PRE-SEASON is a funny old time.
Eight weeks of long, lethargic build-up to the main event can become a tedious grind – like two hours of Adrian Chiles before the World Cup final, you know it’s become a part of modern football but you’d rather fast forward to the good stuff.
The major problem about this period between late June and early August is exaggerated expectations.
Your team could hold Chelsea’s reserves to a 2-2 draw thanks to a late own goal and all of a sudden you find yourself cantering down the bookies with the kids’ Christmas fund to back a huge title charge at 55/1. The Guatemalan trialist scores a belter from 40 yards, you decide he’s the new Pele and shell out £74.50 to have his 23-character name on the back of your new replica shirt.
Perspective doesn’t generally come into the equation. For some reason, results are misconstrued as having some identifiable meaning when, in reality, the manager and players are more concerned with fitness, shapework and durability. A 5-0 win could be much less beneficial to the team than a tight, 0-0 draw.
Equally, if a team is perceived as doing “badly” in pre-season then the vibe around a club can feel more melancholy than an Eeyore convention.
One defeat to a non-league side cues the start of a footballing apocalypse, as does a run of 10 days or more without a new signing, the failure to retain the bloke from Kenya who looked half-decent for 15 minutes at Supermarine or the new away strip featuring any kind of yellow tint.
Without the presence of regular competitive football, fans become far too emotionally tied to even the most mundane news stories of the day.
We’ve had nothing to offload about all summer, so why not have a good old rant about the new sponsor of the bottom of Darren Ward’s right boot.
We all do it, it’s natural to us, but it’s quite bizarre. August 9 needs to come around sharpish so we can negotiate the peaks and troughs of delirium, derision and despair with good reason and, when we walk back through the front door in a proper huff and our partners ask us what’s wrong, we won’t grunt back “they’ve changed pie supplier in the Arkell’s”.