Monday, August 11, 2008

Like a grown man in a football pub

Somebody press the start button! Somewhere backstage, a hobbled old man is pulling a pair of oft-used gloves out of a trunk, slipping them on and beginning a bit of the ol’ limbering up. He’ll shuffle over, reach up and grab a hold of those tattered reigns that keep the big red curtain drawn and he’ll hoist. He’ll hoist for Stoke, he'll hoist for King Kev, he’ll hoist for Hull and Dean Windass, he’ll hoist for Martin O’ Neil’s pocketbook – so shockingly opened for a central defender from Rangers today, he’ll hoist for every Scouser trying to figure out how Rafa’s gonna line ‘em up this time, and he’ll hoist for an assortment of hopes, dreams and aspirations from North London to the South coast, to the Northeast. And not least of all, he’ll get that damn curtain up for those of us clutching to our stools and checking the days off of every calendar we pass until our team takes shape on the field for the first time.

On Sunday, August 10, a few of us gathered to watch that curtain pull away from the stage as Portsmouth and Manchester United took the first kick on the 2008-2009 season in the Community Shield.

It was a fairly bland affair to be honest. Most-telling from our little corner of the world, Manchester United really made a showing for themselves with their famous global reach on this beautiful morning.


Count him, ONE Manchester United supporter turned up for the match … and that in the 84th minute after several phone calls held him accountable. Sure the match means nothing, but hey, it’s the curtain raiser! Time to get excited folks. The wave that'll hit us on Saturday for the season opener will crash hard, but we've hard our pre-season, we've scoured the transfer market all summer and we had that massive festival of the Euros to tide us over.

Some start early. Wednesday rings in the round of Champions League qualifiers that sees Arsenal face Steve McClaren's FC Twente and Liverpool keep their fingers crossed for the fitness and ensuing inclusion of Steven Gerrard against Standard Liege, both matches on the road.

An interesting side note that will play itself out over the next two plus weeks until the transfer window is slammed shut ... Arsenal desperately need a central midfielder. Whatever Arsene says to the contrary about his preparation, there's no way this team can challenge on all fronts with only Cesc Fabregas as an established option in the middle of the pitch (at only 21!). One of the true problems last year was Arsene's inability to give him time as the winter wore on. Arsene has hinted that he'd be interested in Liverpool target Gareth Barry, and he's hinted that he'd be interested in current Liverpool player Xabi Alonso. We've already discussed that, but Xabi has had, by all accounts, a terrific summer training schedule. As the dominoes, then, are set, if Gerrard is fit and keeps Xabi out of the lineup, Rafa avoids cup-tying the Basque, which could very well open up a sale to Arsenal, and the funds for Rafa to finally exchange commitment rings with Barry.

The clock is definitely ticking. If you weren't excited already ... it's high time you joined us.

1 comment:

Jim said...

One fan! And he had to be called/texted multiple times. And his sister and a friend of hers had to be coaxed into also showing up. And his sister and her friend had to be a little boozy already.

That's what it took to get a Man U fan to the bar on Sunday.

One fan.