Every team obviously. But some rather more than most. And definitely more than this six…
Irrespective of whether or not the season continues – and it is looking increasingly likely that it will be the latter – Liverpool’s first title win in 30 years will always come with an asterisk.
No matter how many records they break, how many assists their full-backs garner, or how many games of the season are played, should Liverpool be allowed to officially finish the season as champions, there will forever be a footnote associated with their first ever Premier League title. That perennial ‘but’ should mean next to nothing, but it will provide their rivals – and the fanbases of said rivals – with enough ammunition to taunt Reds fans for another three decades.
The relegation favourites have confounded their critics in almost every way possible, but the enforced break from football could have a negative impact on the final quarter of the Yorkshire side’s campaign.
International breaks have broken the momentum of one of the tightest squads in the division, the Blades proving to be their toughest when momentum has been flowing. A team who much prefer playing twice in a week as opposed to once every fortnight may have to cope with months without action. Coming back from the extended football deficit may well be Wilder’s toughest challenge yet.
A long wait to be in this position, and while the Elland Road side haven’t built the near-unassailable lead that the Merseysiders have done in the top flight, a second season under perfectionist Marcelo Bielsa and a generally poor second-tier league this time around means promotion to the Premier League would have been a near-certainty come May.
Should the season be declared null and void and Leeds’ wait for the Premier League made to stretch to a 16th season, it can be safely assumed the footballing Gods will never smile kindly on the self-proclaimed ‘Champions of Europe’. And they will sue.
Leeds United finishing 1st in the Championship and then playing next season in the Championship could be the most Leeds United thing ever.
— Tom Carnduff (@TomC_22) March 12, 2020
Far from being title winners, promotion favourites or fighting for Europe, Derby County have less obvious but equally valid reasons to be miffed with the coronavirus outbreak. For the first time in Philip Cocu’s reign at Pride Park, a semblance of consistency and, well, pride has swelled the Derbyshire side, so much so that the DE14 outfit sit just five points outside the play-off places with nine games of the season remaining following a run of one defeat in five league outings.
Again, it is more the quality of the division this season which has allowed Cocu’s side a chance at the top six, but such optimism has looked so much in short supply across the entirety of the campaign that having something to fight for, as well as rediscovering how to not lose away from home, means the last three-quarters of a season – should they ever be played – cannot come soon enough for Rams fans.
From one team putting a bad start to the season behind them and gaining some momentum looking up the table, to their contemporaries still looking over their shoulder but with hope of avoiding successive relegations from the top flight to League One.
If Danny Cowley does indeed keep this Huddersfield Town team in the second tier, it will rival any success of his stellar times at Lincoln City. After the Terriers took just two points from their opening eight fixtures, two wins from their last three matches have taken them three points and four places above the dotted line. Such momentum is not to be sniffed at, even by Covid-19.
Gillingham have lost just two of their last 18 League One games. Both defeats have come against AFC Wimbledon. That the Dons will not play the Gills again this season – coronavirus or not – means that the eight points that Steve Evans’ stubborn Gillingham side need to claw their way into the top six does not seem impossible.
A good number of games in their largely unbeaten run has been measured in draws but it is at this stage of the season where Evans comes into his own. Keeping the momentum from the 2-2 draw at Sunderland last time out would have been the best course of action for the Gills, whose short hopes of reaching the top six needed every boost available.
Nathan Spafford – follow him on Twitter