And so it begins (again)

If a week is a long time in politics, then 12 weeks is an eternity in the life of a football fan, particularly in an odd-numbered year where there is no World Cup or European Championships to see you through the summer.

Of course, it hasn’t been a total vacuum. In the 12 weeks which have elapsed since the final weekend of the 2008/9 Premier League season, football has maintained a major presence on our TV screens: the FA Cup Final, the Champions League final, the Football League promotion playoffs, preseason matches and tournaments, qualifying rounds for the Champions League and Europa League (this year’s laughable attempt to rebrand the UEFA Cup), not to mention the opening weekend of England’s three lower divisions. And of course there has been transfer activity aplenty – much of it centring on the cities of Madrid and Manchester – and more rumours than even the most ardent of fans can possibly follow.

An outside observer might be forgiven for not realising that, actually, no meaningful competitive football was being played for most of the last three months. Given the level of media saturation football enjoys throughout the year, it’s hard to tell the difference.

But, for a fan of one of the Premier League’s 20 teams, it’s not the real thing. That kicks off tomorrow afternoon. By 6pm on Sunday, the first round of matches will be complete and fans and pundits alike will be ruminating over what each team’s first 90 minutes tells us about their prospects for the rest of the season.

To which the answer is: pretty much bugger all. Not that it will stop anyone speculating wildly, of course.

But that’s the beauty of the game. For the next nine months, millions of people will watch consumed with passion, utterly transfixed as they are swept along by the Premier League’s complex, ever-changing narrative. The media will fall over themselves to bring us every moment from every possible angle in ever-increasing detail. And fans of all clubs from all walks of life will discuss it endlessly at the water-cooler, in pubs and via online forums.

Me? I’ve entered my fantasy football team. (As usual, I’ve allowed my heart to rule my head by including as many Arsenal players as possible.) I’ve decided which replica shirt I’d like for this season. (The new away strip with “23 Arshavin” on the back.) And I’m busy scouring the internet for the latest team news ahead of tomorrow’s game at Everton. (At which point I’ll be cursing the fact that it’s being televised on ESPN’s new subscription channel, which I refuse to sign up to.)

The waiting is over. The blood is rising. Excitement and optimism for the new season are building to a cacophonous crescendo. (And will no doubt be totally squashed within weeks.)

Here we go. Again.


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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