Our season kicks off in earnest in seventeen days with our home league fixture against Manchester United. The big question everyone's asking is whether we can break the bogey of our traditional bad start to the season.
At the beginning of the 2009-2010 season we were all confident we had our best squad for years and we would do well. Instead, we bombed badly. Key players were slow to recover from injury and that played a part, but it didn't explain everything. The last two seasons also had bad starts.
David Moyes had to dismantle his squad and start again. He's done it with little additional money and his usual clever moves in player loans.
Nikica Jelavic turned out to be a brilliant signing, rescued from the Rangers debacle. It remains to be seen if Steven Naismith can be as good. This time though the Prem will be ready for Jelly, whereas last season he was a surprise package. Just as important is the return of Steven Pienaar who we hope will resume his partnership with Leighton Baines down the left. If Vic Anichebe doesn't make a breakthrough this season he never will.
Defence looks solid but is now at veteran stage and might get caught out by younger players with more energy. Shane Duffy looked promising in the few glimpses we got of him last season.
Midfield is key to everything. Tim Cahill has gone and that will leave a big hole even though age and injuries caught up with him in his last eighteen months. Marouane Fellaini is brilliant, Darron Gibson solid, Ross Barkley promising, Jack Rodwell on his last chance (if he doesn't move to centre back), Leon Osman likely to spend more time on the bench. Wide right remains a problem position.
So it looks like we're in reasonable shape and up for it. The sooner the season starts the better. Anything's better than the Hackney drugs fest subsidised with money stolen from the rest of the nation. By now we've all had enough of synchronised underwater team knitting.
The BIG question is whether our squad can get rid of the bogey start and why it's there in the first place. If traditionally they can make short work of most teams from January onwards why can't they do it from the off?
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