CLARENDON, Jamaica — Perhaps it's too early to take the points standing seriously, but don't tell that to the Humble Lion fans. They are riding high at the top of the Red Stripe Premier League and savouring every moment.
And, really, who can blame them if they decide to start a party 29 games early?
Four games into the season, the central Clarendon side are the best team in the country's top football competition.
They not only have a two-point lead at the top of the table, with nine points, they also boast the division's best goalscoring and defensive records — scoring five goals and conceding one against Waterhouse in what is so far their only defeat.
But, while the supporters are entitled to revel, there's no such thing going on among the players. Simply put, coach Geoffrey Maxwell will not allow it.
He's been there and done it, and knows quite well that the title is neither won nor lost after four games, especially with a new semi-final format to this season's competition.
Don't get it twisted, however. Maxwell's eyes are fixed on the title because that remains his ultimate goal. But his short-term plan is to ensure Humble Lion get into the top-four at the end of the third-round, and then take things from there.
That's why, even when his team are in a comfortable winning position, he continues to demand 100 per cent from the players.
To some, his frank post-game analysis, even after a victory, is taking perfection a bit too far. But Maxwell, who has coached more premiership teams than any of his current counterparts, knows it's never over until it's over. He knows the slightest mistake in defence can easily turn three points into one, or none.
That's why he lambasts his strikers whenever they miss easy chances. That's why he not only threatens to substitute a player, but also follows through with the act, whenever they fail to carry out his instructions — even if the game is only 20 minutes old or the player has just entered the field as a sub.
There will be many speculations as to why Humble Lion, who are traditionally slow starters, have begun the season so well. But, truthfully, nobody really knows why.
It's certainly not because they went shopping in the off-season for the league's best players. That's something that they no longer do — by choice or force. In fact, this season, Humble Lion have lost more players than they acquired, which might well be working in Maxwell's favour, because he retained his most important players from last season.
With a relatively smaller squad and a first pre-season with the club, he knew exactly what he was working with from the beginning. It also gave him a chance to get the players more accustomed to his "favoured" 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation.
"Our pre-season has been pretty good. I can't complain," said Maxwell earlier in the season. "The players are in a fairly good condition, as you can see. Our first aim is to try and ensure that we meet the criteria to be in the top four at the end of the third round."
But with this Humble Lion team, who tend to be more efficient than explosive in their play, history shows that there will be off days. Some will come in the form of a 1-0 home defeat to Waterhouse, while others might even be as bad as the 4-0 drubbing at Arnett Gardens in the Flow Champions Cup.
Maxwell will be hoping that the latter, which he labelled "embarrassing", was a lesson rather than a performance to be replicated.
— Oshane Tobias