Tuesday 26th June 2018
Looking back to when the final whistle blew at Huddersfield back in May or even at the legends game out in Madrid earlier this month, we all could very easily come to the conclusion there is very little to talk about before it all starts again in August.
Well, where do you want me to start?!
Away from the game for me personally it has been the usual story. Sunshine, cricket, gigs, festivals…..they’ve all been given the ‘treatment’. And the awesome Isle of Wight version of the latter links us nicely to the World Cup.
Watching football on the telly when I’ve got an interest in who wins due to an allegiance is extremely rare. And i’ve enjoyed that novelty factor more than anything else.
Of course I completely understand and can relate totally to the fact it is extremely difficult to cheer and encourage someone who I wouldn’t give the time of day to during the season but I am English. And on that basis I want my country to win it. And watching the Panama game in a sundrenched festival was quite something.
VAR is the big talking point of course. The fact it means off side decisions should always be correct is a massive plus for me. But the fact there are still clear penalties not being awarded and spot kicks being given when no offence has been committed suggests the system doesn’t remove the problems that were already there before it was introduced.
Events surrounding our own mighty football club are incredibly numerous considering we are ‘off season’. Comings and goings are always regular at this time and that will continue for some time yet. The biggest news of all is we welcome Unai Emery as our new leader. Time will tell as to how successful he will be of course but the way he has already stamped his authority is more than a good thing for me. Good luck Unai and welcome to the greatest football club in the world.
The fixtures are out. Or the rough guideline is anyway. TV will dictate the accurate version early next month. Whenever they are played we certainly face a tough start.
For me however, the most historical announcement is our club’s decision to take part in the Checkatrade Trophy. It might be an u21 side taking part but they will be considered ‘first class’ fixtures so it makes it a decision of considerable interest.
The competition is regionalised meaning we could be travelling to 3 very local teams during the group stages. But looking at last season, how Chelsea was considered to be ‘local’ to Yeovil, Plymouth and Exeter is beyond me! Or Southampton to Cambridge, Northampton and Peterborough for that matter!
Pre-season sees as head to Borehamwood for Unai’s first game before 2 games in Singapore and a couple of tasty looking trips to Dublin and Stockholm complete the line up. Very nice in my book and all before a ‘ball is kicked’ in the 2018/19 season.
Our forthcoming Eurooean tour will hopefully throw up some interesting and different destinations and we have as much chance of that happening than not. With the draw for the group stages not being until the end of August however, much will have already happened before that comes around.
But spare a thought for some of our potential (if highly unlikely) opponents. 14 clubs start their European adventure this coming Thursday in the 1st leg of the competition’s preliminary round!
Anyone fancy a trip to UE Engordany or Kl Klaksvik??
Monday 4th June 2018
So, is this classed as the final game of last season or the first of next? Surely with a 6 week break to Borehamwood away it must be the former. But we wore our new home kit for the first time. That throws a bit of a spanner in the works!
All this admittedly sounds mighty irrelevant but believe me it was discussed, at length, by those who decided to join 70 odd thousand others on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bernabeu Stadium. It’s what many of us do you see. Discussing matters like this and thinking long and hard about other facts, statistics and history in a quiz like fashion form good conversation and banter, be it whilst sat in a bar enjoying a few beers or trying to make the long journeys to away games go a bit quicker!
Going all the way to Madrid for a Legends game could be described as a bit mad. Stupid, pointless, irrelevant in fact. And I get that point of view. But cheap return flights, the promise of beautiful weather, an afternoon in one of the great sporting arenas and the magnificent sights, sounds, food and weekend nightlife served up by one of our continent’s very best cities proved too big a temptation to turn down when the match was announced a few months back. And please tell me which bit of that lot doesn’t sound attractive.
City wise, our host didn’t disappoint, the dozens of uber cool streets serving up exquisite tapas, fine beer and wine all making up a thoroughly relaxing few days. And meeting up with the usual travelling suspects added to that.
Outside the stadium come Sunday evening, the glorious weather, Real’s recent Champions League success and the prospect of the locals getting to witness some of their club’s past heroes in the flesh meant there was a proper party atmosphere and sense of occasion.
Last time we visited it was one of ‘those’ nights. Memorable beyond belief I can still see Thierry waltzing through the Real defence to slot home and clinch an historic victory. There were Gooners all over the stadium that night but the vast majority of us were in our usual allocated position in Spain of way up in the Gods (tier 5 in fact).
Sunday we didn’t need to do that of course so taking our position along the side next to the press box we really got to take a good look at the stadium on matchday.
If I’m honest, in the warm up and in the first 15 minutes or so I genuinely thought those representing the red and white could be on the end of a hammering. Not only did our hosts have almost twice as many players in their ‘squad’ as we did, the vast majority looked slim and fit enough to have retired the day before! Many of our lot (and I apologise now for my lack of respect) on the other hand looked……well…….like they were enjoying their retirement!
But d’you know what, in an entertaining encounter, they very much held their own and in the latter stages, arguably when fitness could have told (especially as Real brought on about 7 fresh pairs of legs!) they can count themselves a little unlucky not to have come away with a result from the game. Still, at least we got the away goal! 😉
A thoroughly enjoyable day in and equally enjoyable weekend and I think it’s finally time for a football break. At least as far as actually attending matches is concerned that is. What with the World Cup being on the telly and all that.
Enjoy the Summer Gooners.
Borehamwood is just 6 weeks away!