I won’t lie. Super Six is tricky when the Premier League circus is on a break. Sure, you still have people doing stupid things but there’s only so many times I can call out Jose Mourinho for being grumpy. We need actual action in the Premier League to create our narratives which is why I, for one, am delighted it has returned a week early.
And with no further backchat to the referee, let’s see who excelled this weekend.
#1 West Ham fans
The West Ham fans would have loved an extra week in their pre-season. Not because that would have made the team any less likely to crash and burn in the first weekend but because they could have had one more week of hope. You see, all West Ham have actually done this summer is increase hope. They have not increased the likelihood of success, just increased the height from which people fell on Sunday at Anfield. From being all, “this will be a great season,” West Ham fans are now circumspect saying, “well, Liverpool are the second best team in Europe and we need time to gel, you know?” What will it be next week? And then in October when their team sits comfortably in the bottom half of the Premier League. It took approximately 45 minutes for Manuel Pellegrini to wear the look of a man who realised China was far less on people’s radar than the Athletics Stadium.
I like admitting I am wrong, honest. I laughed heartily with everyone else when Everton paid Watford what felt like about £20m too much for Richarlison, clearly Marco Silva’s favourite player in the world. Yet, more fool me, eh? Richie notched twice on his debut, two more positive actions than he managed at Watford from the moment Everton started sniffing around Silva last season. Could it actually be that the player we saw at the start of last season is actually the player? And that Marco Silva had a word in his ear after six games saying, “quieten it down a bit now, lad – we will both be at Everton by Christmas and I don’t want to have to overpay for you. Pretend you are rubbish for a bit so we can keep the cost down!” If that was part of the ploy, it nearly worked. Richarlison could yet become one of the best signings of the summer – but let’s see how he does after the first six games before we get too carried away?
#3 Paul Pogba
Am I the only one that felt that Jose gave Pogba the armband in the hope he might fail? Pogba’s post-match interview was one of the most curious things he has said and this is a very intelligent guy we are talking about. Does Jose feel threatened by these players who are as intelligent as he is? When you look back at Eden Hazard, another who is able to express himself as an articulate and intelligent individual, you start to wonder if the older Mourinho is unable to manage these personalities. Then, he managed Frank Lampard who comes across equally well. Anyway, I digress. Part of me wants Paul Pogba to struggle and not for the same reasons as Jose wants him to. I want Pogba to struggle so the blame can be laid firmly at Jose’s door and he can disappear off into another sunset with a load of cash in his pocket. And not because I want him to earn more money, but because I want him gone.
#4 Uncle Roy
It wasn’t a bad weekend for Uncle Roy. A birthday, a new contract, Zaha staying put, Zaha scoring and putting a Fulham team who have, theoretically, spent well this summer, to bed with ease. Sure, if the Premier League felt they needed VAR then Fulham would have had a penalty but the way it was going for Palace, they would have saved it. It’s a great start for Hodgson and you only have to compare it to the first game last season to mark the contrast.
#5 Raheem Sterling
Oh, Raheem. Could you have not just done that once during the summer? Not just for the reason of it possibly getting us to the World Cup final, but so that the media might have got off your back? Sterling scored a fine goal against Arsenal, the kind of goal he is not really believed to be capable of – especially when playing for England.
#6 Petr Cech
I think the game is up for Petr, isn’t it? Unai Emery would like someone who can use their feet. Petr Cech can barely use his hands anymore, let alone his feet.