I’ve really missed this, the beautiful game. I tried to occupy myself with all the fruits of the footballing summer; the English success in the U20 World Cup offered hope before the Confederations Cup brought me down to Earth – Portugal really do have their own mesmerising way of playing awful football. I then found myself feeling guilty during the Lionesses’ campaign at the Women’s Euro 2017: would I really prefer to watch Burnley hold West Brom to a scoreless draw? I think I would.
No disrespect to the various summer competitions (except the Star Sixes – people who used to play football – who now can’t play football – playing football, is a concept I will never understand), but there’s nothing quite like a new season of English football. Will that bloke who was scoring ten goals from midfield in the Swedish 1st division transition seamlessly into the Championship? When did Rúben Neves decide that Wolverhampton offered riches above and beyond Champions League football? Will we ever get used to seeing David Silva without any hair? Complex questions with complex answers that will only become clear as the season progresses.
The Premier League brings with it a powerful weapon capable of inducing crippling doubt and unrivalled self-loathing, but the potential for gloating rights proves too tempting for many, myself included. Fantasy Football managers are easy to spot; just keep your ears open for anyone asking, “who got the assist?” This season, with a volatile transfer window in which Guardiola’s current £160m defence budget stands greater than that of the nation of Senegal, the selection headaches are worse than ever.
One positive to come from the record-breaking window is that with Neymar now officially worth £200m, the market inflation surely means Ross McCormack is almost worth the £12m both Fulham and Aston Villa paid for him. Almost.
One thing is for sure: this weekend the Premier League will return, and with it will come all the little gems I’ve been missing over the last few months; David Pleat’s undying attempts to pronounce foreign players in the most English of English accents, Alexis Sanchez’ all too obvious frustration at his inferior Arsenal teammates becoming all the less subdued, and Vincent Janssen’s quest to step out of the shadow of the great Soldado and score more than three goals from open play.