As we get ever closer to the next football season I thought it would be worth having a look at the hopes, fears and expectations that I have about what lies ahead. Can we expect the best or the worst? Will we be dancing in the streets or crying into our beer?
Firstly, I hope that Watford are promoted to the Premier League, Wilton Town get promotion in the Wiltshire League (I coach them!) and the Premiership is a feast of flowing, attacking football. I hope that at least six clubs are in the title race and that once again an English team wins the Champions League. (It would be nice if the rest of Europe could provide some decent opposition this year! :))
I hope England are unstoppable in the World Cup qualifiers and play a brand of football that has the rest of the world gasping in admiration.
I hope that Mourinho and Ronaldinho are a success in Italy. It would be great to see Mourinho back to his arrogant best and the joy of watching Ronaldinho at his best has been sadly missing for too long.
I hope that referees get a higher percentage of the big decisions right and I hope that they get the respect they should from players and managers.
I hope that the level of crowd violence doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t increase and that sensible football supporters can band together to rid the game of the idiotic few who try to destroy it.
I fear that the level of crowd violence around the world in on the increase. I am very worried that this is on a downward spiral. I also fear that we will see more sinister tackles and general nastiness on the field of play.
I fear that my beloved Watford will start the season playing some decent football, lose a couple of games, immediately resort to the same style of hoof ball we all hate so much and undertake a season long relegation struggle.
I fear that England will produce their traditional and customary brand of boring, ineffective and deeply disappointing rubbish.
I fear that the lack of respect shown to referees will grow into a major epidemic in our game. It has the potential to drive people away.
I suppose my biggest fear is that all the negative things could outweigh the positive ones and football could start to lose its popularity. It is such a great game and it is rightly the number one sport nearly all the way around the world (you know who you are America!) It would be dreadful if those people with the responsibility to take the game forward, Blatter, Platini, Scudamore etc, made such a hash of it that it all started to unravel.
My actual expectations for the coming season are a mixture of optimism and pessimism. In relation to Watford I have to say that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m pessimistic. That is unusual for me as I am normally the opposite when it comes to the Hornets. For this season, in the words of the song, I see trouble ahead.
The Premier League will produce great football, exciting matches and entertainment all the way. Sadly, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see anyone breaking into the top four just yet. I hope they do, but I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite see it.
England will most certainly not play great football. We will not be admired and feared around the world and we wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be unstoppable. I just hope that we can stumble and bumble our way through the games and manage to pick up enough points to keep our qualification hopes alive.
Jose Mourinho will be a great success with Inter. Ronaldinho will show occasional flashes of brilliance for Milan but we will all see that he is no longer the player he used to be.
I expect that the referees in England will get even more big decisions wrong and will play up to the cameras in the same way they have done in the last couple of years. How do other countries produce referees that do their job so well? Can we have some of the Euro 2008 refs in the Premier League, please?
I do expect levels of crowd violence to rise and that is potentially a major risk to the game. I went through the seventies when stadiums in England were half empty and half of the people at the games wanted a fight. It was not a place that we can possibly allow the beautiful game to get sucked back in to.
Overall, I think it will be a great season. Whatever else happens, I reckon Wilton Town will get promoted!
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