As previously stated, I don’t do the close season. The wild scattergun speculation that is the transfer rumour mill, is something I won’t involve myself in.
My limited concentration span means I get bored easily at Newcastle United pre-season friendlies as I’m over aware that there’s nowt riding on them and the various worldwide money grabbing warm-ups that the TV sees fit to ram down your throats, are the kind of yawn that only a mental idiot would prioritise over the new series of Rick and Morty, or Archer.
So, I’m still a bit detached, and it’s something that will continue for longer than I’d actually like this time. See, I like to bugger off to a nice place for a little while around this time of year and do a few things I enjoy, in what I call a holiday, and just such an occurrence is imminent.
Unfortunately for me, I’ll miss the opening game with Spurs, as well as the friendly with Verona, whilst a mate’s wedding means I’ll also be unable to get to the West Ham game. This means it will be mid-September before I get to SJP, a colossal absence due to the spiteful vendetta that the fixture computer maintains against me personally – and no one else.
I did offset this enforced absence a bit though, as I actually went to the ground just last weekend. With holiday and season imminent, I decided to take my two little boys to get fully kitted out in the shiny new kit, complete with name printing and Premier league sleeve badges. Neither of them could really care less, they’re far too young, so the overpriced cash I flung over the counter was all on my head.
A funny thing happened though, as I stood in the lengthy queue for the shirt printing. I actually felt a pang of guilt. I knew then, and I know even more so now, that some people amongst our support would judge me harshly for spending a heap of cash at the club shop run by the current regime. Sure as eggs is eggs it’ll be away to the owners back pocket as opposed to contributing to much needed reinforcements.
This is where I’m at in life though. It’s an outrageous layout for an outfit that has a shelf life of about ten months, regardless of the destination of the funds. But I want my kids to have their first Newcastle kit to wear on their holidays, complete with Premier League sleeves badges, to draw envious glances from the inevitable slew of nearby mackems.
If we explode back into the Premier League with another trademark thumping of Spurs, they’ll be rolled out ungraciously.
Cost is of course a consistent ache for your typical football fan. Ludicrously our away ticket price will stabilise back in the Premier League, with the £30 limit making trips more accessible. This is less to do with any sense of decency from the authorities and more because ticketing is such a minute fraction of a club’s income in the days of mega TV contracts and filthy rich ownership.
Neymar’s £200 million move to PSG is just another landmark in football’s march to madness. I’ve even heard a few remarks commending NUFC for their frugality in a silly season where Kyle Walker has cost best part of £50 million. This is even more mental than Man U shelling £75 million for Lukaku, who scores the goals that win you games, at a third of the price of your average Brazilian number 10.
I wonder where the glass ceiling is on all this?
What if all the billionaires decide to invest in another toy, like mixed monkey pentathlon or innocent persons slaughter?
I actually have a hope that the top six sod off to a permanent European league and take all the money with them, leaving the English league to exist in some kind of ideal midpoint like the mid-nineties where plenty of games are on the telly, no one has to pretend Chelsea are a club of traditional significance and Newcastle United are actually contenders again.
It seems unlikely we’ll be landing as contenders on our Premier return given the slim pickings transfer wise. I’m still reserving judgement as there’s still a month to go for the window and I still have confidence in our manager’s ability to build a squad.
People have been quick to judge the likes of Lazaar and Hanley as transfer failings – but this was the flip side of the positive seasons had by Dummett and Clark. Not only does this provide vital cover when injuries strike (as happened at centre-half towards the end of last season) but it provides a competition for places that keeps players sharp.
How many people in the Pardew era could lazily underperform each week, knowing fine well there was no serious threat to their starting place as a consequence?
Hopefully the squad building will continue and by the time I arrive at my first home (league) game we’ll have a squad in suitable shape to face Stoke after a month of matches, an annoying unnecessary international break, and two rounds of league cup action for Sunderland.
I’m surely looking forward to this more than anyone has looked forward to a game with Stoke City in Premier League history, the Potters being a bit of a longstanding insipid presence in the league’s mid-table.
Not only will I be making a belated return but I’ll be saying farewell to pounding pavements as I’ll (hopefully!) have completed the great north run the week before and taking the opportunity to get very, very drunk indeed.
This serves as a timely reminder that there are things in life more important than football (the charity stuff – not getting very, very drunk) as this shameless plug (go HERE) illustrates. Any support for fine charities supporting people going through incredible heartbreak is thoroughly appreciated.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf
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