A few brief thoughts before I piss off to Germany tomorrow…
In the first bit of proper fixture news for L1 since the truncating of last season, the Carabao Cup draw has been made.
And it’s….. er, Oxford. Away.
Actually, I suppose it being without supporters isn’t a bad thing – imagine if we’d drawn Brentford or Brum or some other vaguely interesting tie.
Maybe they’ll use a couple of games in this round for pilot schemes in getting crowds back? Given it’s the first round of the League Cup, it wouldn’t be much different from normal.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite enough, the EFL fixtures are due out this Friday. So you can guess what games you won’t be allowed into.
And this long, long break suddenly becomes ever shorter.
It will be a shame if the really tasty looking games (ie Hull) are out of bounds, but them’s the breaks at the moment.
But when that first ball is kicked as a League One side again, it will have been a week over six months since competitive action.
That’s six months. Not six weeks.
The past is a different planet. Especially when you read the SW19 update from that game against Bolton.
And no, I don’t regret the bit about something else delaying NPL. I just wouldn’t have guessed a global pandemic would have done it.
But we look forward to 2020/21. With the exception of the usual sufferers of Chicken Little syndrome, there does seem to be a bit more of a positive vibe with the new squad.
True, we should be beating Corinthian Casuals, Leatherhead and Tonbridge comfortably anyway, long layoff or not.
Yet I remember some of the games against such sides in previous pre-seasons, where we managed to underwhelm and were the first signs of a long season ahead.
So I’d rather hear about us playing well (being well aware that the OS may put a positive spin on proceedings) than discovering we’re struggling against non-league sides.
I’m not saying we’re going to end up L1 Champions this campaign, and those who permanently think the sky is falling may be right when they say we’ll go down.
But while there are obviously further additions still to be made, it feels from afar that we’re in a better place squad wise this season.
One suspects GH knows who else he wants in, and it’s now a case of whether we can get them.
Not having to shovel vast sums of cash down the throats of the wage thieves helps, of course, and our success next (this?) season relies on this squad gelling.
I’m not so worried about us having youngsters aplenty – they were the high spot of last season, and they are a year further experienced.
In other words, I’m cautiously optimistic about the next nine months. I reserve the right to change my mind when we’re gubbed 5-0 on the opening day to Crewe.
All of which leaves the unanswered question on where we play before NPL gets opened.
Thankfully, we’re at the Kassam for our one game per season in the Carabao cup, so we don’t need to worry about that particular fixture.
It may be pure coincidence that we’ve got a friendly at Loftus Road this weekend (and is there any reason to have that behind closed doors? Really?).
The rumour mill is busy spinning the yarn that it will be our temporary home until our return home.
Which is plausible, though all subject to official confirmation and all that.
I guess there’s a presumption that crowds will be allowed back, even at 20% capacity, by October.
While we’ll have to wait and see, if that’s true a bigger venue will be better for us in the meantime. And QPR wouldn’t be the worst place to go.
If games remain off-limits for longer, why would we aim for a bigger venue though?
Probably because the EFL would want us sharing at a ground that is league standard for a start, and that would include things like standards for temporary dressing rooms.
That still wouldn’t answer whether we could get a cheaper deal at, say, Crawley. But I guess we have to commit to one venue if groundsharing, and we don’t want to be caught out if crowds can return.
That’s probably why KM isn’t on the table. That and we’ve apparently told Chelski we’ve left, and they’ve got their own groundwork that they can fit in around their Ladies games but not ours as well.
Wherever we’ll end up for the next couple of months, we’ll need to know before our first competitive home game of the season. By the weekend, we’ll know.
Actually, the whole move home has become even more fraught with the whole debentures thing, and I don’t envy the office staff one bit.
At some point in the near future, it will be done and dusted, and we’ll be on the final straight home.
By the time I return, I expect more pictures of NPL looking like a football stadium, and it will become more real with every snapshot.
After all, we’ve waited a while. Three decades worth.
See you next week sometime. We might have even signed a centre back by then…