Will you be as lousy as at least the previous two seasons have been?
Well, nine months or so of competitive football awaits us, and in a strange way I’m looking forward to it.
Part of this is down to simply having a three month break from it all, which helps more than you think.
But also having what turned out to be a decent pre-season also helps.
We’ve had some games in previous warm-ups where we’ve looked pretty poor, which manifested themselves in the proper matches.
With the exception of the Woking bore draw, there wasn’t much of that sense this time round.
Indeed, we can go up to Cleethorpes tomorrow with a slight spring in our collective step.
This might be false optimism, a delusion stemming from the phoney war that is pre-season campaigns.
But I don’t think it’s fully misplaced at all. It does seem a little bit different this time around.
We could have had three easier games to start off with, and a loss tomorrow wouldn’t be an entire surprise.
Which of course would set off the AFCW Doom Cult.
It’s mildly ironic we’re playing Grimsby again, at the very same venue as well.
It will be interesting to see how much we’ve improved (or not) in those three months since. And a notable improvement tomorrow might simply be enough, regardless of result.
If we lose to a last minute penalty after looking decent, then it sucks. But we need to feel we’re on the right track again.
The main focal point is the individual who was doing Meet The Manager last night.
No, not Aaron Paul (who seems to be doing these things nowadays) but John Alec Jackson.
I’m in no doubt whatsoever that he considers himself very lucky to be in charge this time around.
Although your editor had a thought over the summer : did the club guarantee his position for 2023/24 as far back as January?
As in, it didn’t matter what the form was, because he would be getting a proper pre-season with a little bit of money behind him?
OK, he tested that to the limit, and there remains plenty of people who would happily see him gone if we lose tomorrow.
That said, and let’s be honest here – there are a few people who want him to fail.
Why? Because it means they get to walk around crowing “I told you so”, even though many of the issues he’s dealt with were historical.
A club that was feeling the aftershocks of relegation, a hierarchy that sometimes has an odd approach to budgets, and half a squad that was below legal drinking age in some parts of the world to boot.
I forget who came up with the “Every Academy Sperm Is Sacred” quip, but some of our youngsters have been victim of the AFCW youth hype machine.
A mantra that came from the very top, it has to be said.
But JJ is under pressure, and he knows it. That said, at MTM** he was apparently very relaxed.
** – I forgot it was on until about 17h50 yesterday, and had to go out anyway, so I missed it.
It was well attended, no thanks to the club deciding to barely advertise it on the OS. Some things don’t change.
Maybe it’s because he’s under so much pressure it paradoxically makes it easier to relax? Or maybe he’s just chilled out full stop.
If we’ve fucked it up, and we’re looking in a state by October, he’s gone. We know that, and so does he.
Ditto post-January if we repeat the two previous seasons. It was borderline intolerable in 22/23, and it will properly break this time around.
Most fans are clearly going to give him another chance though, and as of now they’re mostly behind him again.
Getting in at least ten new players helps, ditto some of those leaving, and there is a fresher feel to the squad now.
And maybe a good result against Coventry or Wrexham – or even both – will kickstart us? We haven’t had a good performance and win for a while.
What happens between now and the 27th April 2024 remains to be seen. It could be the third clusterfuck in a row, equally it could shock us all with its positivity.
Success in 2023/24 may mean finishing between tenth and fifteenth, never remotely looking in danger.
Hell, it might even be just simply not fucking it up after the January transfer window shuts.
One thing about the new season that remains true regardless of what division you’re in though.
Up until the first kickoff tomorrow, it’s the only time in a campaign where every single club is on an equal footing…