Perhaps the bloke who programmes the fixtures computer does have a sense of humour after all. Or maybe it’s a sadistic streak.
Anyone who can rustle up a game for City against Fulham on the final day of the season has to have one of the two.
Equally, with many predicting a trip to Molineux on opening day to be the worst case scenario, sure enough – the man in the cardigan delivers us exactly that. That Sky Sports have chosen City’s opener for their Sunday 10 August, 4pm, prime time slot merely adds to the impending drama.
And Neil Adams had better ensure his men are up for this one, because it’s unlikely to be pretty. A lot of water has passed under Carrow Bridge since we last locked horns with the Old Gold – 24 March 2012 to be precise – and in that time our paths have diverged in very opposite directions.
The men from the Black Country have beef with us – the origin of which I’m not 100 per cent sure (I suspect it goes back further than Kevin Muscat) – and in the intervening years some of our number have made hay of their demise.
They’ll be up for it – no question.
Molineux can be an intimidating old place at the best of times – the second leg of the 2001/02 Play-Off semi-final springs to mind – and with it being their return from the brink it’s guaranteed to be a feisty one.
It will be a big test for Team Adams – one that, if managed well, could go a long way to placating a still disgruntled Yellow Army.
The flip side….. well, let’s not go there for now.
And we can’t forget our friends down the A140 with whom we provisionally look horns on August 23 at Portman Road.
While it seems only five minutes since ‘1p5wich’ became part of the Oxford English dictionary, it’s over three years since that unforgettable evening at Portman Road; one from which they’re still smarting.
Understandably they’ll be itching to get the 5-1, or the 9-2 (take your pick), out of their systems and if Twitter is to be believed, their players (most of whom I must confess to having never heard of) are champing at the bit to be let loose on their local rivals.
Again, another big test for Adams and his team.
If the unthinkable happens, and it goes southwards, we have until February 28 to await our revenge. And while 189 days may seem a long time, it’s nothing like as frustrating as 3 years.
Squeezed in between the early trips to Wolverhampton and deepest Suffolk, City have two home games, against Watford and Blackburn respectively – both of whom harbour serious ambitions of a top six finish.
Adams, as ever, has said all the right things and the noises emanating from Colney are encouraging, but he knows better than anyone just how crucial those opening four games are. They will set the tone for the season.
Even those of a non-reactive nature, and who acknowledge the Adams era has to be given a chance to get off the ground, recognise the importance of a good start. While a flyer is always to be desired, for City’s new broom it is an absolute must.
The honeymoon period for Adams has been and gone, and the hurly-burly of the Championship is a notoriously unforgiving place. While he won’t be judged over four games – at least not by the majority – if they don’t yield some points the pressure will be cranked up a notch or two even before August ends.
Equally some wins, and good performances, will go a long way in getting the doubters on board.
The general reaction on social media to said opening four games was one of mild horror – not dissimilar to the reaction to the infamous run-in of 2013/14 – but really? We’re told continually there are no easy games in the Championship and I’m unconvinced this particular run of four games is trickier than any other.
Time will tell – and I may be eating my words by August 24 – but lets not kid ourselves that the opening quartet are anything like as daunting as anything we faced last season.
In other fixture-based news we have the return of that quaint concept known as night games – ten in total.
While the Yellow Army are to be asked to go over and beyond the call when acquainting themselves with the delights of Blackburn, Middlesborough, Huddersfield and Leeds on a Tuesday evening, there are one or two gems awaiting the faithful – notably the home game against the white of Yorkshire.
New Year’s Day is a curious one. We don’t have a game. And while that may be good news for the pubs and clubs of the City (the players are allowed a night out right?), it does rather spoil the ritual of welcoming in the New Year with the traditional football/hangover combo.
Boxing Day is another that traditionally pairs City with someone quite close to home – albeit the days of East Anglian derbies to wash down the turkey have long gone – and the man in the Hush Puppies has decided Millwall should be the providers of Christmas cheer 2014-style.
I’m not expecting the Lions to arrive armed with mince pies and sausage rolls… at least not for eating.
So… now we know for sure the task that awaits Adams’ City. Forty-six games, twenty-three at home, twenty-three away, with the possibility of three more if they are not quite good enough for automatic promotion.
The bookies are as yet undecided as to whether we have the wherewithal to make the top two. While Bet365 have us down as favourites, Coral consider us only the fourth best equipped to win the thing.
It’s impossible to call, at least until our Class of 2015 have dipped their toes into the choppy waters of the Championship.
And now I can hardly wait.