I’ve spoken to numerous people over the last few days that have made comments to the effect that “the football season starts today”. So, what have I been yabbering on about on here for the last two or three weeks, eh? Of course, such is the all-pervasive influence of the Premiership that one could be forgiven for thinking that it all kicks off today. At the time of writing, it has already begun, with potential whipping boys Sheffield United playing potential champions Liverpool. We could be on for some sort of surprise, as United have just scored, but I’m not very optimistic about anything in the Premiership this season.
My mood has been further darkened by reading an article in The Sun about how big clubs (Chelsea and Manchester City were mentioned specifically, but the theme was that this is a general trend) poach and tap up children from the academies of young players, usually by-passing the clubs and all other legitimate channels to approach children as young as 12 and their parents. Of course, they get caught out as a matter of routine, but the fines are in the region of £10,000-£30,000, so they don’t care. Clubs like Gillingham & Stockport County, who’ve both been within a hair’s breadth of bankruptcy over the last ten years or so, have both been stung by big clubs like this in the last couple of seasons. I wouldn’t be optimistic about the FA doing anything about it, either. Chelsea’s behaviour in the transfer market over the last couple of years has been occasionally suspect, to say the least, but has anything been done about it? Of course not. If Chelsea can get away with unsettling Ashley Cole from Arsenal, they can sure as hell do it with some thirteen year-old that might not even make the grade.
Elsewhere in the Premiership, Chelsea will be kicking off their title defence with a home match against Manchester City. I hope that clubs such as City don’t go down the same route as some other clubs by resting players for matches at Stamford Bridge. It’s a slap in the face to those that have paid a lot of very hard earned money in order to watch a football match. Other than that, Arsenal have an inriguing match against a suddenly rejuvenated Aston Villa, and Spurs travel to Bolton – a match that has “long ball punting” written all over it. More to follow later.