SWANNY’S WORLD OF SPORT: There are no champions here

Harry Winks.
Harry Winks.
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Over-optimism is an English football disease. It’s evident with the England national team ahead of every major tournament (although the presence of Gareth Southgate in the technical area and Jordan Henderson in midfield might dampen enthusiasm when the World Cup in Russia looms large next year) and now it’s gripped followers of our major club teams.

Apparently one of our five Champions League teams are on course to end La Liga domination and win the competition this season.

They’ve all enjoyed fine starts. Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs (albeit tied with Real Madrid) all lead their groups, but peaking too early is a common fault in football.

Posh might have done something similar in League One.

England won’t provide the eventual champion. Class and consistency will tell in the end and there is more of both in La Liga and Ligue 1, and the likes of Barcelona and PSG won’t have to face the physical demands our heroes face on a weekly basis in the Premier League.

Our players will be knackered when the knockout stages start in February. Our own domestic league looks like being so competitive this season it will be a brave manager who starts resting players.

Chelsea’s recent struggles are evidence of how tough combining Premier League action with top-class European football has become.

They romped to the Premier League title last season when their comparitive freshness and fitness gave them a huge edge. They had no European football to throw a spanner into the works.

Now they have lost the irreplaceable N’Golo Kante to injury, a few others look leggy and they managed to lose to a Crystal Palace team managed by Roy Hodgson, before they were given the runaround by Roma in a richly entertaining Champions League tie.

Antonio Conte’s men escaped with a draw, but they are suddenly vulnerable and could have to get a result at home to Atletico Madrid just to get through their group.

Manchester United will soon realise playing for 0-0 draws won’t get them very far once they clash with the big guns, while no team with Lovren and Matip at the heart of their defence can reach the quarter-finals so that’s Liverpool out.

Spurs, for the all the exciting promise of Harry Winks, are just an injury to Harry Kane away from being nobbled which leaves Manchester City as our likeliest contenders. And Napoli troubled them enough in the second half at the Etihad last week to give confidence to the best teams in the competition.

At least Everton have done their bit to avoid a massive false dawn for their fans. Despite spending endless millions in the summer, they are so useless they look doomed to an early Europa League exit.

Celtic will out-last them in Europe which is rather shameful for any Premier League club.