Clubs in England are about to find out how much of an impact their fans actually make during 90 minutes as they set out on a course to finish the season by the end of July. For the first time in the history of the Premier League and Championship, clubs will play behind closed doors with fans not permitted to attend any fixtures for the foreseeable future; naturally, some clubs will fare better than others.
The big boys will be okay… for now
Indeed, you can’t see Pep Guardiola’s silky Manchester City falling apart at the seams because no one is doing the Poznan at their home ground the Etihad Stadium. In any case, the jury is out on how much noise their fans make when it is packed to the rafters, but that is a discussion for another day.
BREAKING: The French Prime Minister has banned all big sporting events, including those behind closed doors, until September.
"The 2019/20 football season cannot restart." pic.twitter.com/eBCO1I5PLS
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 28, 2020
The point stands though, they won’t come unstuck under Guardiola, the man who reinvented the modern game.
Furthermore, just because You Never Walk Alone isn’t sung at Anfield before the start of a Liverpool game in the coming weeks doesn’t mean that Jurgen Klopp’s men won’t romp to the title. Even before games were to be played behind closed doors, people were referring to Klopp’s players as ‘mentality monsters’, meaning nothing can affect them on the pitch. Indeed, it will be as you were at the top.
It may, however, affect teams in the relegation zone a bit more who may otherwise rely on their fans to roar them across the line.
Relegation-threatened teams will struggle
The fact of the matter is that if you aren’t playing decent football, you need every advantage that you can get. Although there are many unknowns as to how teams will react.
Perhaps though, as mentioned in an in-depth article from Betway on how important match-going fans really are, while there are many financial aspects of what fans bring to the table, West Ham captain Alvin Martin spoke about his experience of not having an atmosphere to draw on, which is arguably more important. Martin discussed how UEFA had imposed a supporters ban on the Boleyn Ground, recalling how peculiar it was that there was no energy coming from the terraces. This same eerie atmosphere that Martin talks about is likely to harm the clubs who desperately need a lift during 90 minutes.
Interestingly, this same piece goes on to list the different decibels registered at all the Premier League grounds. The research shows that Villa Park, for example, has one of the lowest decibels registered at 76dB and is only slightly louder than that of an alarm clock or vacuum cleaner, 70dB. In many ways, this all makes sense when you see Villa, as of the 11th of June, at odds of 2/5 with Betway to go down given the crowd doesn’t necessarily get behind them that much anyway. But not every team will continue in the same form as they were in before, and it will be horses for courses.
Indeed, there will no doubt be some adjusting to get used to for everyone over the next nine games, but once they have come out the other side, could they have nullified the advantage of playing at home?
La Liga's clubs have been told that football matches in Spain will be played behind closed doors until 2021, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN. pic.twitter.com/LkRt4uMw5Q
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 23, 2020
The fear factor may not be there in seasons to come
Once you’ve played without any fans at Old Trafford as struggling Bournemouth will do in the coming weeks, even if they lose, the Cherries may have a very different expectation the next time they’re asked to go back there.
They were able to beat United at the Vitality earlier in the season but that’s unlikely to happen again up North. However, that assumption could begin to change as clubs that have historically battled away from home will now see these grounds in a completely new light, without the intimidating armour that they normally have on. It will undoubtedly be a reminder that football is 11 v 11 on a green pitch with two goals. Next season is going to be extremely interesting, but could we see upset after upset during the run-in in England?
If we were to cast our eye over the continent, we would see that there hasn’t been much change in the immediate status quo.
For instance, we’ve seen how the rest of Europe has adapted to playing football behind closed doors and how strange it is. But for the most part, it has been business as usual.
Borussia Dortmund were the ones to get us underway again during the middle of May as they relentlessly smashed a hapless Schalke all over the pitch and won 4-0. A result everyone expected.
Bayern Munich may narrowly have beaten Dortmund 1-0 at the end of May at Signal Iduna Park but then again, that’s hardly a surprise; the Bavarians do have it their own way in the Bundesliga.
Relentless Bayern Munich pressure finally pays off 👌
Ivan Perišić opens the scoring, but they look in the mood tonight 😏 pic.twitter.com/Wq3lOxNgr3
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) June 10, 2020
So no, we shouldn’t expect many surprises in England during the remaining nine fixtures but after that, well, who knows what would have changed?
There’s every possibility that travelling teams who have in the past have felt inferior, won’t suffer from imposter syndrome as much now that the focus has gone back to what happens purely on the pitch. Football could well be about to go through a revolution; fortunately, it will also be televised.