European soccer teams like to present themselves as something bigger than just sporting institutions. That they are a part of their communities, they are clubs that the supporters are more than just fans of (and in some cases are actually the owners of), and that while doing well on the pitch is important that is not everything.
I think more and more this is being revealed to be just a facade that helps to give good PR for a team.
The first major blow to this was the Super League.
I actually think to a certain extent a Super League makes sense. The inequality within most leagues has made things a bit uninteresting. This is something that the biggest teams have made through pushing to get bigger and bigger slices of the revenue pie, even if it comes at the expense of the long-term health of the sport.
In the Premier League, I saw the first time a match where a team is favored by more than 90%, in the Bundesliga Bayern are 85% against Wolfsburg who are not a small team, PSG is 90% favorites to win against Montpellier, Barcellona is 83% against Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid is 70% away against Almeria.
Having a handful of matches where there are some really big favorites will happen but this is something where it is almost what is the point of even playing when it is so tilted.
The Super League could have helped address this but rather than it being something that tried to go towards making things better it ended up feeling like a cash grab.
The second major blow for me on my path to cynicism was just looking at what clubs do with regards to signing players, how clubs treat players they have under contract, and making choices about playing players.
Teams have all of these great initiatives but it does seem that these are only things that are valuable when they can create good stories in the press but if it actually came to making a choice between actually supporting these types of initiatives and potentially losing points a team will choose points.
The majority of the team's fans seem to be okay with this so maybe I need to get on board with it too. All the community stuff while maybe a nice side benefit is just marketing and not something really important. All the stuff about "more than a club" or "non-negotiables" are just more marketing slogans that when push comes to shove are something that wouldn't be worth sacrificing. Short-term gains are more important than long-term.
I long ago stopped thinking that players are special as role models or anything really worthy of praise outside of their sporting achievements and I think it is time to start thinking the same way about the teams (it was probably naive to think otherwise).
Week 2 Premier League Odds
This week is an interesting mix of lopsided odds and some close matchups.
In the early match, it will see two teams that lost their opening game and are looking to bounce back. This match unfortunately doesn't hold quite enough drama for me to warrant waking up at 4:30 in the morning.
The 7am kickoffs feature Arsenal this weekend and that will be where I watch. Arsenal will come in as favorites against a Leicester team that is dangerous but still bizarre to me because they haven't really done much with players coming in.
The other kickoffs at this time feature the biggest one-sided odds I have seen from my model with Manchester City hosting Bournemouth. The biggest last season was up to 87% but this match moved past 90%.
The other match besides Arsenal that I am intrigued by in this time slot is Brighton vs Newcastle. Both teams won and played well, they are both looking like frisky upper midtable teams and currently look evenly matched. This will be a good measuring stick for Newcastle on how high up the table they might be able to challenge.
The late Saturday match is another one that will be must-watch because of the potential for meltdown.
Manchester United played pretty poorly against Brighton and will have another tough matchup going to Brentford. I enjoyed the schadenfreude last weekend and would to have a bit more on Saturday.
On Sunday there are just two matches. The first one will be my first chance to really get a good look at Forest but I think this will still be a hard match for them against a West Ham team that will look to bounce back from their loss.
Late Sunday one and maybe both, of the teams, that Arsenal are up against for the top four will have dropped points and that is pretty great no matter what really happens here.
Monday ends the week with Liverpool big favorites to bounce back but they are going against a Crystal Palace team that looked like a handful against Arsenal.
Yee Haw. Enjoy the weekend.