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1st May 2023

“A season like no other” – Four things that made the 2022-23 football season great

The 2022/23 English football season has been one of the greatest in living memory, with great narratives from all tiers of the football pyramid.
“A season like no other” – Four things that made the 2022-23 football season great
Photo: Martí Pardo @ Pexels

Over the years, the English football pyramid, and the five professional leagues that it consists of, have been known to produce a simply unparalleled amount of footballing drama. From Sergio Aguero scoring in the 94th minute to win Manchester City their first Premier League title in a generation in 2012, to Carlisle United’s reserve goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scoring the crucial goal to keep his team in the Fourth Tier on the final day of the season in 1999, the spectacle of English football has had audiences hooked for generations.

However, rarely have lovers of the beautiful game been treated to a spectacle quite as enthralling as the 2022-23 footballing season, of which we are now reaching the final stages. In a season mired by disruption due to the first-ever winter edition of the World Cup. Football has shown why it really is the greatest game on the planet. Here are the four things that made this season truly special.

The title races

In football, there is surely no spectacle quite as exciting as a title race. Watching two sides battling it out to be crowned champions week-in-week-out, even going down to the final day. And when it comes to title races, the 2022-23 season has not at all disappointed.

In the Premier League, we have seen the generational super-team of Manchester City, which has won four out of the last five Premier League titles, and has a team of world beaters led by legendary manager Pep Guardiola, face a challenge from a youthful and exciting Arsenal side, who have made a surprise dash for the title. While at one point Arsenal looked to be running away with the trophy, a recent dip in form has allowed the relentless City to re-assert their dominance, with Arsenal (at the time of writing), sitting five points ahead of City having played two more games.

Yet the race to the Premier League title has not been the only mouth-watering contest for silverware this season. Down in the National League, the fifth tier of English football, Wrexham and Notts County have engaged in a ding-dong battle for the top spot. Both sides have broken the league’s previous all-time points and goals scored record, and have been engaged in an unrelenting game of ‘who blinks first’ over the past eight months. However, thanks to their 3-2 victory over Notts County over the Easter Weekend, and a sublime injury-time penalty save by goalkeeper Ben Foster, Wrexham recently confirmed their title win and promotion.

The fairytale stories

Moreover, alongside the breathtaking excitement of its various title races, the 2022-23 season has provided us viewers with a number of fairytale stories of joy and resurrection, which serve to remind us all of what it truly means to be a fan of the beautiful game.

Leyton Orient looked to be on the brink of complete implosion a mere five years ago in 2018. They were lurking at the bottom of the National League and being financially mismanaged by their owner Francesco Beccheti.  They recently secured promotion back to League One, a level at which the club has not played since 2018. A welcome reward for the loyal fans of the club who just a few years ago were forced to suffer through the near collapse of their beloved Orient.

Meanwhile, Grimsby Town fans, who see their side currently sitting eleventh in League Two, got to experience the dream of all fans of lower league clubs in the early months of 2023. Their club went on an incredible run to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup. On the way, they beat higher-league opposition including Cambridge United, Luton Town and Premier League Southampton along the way, before bowing out gracefully against Brighton in the Quarter-Finals. A proper cup run story.

The fallen giants

The 2022-23 English football league season has also undoubtedly been the year of the fallen giants, as we have seen a number of clubs, who are usually powerhouses in their respective divisions,  plunged into precarious positions on the pitch. Now, while this is certainly not a plus for any of the fans of these fallen giants, their sides collapsing into chaos has almost certainly added to this season’s drama.

Chelsea, the two-time Champions League winners and five-time Premier League winners, have witnessed an utter collapse in results on the pitch over the course of this year. The club which last year made an early challenge for the league title and eventually finished third in the Premier League, currently sits eleventh in the league, and are on their third manager of the season. All despite new enigmatic American billionaire owner Todd Boehly having spent over £600 million in the January transfer window. A true collapse for one of English football’s biggest clubs.

Just up the Earls Court Road from Chelsea at Queens Park Rangers, a club that has vast amounts of Premier League experience, and consistently challenges for promotion from the Championship up to the top tier, is currently hanging on and fighting for dear life trying to avoid relegation to League One. After a bizarre turn of events in the past few months including an abhorrent run of form, a 6-1 defeat to Blackpool, and manager Gareth Ainsworth enlisting a team of dancers to perform the ‘Haka’ for the players.

Furthermore, down in the National League, an extended collapse on the pitch has led to catastrophe for two stalwarts of the English footballing pyramid. Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town, both of whom have in the past fifteen years competed as high as the Championship, have recently had their relegation from the National League confirmed. As of next year, they will be banished to regional football. A sad, yet all the while engaging story.

The World Cup

The one element of the 2022-23 season that has truly made it a season like no other, was the unprecedented break in the months of November and December, which was put in place in order to accommodate the first-ever winter edition of the FIFA World Cup, which took place in the desert nation of Qatar.

While initially there was much objection to plans for a mid-season break, if anything it has added to the drama and gripping nature of the footballing action. 

The fixture congestion that has been created by the World Cup break has led to this season having a truly breathless nature. This season has been a longer season in time covered than any other season in recent memory, with matches in the second to the fifth tier of English football beginning all the way back on the last weekend of July 2022, and the Champions League Final – a common marker for the end of the season – not taking place until the June 10th 2023. Moreover, the extreme regularity of this season’s fixtures has meant a constant fix of footballing action for all lovers of the beautiful game, all serving to make this year’s football action truly enthralling.

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