
3) Ian Holloway’s comedy conferences are a long-lost relic of Premier League football’s past. I’m hoping Crystal Palace get promoted from the Championship purely on an entertainment basis.
"Every dog has its day - and today is woof day! Today I just want to bark."
"I couldn't be more chuffed if I were a badger at the start of the mating season."
"One minute I was painting the lounge, the next I'm being asked to manage a Championship side. My wife will have to finish the glossing."
There really is only one Ian Holloway. Thank Goodness.
4) Andy Gray and Richard Keys talking rubbish on Sky Sports. Now we actually have (remotely) intelligent and insightful pundits like Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp to offer some respite from the boring old boys’ club over at the BBC. Alan Shearer, Alan Hanson, Andy Gray, pass me the sick bucket. There’s a reason they all begin with ‘A’.
The only odd one out is Ben Sheppard – every time he links to an ad break, I keep expecting the Loose Women theme tune to be coming up next. It’s very disorientating. Especially with a hangover.
Still, if you're experiencing sexism and ignorance withdrawal symptoms, you can find these two fools on al-Jazeera now.
5) A proper title race. Let’s face it, they think it's all over. It is now. City won’t catch United. The bookies have already started paying out on the title. The next three months are just a formality now. It’s rubbish. Unless you’re a United fan of course, in which case, sssshhhhh. I’m not a City or a United fan but there was something very special about “Agueeeeerooooooo!!!”
image: © michael kjaer