Sunday, August 8, 2010

A time of endless hope in Europe

As we turn the calender from July to August, we in the football world begin the dream.

August signals the start of the European football season, this weekend we saw the start of the English season as league football began its regular season and the Community Shield was played on Sunday. Also France began it's league play as it's top division got started. The beauty of the start of a new season is the amount of endless hope that is in the minds and hearts of supporters.

The beginning of any football season whether it be Europe or South America, North America or Africa, it's a time in which all teams are even. Now of course there are clear favorites before the first ball is kicked, but the pure essence of hope makes the first round of games some of the most exciting. Supporters can now see the new signing in real competitive action, or see old faces take another run at a title. This time of the year is also the best time to see massive upsets in the league. For example tonight Montpellier fans who must have thought they were dreaming after last season's dream 5th place finish in Ligue 1, and qualifying for Europa League in its first season back up, shocked Bordeaux by beating them in the French league opener 1-0. The other surprises were in England's championship where highly rated Bristol City was pumped 3-0 by new boys Millwall, and promotion favorites Middlesbrough were defeated 3-1 by Roy Keane's Ipswich Town.

Now of course the first game of the season never makes or breaks an entire season as the European game is a slow burn towards the spring, but on opening day all are allowed to dream the impossible dream for many of the supporters. For those who have true title aspirations the start of the season is a time to assess what the club has done or not done in the off season. Most of the time supporters are trying the size up what their immediate rivals have done and how much of a threat they really are.

Manchester United 2010 Community Shield winners
You got this sense while watching the Community Shield today between Manchester United and Chelsea. As both teams have been relatively quiet during the transfer window this summer, you felt that at least in the first half both sides were feeling each other out, and seeing what changes and improvements have been made. Although the game ended 3-1 for United, I don't think United supporters are breaking out the Premier League bubbly yet but it makes them hopeful.

And sometimes that's all you really need.


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