For those blissfully unaware, next season’s fixtures will be revealed to one and all in six days time.
SkyBet – sponsors of the Football League – have been asking us to guess who we expect our teams to be playing on the opening day of the season.
While a tad illogical (isn’t it *almost* random?) it did at least serve as a reminder – to me at least – of who we will be locking horns with next season.
While I’ve listened to much of the ‘next season could actually be more fun than the Prem’ rhetoric, I’d pretty much treated it all with a pinch of the proverbial.
How can watching Brentford, Rotherham and co be more fun than mixing it with Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool? How can a trip to Bloomfield Road compare to a trip to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’?
But now it’s almost upon us – the fixture list that is – it does to start to feel like it could be fun. Hell, we might even enjoy it.
It does of course all boil down to the start that Neil Adams’ men make to the new season but, for now at least, let’s assume they make a half-decent one.
Let’s also assume (and this is a biggie) that the majority of the Yellow Army have, by the time the first ball is kicked, thrown their full weight behind the Class of 2015.
Away trips may even start being enjoyable again. Remember those days when the Yellow Army would set off on a Saturday morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of hope and expectation?
While it seems an eternity since we’ve experienced said buzz, I expect there to be plenty to look forward to from road trips Adams-style.
In Gary Holt’s recent interview with the EDP he used a phrase that should be music to the ears. “You might as well be playing at home every week”, was the Scot’s way of describing the away-day surroundings that await City’s players next season.
Gone it seems – almost at least – are the days of turning up at decrepit stadiums with less-than-perfect playing surfaces (or as some call it, Selhurst Park), with most venues now affording more than a modicum of comfort for players and fans alike – even in the second tier.
If that ‘playing at home every week’ ethos can be carried over into positive, fear-free performances on the pitch then perhaps the doubters, over time, will re-enter the fold.
Certainly the noises emanating from Colney have been encouraging, but in truth we spent most of last season saying exactly that – and look where that ended.
I have no doubt that when Holt says “… it’s about getting that work ethic and belief back into them to go and win games, roll their sleeves up, work their socks off…”, he means it. The trick, as ever, is getting the players to do it regularly and consistently.
If that odd concept were to be achieved then there will be more than enough in the new fixture list to whet the appetite.
Aside from that joyful trip down the A140, where a warm welcome is always assured, the away trips to Elland Road and Molineux are positively mouth-watering; each one guaranteed to be bristling with venom and passion – just how they should be.
Because, however sophisticated and grown up it felt to be mingling with the so-called elite, there was one crucial element missing throughout our stay in the Premier League.
The only games that came even close to generating a derby-type atmosphere were those against Villa (for obvious reasons), but given their tendency to end in defeat or to include the bizarre spectacle of a City player not celebrating a goal – or both – there was precious little fun to be had.
Away games at Portman Road, Elland Road and Molineux are sure to produce at least an element or two of mirth – regardless of the results – and each will provide a perfect Yellow Army foil for that quaint footballing phenomenon called banter.
While most Premier League fans – especially those in the top five – pride themselves on being the kings [of banter], most either rely on the Delia ‘let’s be avin you’ type humour (hilarious though it is) or condescending, belittling, displays of breathtaking arrogance.
Naturally all of the above will still be on offer in the Championship, but we’ll at least be able to comfort ourselves with the old ‘you won’t be laughing after ninety minutes’ – because City will at least begin every game with a chance of winning it.
Not something that could be said of last season.
So, as time goes by, and the pain of relegation makes way for pre-season optimism, things suddenly don’t seem quite so bad – unless it’s just me.
That doesn’t mean *everything* in the garden is rosy, or that we agree 100 per cent with how the board managed the Hughton/Adams transition, but as soon as August 9 comes round it’ll be time to put the differences aside and our trust in Team Adams.
With the blue, the white and the old gold lying in wait it could yet turn out to be an interesting one.