This summer is one of those awful summers football fans across the world dread. A summer without a significant international tournament to stave off the Premier League cravings. The women’s World Cup provided some much needed entertainment but it feels like it ended a lifetime ago and pre season football just doesn’t cut the mustard.
I really dislike preseason for a number of reasons. I don’t like that a new signing might get injured before the campaign gets underway. I don’t like the ‘football lite’, as I like to call it, in the preseason matches. Even glamour ties like Manchester United versus Barcelona have a diluted feel to them which is not helped by the number of substitutions managers feel they need to make to give everyone playing time. Mostly though I hate how drawn out and laborious the transfer window is. I do not buy into the drama of so called ‘sagas’ and can just about put up with the spectacle that is deadline day.
One of the biggest reasons I get so frustrated this time of year, especially as a budding journalist, is the amount of speculation and nonsense written and reported about transfer targets. So many stories feel as though they a made up off the cuff because someone who works in the canteen at Anfield heard the youth coach talking about player x,y and z. As far as I can see it is the only form of journalism where bare faced lies can be used as headlines only for the story itself to contain nothing to back them up and borrowed waffle from a press conference in the far east or the US. If that wasn’t bad enough so called ITK (in the know) accounts have a field day on social media reporting newspapers and media outlets work as their own. If all the speculation is to be believed the Premier League will have to change their rules to allow squads to contain 60 players or more.
One consolation for me this summer is the Ashes series. I have always enjoyed cricket in a way that most of my friends haven’t and whilst I love the pace and big hitting of limited over cricket I am a bit of purist at heart and I love test matches. Cricket captured my imagination as a youngster and I have been lucky to grow up in a generation of real greats (all though it must be said very few of them have been English). I was lucky enough to catch the end of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose’s blistering careers. I saw Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock devastate batting orders. I saw Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar score runs for fun but it was the Aussies that truly impressed me the most. As an Englishman it’s probably not the most popular of views but the standard of top quality players churned out by Cricket Australia is quite remarkable. As a (poor) left handed batsmen I always felt an affinity with those players most and the explosive Adam Gilchrist was a secret favourite of mine for years. I couldn’t help but sit back in admiration as he smashed England all over for the second fastest test hundred with Monty and Hoggard getting most of the punishment. Then they had the enigma that is Shane Warne who got the ball to turn so much he bamboozled batsmen for years. If that wasn’t enough they had probably the most consistent bowler ever in Glenn McGrath at the other end always looking to take out the top of off stump.
With the series currently tied at 1-1 I can’t wait to see how today’s crop of talent perform against our boys who need a big performance after the last test. I looked into getting tickets but as a skint student I am once again priced out of such events. My hope is that the batting line up can perform much better than it has thus far in the series, particularly the top order which has really struggled. Fingers crossed and good luck England!