By Graham Matthews
The World Cup is done stealing all of the football limelight, which means that fans can revert back to focusing on every in and out that’s going on at their club.
Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez, Lazar Markovic and er, Dionatan Teixeira to name but a few will all be making their Premier League debuts next season after catching the eye of their new clubs.
As the greatest league in the world, the Premier League is also thought of as the toughest. So in order to avoid becoming the next Djemba-Djemba, here are seven things every player making their Premier League debut in 2014/15 needs to know.
5. Don’t treat every game the same
Obviously footballers, like accountants and every other professional out there, should give their all in every game and challenge they encounter. However, there are some matches in England where players really should give 110%, namely local derbies and cup matches.
Most English football fans know about Spain’s El Clasico and Italy’s Derby della Madonnina, but how many Italian fans and players are aware of the Tyne-Wear rivalry for example?
Score a hat-trick for one against the other and it’s a fast track to becoming a club legend. Likewise, scoring an own goal or making a major mistake will have even more severe repercussions than in any other league match.
New players need to be aware of the importance such games hold, so reading up on club history is vital.
4. No team is unbeatable
Arsenal went unbeaten in 2003/4, but since then no team has come close to matching that spectacular season in the Premier League.
In Spain it’s pretty much a given that Barcelona and both Madrid teams will hardly drop any points against teams in the bottom 15, while in Germany, France and Italy it’s a similar situation.
As Manchester United proved last season, by losing to West Brom, Newcastle and a few others for the first time in decades, in England no team is ever guaranteed to win.
Stoke have frustrated Arsenal numerous times and Aston Villa always prove tricky for Chelsea, each club has its bogey team. It’s what makes the league so exciting and keeps the bookies thriving.
3. Show some character
There’s nothing that gets the fans more interested and behind a player than if he shows some personality in post-match interviews or harmless antics off the field, especially given the English media’s constant coverage of a player’s life.
David Luiz may not have been a consistent performer at Chelsea, but his presence on social media made him a cult hero with some Blues fans. Likewise, Jonás Gutiérrez was/is far from spectacular at Newcastle United, but his early Spiderman mask celebration endeared him to the fans at the start.
English fans are often willing to defend players more if they can see a human side to them, so if a new signing can show a bit of personality, then it’s more likely they’ll make it as a fan favourite.
2. Toughen up
It has become a bit of a cliché to promote the stereotype of the English game being rougher than other countries, but stereotypes aren’t built on nothing.
While Premier League matches aren’t the battlefield some media outlets make out, there’s definitely more of a physical presence in games than abroad.
Most new players who are less used to the Premier League’s physical approach will soon adapt, but there are always those susceptible to injury who just can’t come to grips with it.
Rather than annoying fans by being the club’s record signing who spent half the season on the physio’s bench before returning to Spain in the summer, man up and throw yourself about a bit.
1. Stoke away isn’t so scary
Another popular cliché to be churned out when talking about foreign players in England – “That Messi bloke’s alright, but get him playing against Stoke on a rainy Wednesday evening and we’ll see how good he really is.”
Not only does this do a disservice to Stoke (it doesn’t always rain on Wednesdays there), but it’s also not the hardest test a Premier League player will have to face.
There will be far more intimidating games for Alexis Sanchez to take part in, namely the north London derby and there’s no reason that he can’t use his pace and skill to the same effect in both games.
Of course, any newcomers playing for Stoke will want to help keep the illusion of the Britannia Stadium turning into a fortress every time it rains alive.
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