Saturday, August 11, 2007

The new football season starts here

For the first time in ages, all four English divisions kick off on the same weekend, so I get to watch Ipswich play Sheffield Wednesday with Paul and dad this afternoon at Portman Road while the Premiership season kicks off at the same time. Thanks to the vagaries of the TV schedules, Blues don't kick off until lunchtime tomorrow (so I can watch Ipswich without nervously checking my mobile for updates every five minutes), but we appear to be not that popular among the TV people this time round, so there should be more Saturday afternoon kick-offs than we were used to the last time we were in the Premiership.

I'm genuinely excited about this new season - Blues are back to where we perform best, as underdogs scrapping for our survival, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if the manager doesn't try to be too negative we could surprise a few people this season and finish comfortably in mid-table. Bruce has wheeled and dealed superbly this summer, and the 10 players he's brought in exude quality, never mind giving our squad a much-needed shot in the arm in terms of numbers. Most of the pundits have written us off - bizarrely saying Sunderland will be the only promoted team to survive (I have a sneaking suspicion they could implode again - after all, their last two seasons in the top flight yielded just 19 and 15 points respectively, and their squad is not exactly the best, despite having shelled out silly money on a handful of new players). A few buck the trend - including one of my favourites, Charlie Nicholas, who has always been favourable towards Blues in the past, and pretty accurate with many of his predictions for us.

So I'm feeling excited, even by an opening weekend at Stamford Bridge against a Chelsea side suffering from injury woes. No doubt by 3pm tomorrow my optimism will have evaporated as the reality of the struggle ahead sinks in, but for now I'm looking forward to the new season for the first time in years. To echo an earlier post, remind me of this when we're bottom in October and I'm screaming for the manager's head...

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