The new season, I mean.
It’s hard to think that tomorrow will be the last non-football Saturday for the next nine months or so.
Yep, from next week competitive action for AFCW starts again, and despite not kicking a ball in anger since the 7th March – it’s come around quickly.
Charlton on Tuesday in the EFL Trophy (a tournament so disdained that even Leasing.com gave up on it) may not be the game to rouse the passions.
Neither will heading to the Kassam be, but it’s definitely true – proper football is about to return.
It’s been a good six months, and after our inevitable stuffing against Oxford we’ll wish it will be a further half-a-year before we play again.
But I think we’ve had long enough without a game now, and the time is right for us to return to it.
All under strange circumstances, granted, but by the time we go to Northampton for life back in L1, some degree of normality will be back.
This is the first update since I went and returned from Germany (a relevant thought on that later).
In that time, we’ve got the fixtures out, a new striker, and even have somewhere to play our designated home fixtures until we actually go home.
That it’s Loftus Road makes sense on more than one level. Rumours of Chelski or Fulham or even the Stoop never materialised in the end, more’s the pity.
Selhurst was a non starter, though would have appealed to your editor’s rather odd sense of humour.
A brief cameo back at KM was never likely after we told Chelski we were gone. They’re busy doing ground works there now, and I think they’re happy we’ve left.
Had we been confirmed behind closed doors for most of the season, then somewhere like Crawley might have made more sense.
Playing all games away until moving home would have been an option if NPL was complete by the end of next month.
But QPR is best because there’s a decent possibility that fans can return to games by October, and we should take advantage of that.
True, the decision makers in this country will panic and over-react at the slightest thing right now, and nothing is guaranteed.
Assuming some common sense is still around by the 1st October (stop laughing), London W12 isn’t too bad to get to, and it’s likely that the majority of us will get in the ground.
Besides – Loftus Road is still one of my favourite venues to visit. And at least one individual has likened the completed NPL to a modern version of it…
I would mention the fixtures, but until supporters are allowed back in it’s a bit academic.
Starting at Northampton isn’t the worst, though we dip out on the large Plymouth contingent.
And Hull away is in the evening, although away fans are probably barred anyway.
It’s a bit of a shitty end of season though, with Oxford, Ipswich and Pompey three of the last four.
Mind you, with a quick glance, the “best” home games of the campaign are all when we’re likely to be in our new place.
Maybe a full house will be allowed by the last two home games of the season? There will either be treatment for the Rona, a vaccine, or they’ll just open up society again, tell everyone just to catch it and shut the fuck up if they do.
Speaking of diseases, it’s a shame we can’t move the home game on January 30th to the middle of next month. At least it will test our new disinfectant routine.
From our point of view, the most important fixture will be the first one at home after we leave Loftus Road.
Judging by the “TBC”, it’s currently presumed to be Blackpool on Tuesday 27th October.
Indeed, the following designated home games are all midweekers, so I wonder if the opening will be earmarked for Wigan on the 14th November?
I expect we won’t be able to move in by 27/10 anyway, practical completion or not, and I think the 7th November is FA Cup first round weekend.
We’ll get Tranmere away anyway, but would the club be happy with life back home against Blyth Spartans? A game where we’ll inevitably end up losing.
Wigan would at least give us time, and perhaps as importantly would be a good fixture for Sky to cover.
They’re showing Brentford’s first game at Lionel Road, against Wycombe in the League Cup, and us moving home is arguably more newsworthy.
Plus, the 14th is an international weekend, so we won’t have the Premier League or Championship taking priority.
By the sound of it, Joe Palmer is suggesting we’ll need test events and some leeway for construction/Covid, so three weeks grace after “completion” sounds reasonable.
Needless to say, the 3-0 defeat last weekend at our temporary home deflated things a bit, though I’m a bit loathe to start condemning certain players, as some are doing.
With Ollie Palmer getting up to speed following an operation, we netted another signing a couple of days ago with Ryan Longman.
He’s a forward, though can play in a number of positions, and is apparently like shit off a shovel.
He’s a youngster on loan, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing – while the danger of a new Michael Folivi is always there, we did all right with some lad called Marcus Forss last season.
To be honest, I’d rather those sort of players rather than wasting money on expensive duds like Appiah. The former may not work, but the latter types cripple us.
We’ve got Longman, Piggy, Palmer and Roscrow up front now, though I’ve probably forgotten somebody.
Whether the Crow will end up going on loan I don’t know, it might make sense if he did.
I don’t know who else we need, and in what position – plenty were unhappy at Osew’s performance against QPR, and some were not impressed with Trueman.
That might be a tad unfair/premature, as there’s likely to be a lot of ring rustyness in all the squad right now.
Do we need an experienced centre back, as many claim? More to the point, are we likely to get one if we do?
I don’t know if GH is thinking his rebuild is almost done for now. We’ve still got a fair amount of thumb suckers, but with things remaining in a state of flux – we won’t know until the window closes in October.
There’s a lack of PSFs, for obvious reasons, although it does surprise me that we haven’t got any further friendlies earmarked – assuming they’re being publicly announced that is.
Unless we’re using the ex-JPT and the expected Carabao debacle for exactly that.
After this weekend, the new campaign starts here. Personally, I think it’s a hard one to predict.
I think we’ll be OK if we have a spine, and a couple of characters that can dig us out of the inevitable holes.
Hodger and Nick Daws seem to be the right men for this particular job at this particular time** (famous last words), and there doesn’t seem to be quite the feeling of impending doom after the QPR game that I might have expected.
** – as an aside, while I was away I note that Walter is now a youth academy head coach in Jamaica.
He won’t have a bad life out there at all, and he won’t be going out there for peppercorn, but there’s a reason why he’s reduced to coaching kids in the Caribbean…
I don’t doubt the training sessions after last Saturday will have been walks in the park, put it that way.
And considering what life has been like for the past six months or so – it’s nice to be able to talk about normal things again.
Of course, you-know-where continues to look more like a football stadium with each passing day.
Those with Instagram can look at the latest pictures, which will no doubt get updated as you read this.
The way the East stand has been slung up so quickly is amazing, and by the time we head to Oxford the North stand will too be well on its way.
But the shiver down the spine when the first seats got put in…
I mentioned earlier about a relevant thought whilst in das Vaterland, and it involved watching Das Erste’s equivalent of Soccer Saturday while resting my feet.
The lower leagues in Germany are already back, with a few fans let in for good measure, and I noticed that NPL will end up looking like some of those lower league venues you get there/Scandinavia.
That’s a good thing.
Those who went to the Kickers Offenbach friendly last year will know that a stadium doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.
And when you look at somewhere like Stadion Zwickau, capacity 10,000, all we’ve ever needed is a modern venue like that.
That’s why I’ve never been that worried by having a 9000 capacity. We won’t need to extend that for a good while, certainly for the next 5-10 years (famous last words again…).
When you look at the construction photos, and get an idea of the size of it, it’s the correct size for AFCW right now.
True, there’s still questions to be asked. Where will the floodlights go, and how quickly can they be installed?
How quickly can they put asphalt down behind the stands? Or build the turnstiles etc? Though the response to that will be – probably quicker than you think.
Will the main stand be fully kitted out for opening? Actually, that doesn’t matter so much if it isn’t, because (a) half of it isn’t going to be used for a while, and (b) a lot of venues aren’t fully built when they’re opened.
Liverpool’s main stand was opened without all of it getting done, and I can definitely remember sitting in the half-built stand at Newcastle in 1988.
We’re going to dip out on the big full-house homecoming, and there will still be a few who think we should hold off returning home until that’s possible.
But it’s not going to be restricted capacity forever, and the first “normal” game will sell out anyway.
And anyway – the vast majority who will get to see us back home for the first time since 1991 will be the ones who deserve to be there…