I think I am looking forward to the coming football season more than I have ever done before. The excitement of last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s climax around Europe and the excellence of the European Championships have truly wetted the appetite. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait for the next four or five weeks to pass and the season to get going.
I have absolutely no doubt that the football world will be surrounded by controversy at every step. There will be dreadful refereeing decisions, the corruption scandals and investigations will gather pace, there will be bad fouls, terrible displays of a lack of respect for the referees and sadly, some bad injuries.
Managers will be sacked, some fairly and some unfairly. Players will be holding clubs to ransom and players, coaches, managers, directors and owners will be starring in sleazy tabloid stories of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Of course, as well as all that we will see the beautiful game played with grace, skill, pace, precision and passion. We will see great goals, impossible saves, wonderful passes, dangerous crosses and mesmerizing dribbling. We will see fast flowing one touch attacking moves and disciplined effortless defending. (To be fair, I might not see too much of all that because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be watching the team I coach, Wilton Town, in the Wiltshire league and the love of my football life, Watford!)
I know that some people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand the love of football. Ã¢â‚¬ËœYou must be mad,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ they say, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgetting excited about twenty-two men chasing a ball.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
For me and millions like me it is those people who are mad. Football has given me so much joy, excitement and, of course, pain, over the years. A few miserable footballless weeks in the summer make me realize just how much I would miss it if it were to disappear.
Now, with most teams back in pre-season training and many fixtures already announced I can feel the excitement building again. Will Watford mount another promotion push or will they struggle? Will Manchester United hold off the challenge of ScolariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new Chelsea? Will Barcelona under Pep Guardiola close the gap on Real Madrid? Will Jose Mourinho work his magic at Inter? Will Wilton Town be cleverly coached and managed towards promotion to the Wiltshire League Division One? So many people are desperate to know the answer to these questions and more.
One of the things we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know is what clubs some of the top players will be at. For supporters of those individual clubs these matters are crucial. Manchester United would not be the same side without Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid may be able to mount a serious European challenge if they manage to get him. For the neutral, in this day of 24/7 football from around the world, we will be able to watch the Portuguese wingerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sublime skills wherever he ends up.
As we tick off the days until the start of the season we are all thinking about the prospects for the club we support. We check in at Soccer News and other sites and newspapers every day to see whether we have made the big signing that we all crave and 99% of us are disappointed to see that if we have signed anyone it is a thirty-seven year old free transfer.
All common sense and reason disappears from our thinking at this time of year and we manage to convince ourselves that this season could be the one. Last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relegation, struggle, mid-table finish, play-off defeat, etc, was just a blip. This season, despite selling our best players and not replacing them, we will almost certainly run away with the league. Of course, for a vast majority of us that notion will be firmly dispelled after about twenty minutes of the first game!
Many people talk about Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe old daysÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and how Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfootball isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the same anymore.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ They are absolutely right. I have been watching football since the late sixties and the game we see today bears almost no resemblance to the one I watched all those years ago. It is quicker, more skillful, more powerful, more comfortable to watch, more exhilarating and bigger and better in almost every way imaginable. The product that we watch today is so vastly improved and so exciting that I fail to see how anyone could fail to be taken in by it.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m glad IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got that off my chest, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s made me feel that the season is even closer. The game we love is a great game indeed and I just canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait until we all get going again.
Come on Watford! Come on Wilton Town!
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