A belated moan about the start of the new football season, and some quiet optimism about Liverpool
Other sports provide us with lengthy off-seasons, for us to collect our thoughts, take a break, enjoy other sports, and gradually look forward to the start of the next season.
Football gives us no such luxury.
Just five weeks passed from the conclusion of the World Cup to the start of the domestic season. Those five weeks were full of pre-season friendlies and much idle transfer speculation.
Essentially, football never went away.
So, with no palate-cleanser of a reasonable off-season I have had mixed thoughts about throwing myself back into football, and writing about football.
Plus, the start of the football season is never particularly inspiring. This year is no exception. Players fatigued from a long 2009/10 season, and the World Cup, are not the best candidates to kick-start a season. Neither are players eyeing up a move before the transfer deadline at the end of the month. With so many players unfit or unsettled, and club sides still attempting to ‘gel’ players new and old, the start of the season is a messy time.
This isn’t real football to me. I’d much rather transfers took place prior to the season’s start, and that clubs had ample time to get their players fit and prepared. The current situation just distorts the early results, and means the season doesn’t really begin with the ‘bang’ that it warrants.
And there is also something quite odd about football in the summer. At least the British summer is doing its best to recreate proper autumnal football weather, I guess.
But I can resist no longer. The season is well and truly underway, whether I like it or not. So, what of it?
Well, my team Liverpool is in the midst of uncertainty on the pitch (as players look to leave, while others may come in), and off the pitch (as the club is up for sale). There is also a new manager, Roy Hodgson, who has set a suitably statesman-esque tone, and has been refreshingly free of excuses when it comes to explaining the team’s failures and weaknesses.
Hodgson has convinced Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stick with the club, which is no mean feat, and brought Joe Cole in – a fantastic player, yet something of an enigma. Hopefully Hodgson can bring the best out of them.
The season has not started well, with just one point from the first two games. However, I am still quietly optimistic that the season will be a good one. The first reason for this is my expectations have been suitably lowered. Liverpool, with their current precarious financial situation, cannot compete with the top Premier League sides.
Accepting this reality, there is still a squad with genuine world-class quality (Gerrard, Torres, Reina), potential world-class quality (Cole, Jovanovic, Agger) and some great prospects (Pacheco, Shelvey).
Marshalled by a meticulous organiser in Hodgson, Liverpool can and will improve from a shaky start. Their first two games were perhaps tougher fixtures than any other Premier League side faced. Three 6-0 drubbings in the Premier League this weekend are evidence that there are many poor sides competing this year.
Liverpool won’t win the league. That is an easy and obvious prediction. But I think they will make encouraging progress across the season.