One of the staples of modern tabloid reporting on football fandom is that we can't handle the summer months when their isn't a World Cup or European Championships on. We crave football 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We like nothing better than to pore over the latest transfer rumours, to see what superstar south American is going to liven up our midfield, and be the final piece in the fight for the title/Champions League place/Budget Euro League place/against relegation. Or if you're Aston Villa, consolidating ninth. We, we are told, are footy fanatics, and if you don't follow every pointless piece of tabloid transfer gossip, regurgitated and perpetuated as fact by the likes of Goal.com, then you're a part-timer, a plastic. You're not a real fan. Well let me tell you something, when the end of last season came, I didn't feel any emptiness. I wasn't counting down the days until the first pre-season friendly, which I could watch live and direct on Chelsea TV, by the way. Quite the opposite, in fact; when the end of last season came, I was relieved. I was burned out. I'd had enough of sodding football, and I wanted a summer (which given that I now live in Italy includes August) free of it. I watched the cricket; I dealt with the loss of a much-loved uncle – a true and long-standing Chelsea fanatic – and other family trauma; I went to the USA for three weeks; I went to a friend's lakeside retreat and ponced it up, Euro style; I went to the beach; and when the Scottish season started at the end of July, I took it as a personal insult: it was simply offensive to stage league football at that time of the year – won't they let us breathe a while? When my girlfriend called me from a Roma pre-season friendly in the mountainous Alto-Adige region, surrounded by bawling ultras, I felt like the stereotypical football widow; I just didn't care. And I certainly didn't pay any attention to the summer ins and outs. So really, I'm probably not the right person to be writing this preview, but f*** it, they asked me, and who am I go back on a promise?
So, Andres Villas-Boas eh? He's three years older than I am and earning more money in a month than I could hope to earn in five years. He's probably got a smoking hot missus, and if he ever gets caught cheating on her she'll stand by her man, and make sure he's not led into temptation again. It won't matter a jot if he makes a complete Scolari's ear of the job, because the club will bin him off and send him on his way with millions of pounds in his pocket. Some life eh? I note that people have been comparing him to Mourinho, because he's Portuguese and was successful with Porto, but he's not really been getting out there with the inflammatory statements has he? Mourinho comes in jacks the Panto Villain Factor (PVF) up to 11, telling everyone that he's the bollocks, making up outrageous lies about people, abusing referees and hiding in bins, and what does our new boy do? Make Guardian hacks go giddy with delight at just how middle-class he is. I was hoping for a bit more pizazz, myself.
I've heard this Didier Drogba chap is quite handy, a big bustling centre forward who knows where the goal is
However, the transfer window is still open, so I urge the club to sign Joey Barton as the earliest juncture. Not only is he a violent lunatic hated by everyone (and therefore giving the PVF a healthy boot up the backside), he embodies the best bits of Pat Nevin and Joey Jones: cross him on the field and he'll bludgeon you to a pulp with the collected works of Albert Camus. He could also give Yossi Benayoun a run for his money in the 'Best Bumfluff' competition.
We've also signed some players, I've heard. I think they'll be good, and bring all sorts of brilliant stuff to whichever positions it is they play. I'm also completely convinced that whoever it is we've got rid of was clearly not the right player for us, and we got a great fee for them to boot. As for key players: well I've heard this Didier Drogba chap is quite handy, a big bustling centre forward who knows where the goal is; young up-and-coming midfield dynamo Frank Lampard will weigh in with a few himself; and the defence will no doubt be shored up by non-nonsense centre-half John Terry. With those three and Petr Cech (who's also Czech! LOL) in between the sticks we're sure to have some sort of season, and I confidently predict that we will win some games, draw some games, and lose a couple too. That's been the trend over the last few years at least, and I see no reason why that should change now.
We've got Stoke City away at the weekend, a game to get the pulses racing and no mistake. It's the sort of contest that would have Soccer Saturday pundits repeatedly lobbing the platitude 'with all due respect' in the Potters direction, an appropriate phrase given that it implies no respect being given at all. And why give any respect? Stoke is a grey, boring hole full of stout-drinking racists, and I can say that with authority as I've never been there. In fact the closest I've ever even been to a City fan is looking at them in the away end from the safety of the Matthew Harding Stand, laughing at how many of them wear caps and replica kits. Will we win – who knows? The Premier League being as crazy and unpredictable as it is there's simply no way of telling. We'll probably finish second, though.
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