The history of sporting tournaments is littered with tales of players and teams who broke a glass ceiling but ultimately fell away before the summit was attained. The lesson seems to be that the fairytale, captivating as it may be, rarely has a happy ending.
Mick McCarthy is considering delaying a decision on the make-up of his final squad for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Switzerland and the friendly against Bulgaria, amid concerns about the impact of injuries and the amount of game-time some of those in contention are getting with their clubs.
For the past three seasons, the top of the Premier League has been a closed shop. While both Manchester United and Arsenal have recently dropped out of the Champions League places, so far their financial advantages and traditional pulling power for top players have kept their heads above water.
There are two definitions of ‘charisma’ in the dictionary - and while Jose Mourinho may prefer the description as a ‘divinely conferred power or talent’, we're sticking to the more traditional understanding of the word - a ‘compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others’.
Every now and then there comes a match which not only has the potential to define a season but also possesses the power to force a seismic change in the football tide; and Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad tonight is one such game.
Between defeat at Chelsea in their first away game under Emery and mid-December, Arsenal took 14 of a possible 18 points on the road, but face trips to Brighton and Liverpool having been haunted by the ghost of seasons past against Southampton at St Mary’s.