And they're off? Sort of!
As you may be aware Stan isn't the biggest fan of pre-season friendlies and increasingly, after today at least, isn't the biggest fan of season curtain-raisers…
Taking a cursory glance down the rather peculiar list of results that emerged from the first Saturday of the season, who'd in honesty be willing to place any serious money on them being indicative of what will follow over the next nine months.
Will West Brom be rubbish all season? Will Palace romp away with the league? Are Ipswich the new Real Madrid? Are we pretty average??. Actually don't answer that one!
Increasingly Stan feels that all the openers reveal is just how effective each club's pre-season has been in getting their squad up to speed. Those that hit the ground running win the opening game whilst those who have got it wrong get thumped.
Considering the possession and territorial superiority that Preston had it would be tempting to put us in the second category, but if we are honest there was another very obvious reason why we appeared a bit ? a-hem?ring rusty!
Not many teams would have benefited from the only real competition in the final week of pre-season being over who could get to the bog first.
Therefore as three o'clock arrived, Granty had no option but to send out the 11, fittest rather than 11 best men, and all things considered, they did OK. Nothing more, just OK.
Preston bossed this game pretty much from start to finish. Bar the odd ten minutes of Norwich dominance, around the 30-minute mark, it was all one way. Stan can't lay his hands on the stats, but he's sure the corner count will tell it's own story about where this game was played.
The big positive, if we are looking for it, has to be the resilience shown to hang in there and not roll over. We never looked like a beaten side, as we have done so often in the last couple of seasons even before the capitulations began.
Obviously Dublin's presence at Preston set-pieces was a benefit. And Marshall's handling, by and large, was good, so there were definite reasons to be thankful as opposed to hopeful.
If we are looking for negatives, then there were plenty, however it's far too early to start savaging the team in light of the week just passed.
Grant hit the nail on the head when he talked about missing quality at times. It's obvious that a team minus Hucks and Smith is going to lack a spark especially when the formation has been set up to play them.
What we ended up with was a side made up of good honest players in a formation that didn't play to the strengths they had. Two big target men and no width?
A long way to go in every sense. A season rolling out before us and a squad that, regardless of the trials that befell us this week, still lacks a certain something? what was that word that Granty used again? Ah! that's right?quality!