By TomTom – Your SatNav around Football
The opening day of the football season 2012 is one of great excitement. This year was slightly different. Olympic fever meant that the build up to the campaign slipped uncharacteristically under the radar. However, over the past weekend, the emotions which have been hidden away since Allesandro Diamanti struck the winning penalty to send England crashing out of Euro 2012, slowly came out of hibernation.
Optimism, hope and excitement characterise the start to a new football season. The league table paints a picture of equality with teams ranked according to their alphabetical order as opposed to footballing ability. Anything can happen. Fans turn up in their droves, the name of the latest arrival imprinted across their freshly purchased replica shirts, quickening the pace of their stride as the stadium draws ever closer. Maybe just maybe this could be our year.
The pitches are in perfect condition, stadiums basking in sunshine with freshly painted seats. The players themselves appear from the tunnel, Marbella tanned legs ready for the slog ahead.
New managers and players are awarded standing ovations, fans’ favourites welcomed back and the chants that were sung with diminished enthusiasm at the end of the previous campaign are bellowed with fresh gusto.
And then the football starts. One defensive error, one missed sitter from the new striker who’s finishing looked so good on YouTube, one goalkeeping howler and it’s all over. Reality returns, optimism turns to frustration and we are reminded of what it really is to be a football fan. The chants turn to groans, Mexican waves replaced by Mexican tuts and the grounds which are packed to the rafters at quarter to 3 begin to empty out at half past 4.
I wonder how many QPR season tickets were torn up at Loftus Road on Saturday, thrown in the face of a humiliated Mark Hughes. On the flip side, it was a dream start for new Swansea boss Michael Laudrup, who can’t possibly have imagined his side would win so comfortably against a QPR team who appeared to have made some shrewd signings over the summer.
An interesting aside to this Premiership season’s new dawn was the amount of managers picking their respective teams for the first time over the weekend. The managerial roundabout was in full swing over the summer, almost overshadowing the transfers of the players themselves. AVB, Laudrup, Hughton, Lambert, Rodgers and Clarke all found themselves at the helm of a different Premiership club and will have come away with significantly mixed emotions.
Steve Clarke will have taken great satisfaction in comprehensively swatting away the challenge of the club he had his contract terminated from at the end of last season. In contrast, Rodgers’ eagerly anticipated first competitive game in charge was a day he will want to erase from his memory, existing as a reminder of the size of the task ahead at Anfield. The fact that the talented Swansea side he created fared so well without him, will have only served to rub salt in to what must already have been considerable wounds.
Another debut managerial loser was Chris Hughton, a man who has got big East Anglian boots to fill if he is to successfully replace Aston Villa’s new boss Paul Lambert. Conversely, both were on the receiving end of disappointing away defeats, however, the nature of the Canaries’ capitulation at Fulham will be a hard pill to swallow. Whether or not Lambert has hauled himself up the food chain by swapping Carrow Road for Villa Park remains to be seen. With a lack of high profile arrivals and Randy Lerner’s purse strings remaining tight, Lambert’s new role may just make his previous challenges at Norwich and Colchester seem like a walk in the park.
A park which is far from an easy stroll these days is St James’. AVB’s striking issues were prominent as Spurs showed a worrying lack of cutting edge whilst Pardew can lay claim to building an increasingly impressive Newcastle side and simultaneously existing as half of the most dislikeable manager/chairman combination in Premiership history.
So with the opening day league table of equality long forgotten, and a flurry of midweek transfer activity, the second round of Premiership fixtures are a mouth-watering prospect.
What was that big sporting event that occurred in East London this summer again?
“Having studied English at university and always been a keen footballer and fan, combining the two has always appealed to me.” - Tom Lytton-Dickie. -"I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket." Tom Allnutt
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