Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlo Ancelotti's left eyebrow, a higher standard of punditry, the rise of Charlie Austin...it's been a year to be celebrated in proper fashion...
Football is full of dull yes men; we want the paranoid, the ragers, the ravers, the weird, the creative and the downright unpleasant. And we definitely want the Brendan...
As the new football season starts, I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that you can now get an internal penis pump fitted. It's a relief, isn't it? It's a small, bladder-like device that you press a little button to inflate when you need to perform red hot lovin'. The pump does what your blood used to do. Many years ago, early models had a small valve to which you attached a canister of compressed air. I mean, who amongst us does not love the sound of compressed air in the bedroom? What happens if you over-inflate yourself, which, let's face it, would be the temptation. Worse still, imagine if you picked up the can of lighter fluid instead. You could turn into a sexual Hindenburg. Oh, the humanity.
But it seems to me that's the state we're in at the start of every season - a state of artificial inflation. Before the season starts we sit watching all those clips reels, all the greatest hits, all the slow-motion ballet, all the screaming commentaries and moments of high drama and we think, bloody hell, I can't wait for the football to start. It's ace. We're totally pumped up for the new campaign, but it's an artificially induced excitement that reality can't match
When it kicks off, more often than not it's just nowhere near as good as you thought it was going to be. We're always glad to have football back, but often the few first games leave a slightly 'is that all there is?' feeling. This is partly because these early weeks always feel weird and almost dream-like because the games are often played in the unnaturally full, bright summer sun. Friends are on holiday, the transfer window is still open, new players are often unfamiliar and then there's an international game or two to break up the start of the league season.
We also get programmed for instant change, instant results, instant thrills and then reality goes and spoils it by serving up largely the same stuff as before. New managers and new players often don't obviously make a big difference from the first minute the way we imagine they will before a ball has been kicked. In fact, it all looks quite like it did last season. Boo.
The season never feels like it has properly got going until the leaves begin to turn and you need whiskey in your bloodstream in order to face the cold, so this is one of the strangest, most hysterical moments of any season. The urgent need to rush to judgement after one or two games is ludicrous and yet every season, great swathes of fans begin predicting success or failure on the basis of one 90-minute match despite all the historical evidence to show that the opening game isn't a reliably predictable indicator of the next 37. Perhaps modern media and massive TV coverage only encourages this as pundits cast the runes and try to pretend they know what any of it means. Listen to any phone-in and it's full of callers who say 'I think we'll struggle this season' or that other early cliché 'we'll be there or thereabouts'. It's an itch few can resist scratching, indeed, perhaps it is part of the entertainment for some. It all leads to this weird, artificial, febrile atmosphere.
I've already heard the excuse that some players didn't perform well because they are not match-fit yet. This always seems odd. There seems to be a very small window between being match-fit and needing to be rested as soon as the early rounds of the League Cup start because we play too much football.
Any football season is a mixture of good, bad and indifferent performances, the first few games are no different, but it is because we've existed on a diet of all killer, no filler since the end of the previous season it's easy to feel a bit cheated or cynical. Nothing is won or lost in August. No pattern can yet have been established, what the future holds remains thankfully unknown. So put that can of compressed air down and cool your engines.
As someone wisely said after yawning through the Arsenal game against Palace said, "The summer always makes me forget that most football is s**te interrupted by short moments of excitement. Football is exs**tement."
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