Actually, when I come to think about it, not the best time to start a football blog. Enthusiasm got the better of me. Didn’t think it through. Just had to write it all down, that stuff whirling around inside my head….
Not that there is a close season these days, at least not one worthy of the name. I’m still raking over the embers of the season just gone when next week the players begin pre-season training.
It’s customary at this time of year to intone wisely that all teams need a good pre-season. Quite what this means I’m not sure. The squad need to get fit and judging from the photos of Huddlestone in the press last week, some have more work to do than others. On the other hand, the players must not overtrain because “it’s a long season and we don’t want to peak too early.” That’s not a real quote but I guarantee someone in the club will say so before too long, sooner rather than later if they start to lose a couple of friendlies.
Pre-season is also for team bonding -cue photos of the lads pushing each other into the pool at a ludicrously expensive foreign training camp. What’s wrong with Chigwell? Oh… But the fact is, they probably all hate each other because the other guy’s on more money or is going to get the nod for the first team.
Then there is the competitive element. This year we have several high profile games, including not one but two televised tournaments, Because they have made up names, the fans will become highly excited about them. Ah, the traditions of the Wembley Cup, dating back, oh, days. No summer break for the shouty Sky announcer.
Last season we had a superb pre-season, winning most of our games in great style. Even after 40 years of watching Spurs I was fooled, resorting to muddy internet streams to see the Ramos masterplan emerging away to Norwich in July. I knew it wasn’t the finished article, but ahead lay the intoxicating promise of pacy pass and move attack with plenty of goals. Just like Seville, who had the chutzpah to emerge from the also-rans and challenge the elite.
Back to reality. A good pre-season means diddly squat once the real thing begins. The Premier League is hard, bleak and cold for the underprepared, even in high summer. Pre-season does not foster the hard mental attitude that marks the distinction between winners and losers.
If slogging out laps in the wind and rain at Chigwell focuses the attention wonderfully, then that’s where the squad should be. And it will reduce the danger of skin cancer. It’s in your best interests, lads.