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What I won't miss about the Premier League

Honestly, the Premier League isn't all that. It really isn't - and here's why.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

When Sunderland were last promoted to the Premier League I was a wide-eyed college student thinking of all the possibilities that this beautiful world could offer me. A decade on, we return to what is now a seemingly foreign second tier with all these good teams with loads of money.

The doe-eyed teenager I once was has been replaced with a disillusioned late-20s cog in the rat race. Where we once had dreams now all we are left with is the grim reality that the real world isn't what it is all cracked up to be. Sunderland AFC have seemed to have followed a similar pattern.

A decade of flirting with relegation has ensured that all talk of "magic carpet rides" and endless piles of cash are now simply a good anecdote in the pub. But hey! It's not all doom and gloom and besides - the Premier League is a cesspit of greed, trolling and where the rich prosper and the poor are cast aside.

So, with that said, this is what I am not going to miss about the Best League In The World.


Fan TV channels

Imagine, if you can, going to a football match but instead of having a few beers with your pals, cheering on your side and getting engrossed in a top flight contest, you decide to film YOURSELF for the full ninety minutes. Once the game has finished, you then rush home to hastily edit it and post it on YouTube so 14-year-old racists from all over the globe can call you a paedophile behind the guise of an username like 'Hazardology' or something.

Arsenal v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

When you read it like this, it seems pretty preposterous but this is modern day Premier League. Self-entitled supporters trying to get their five minutes of fame by calling for the head of their club's most successful ever manager after a home draw against Southampton or having a long, long and VERY tedious rant about a club's net spend.

The fact that this is now a platform for people to become pseudo-celebrities is genuinely baffling. Just go to the pubs, lads.


Everything about Stoke City

Aside from my total love affair with Big Jonathan Walters, everything about Stoke City is the absolute pits.

When the Stoke-on-Trent tourist board is drawing up its unique qualities for its next pamphlet they can add the words "worst possible away day" right next to pottery and creating world class darts players.

Stoke City v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Quarter Final Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

I think the residents and authorities try their hardest to ensure you have a truly miserable day whenever you visit this part of Staffordshire.

As well as being one of the unfriendliest places in the UK, having a stadium on top of a hill and a dour manager to boot - they always seem to beat us in the dullest games possible. I am beyond delighted I don't have to go back there next season.


BT Sport

I can't work out what I hate more about BT Sport. I don't know whether it is the insufferable hey-I-used-to-play-football-and-we're-all-mates LADS LADS LADS BANTZ of Fletch & Sav, the general smarmy public schoolboy awfulness of Jake Humphrey, Owen Hargreaves saying fantastic superlatives every two seconds, the fact that their online stream is awful or that they clearly don't bother to research anyone outside of the top six.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The nadir of BT's coverage was when on the rare occasion Sunderland were screened, against Southampton, the panel were seemingly aching for the visitors to win. They looked subsequently gutted when we managed to claw back a two-goal deficit to draw.

Give me the hackneyed co-commentary of Don Goodman, the tight suits of Peter Beagrie and the welcoming embrace of Scott Minto any day.


Celebrity referees

I like me a bit of Mike Dean as much as the next man but there is only so much Hollywood refereeing a supporter can take.

Referees are seemingly looking to make the game more about them. Give a controversial decision here, miss a blatant handball there and you've got a narrative then for the Sunday morning newspapers. Whether it's Mark Clattenburg's flickering tongue and pretending he's everyone's mate, Neil Swarbrick applauding John Terry off the pitch or Kevin Friend being literally the worst man on earth - it seems more and more like they want to be the star of the show.

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Now, the Championship, there's a real league. It's a place where an indirect free-kick can be given for encroaching on a penalty and then the ref admitting he didn't know the rules. Now that's something I can get behind.


'Aiming for 17th'

It is somewhat refreshing going into a new season with a goal of lifting a trophy when May rolls around. Our main priority is to be better than the vast majority of the league rather than just doing enough to keep our heads above.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Premier League has its positives, of course, but we should be aspiring to be better than just about surviving. Success shouldn't be defined by scraping a points total that would average a point-per-game - and wouldn't it be nice to end a campaign with the number of wins in the double digits?

Doing enough just to get by isn't an option anymore. We need to be confident, arrogant, dogged, determined and clinical to leave challengers in our wake and taste success again.


Mercenaries 'settling' for Sunderland

Indulge me for a second while I go into full 'yer da' mode. Players should be honoured to play for Sunderland, they should feel privileged to play in front of 40,000+ supporters each week and they shouldn't see this great club as simply a payday.

Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

For years we've had mercenary after mercenary treat Sunderland with utter contempt. Many have come here and felt they are too good for us, look down at us as something they've had to 'settle for' and this is not exclusive to just players.

Be it a manager, player or kit man Sunderland should be seen as an opportunity. Get it right here and you will be a legend forever.