I realise that what I’m about to say is hugely unfashionable, and may lead to readers doubting my judgement and sanity (not for the first time, I hear you say), but here goes anyway: I mourn the passing of the football season.
It struck home most forcibly when the commentator at the England match on Saturday said: “And there are only five minutes of the football season left!” Suddenly, I felt bereft and anxious. Not because I realised that there was precious little time left for England to claim a winner, but because it just seemed so callous and final. No football until August!
Superinjunctions, the ongoing political wranglings at Fifa, an under-21 tournament and all that transfer news just don’t hit the spot. I want the thud of boot on shinpad, not the waft of cheque book under nose, and, in a summer when there’s no World Cup or European Championships, it just seems a long time to wait.
Unkind observers may point out that, in previous years, Manchester City supporters like myself couldn’t wait for a season to end rather than start, but let’s leave that aside. I believe that every nation only really cares about one sport. Here in Britain, we love our cricket successes, we are passionate about rugby and, for two weeks in the summer, we even care about tennis. Yet, for the vast majority of people in these isles, football is the only game in town. I know it’s overblown, I know the players are overpaid, and I know there’s much about the modern game that makes you wince. But ever since I can remember, we’ve had to listen to those who complain about the encroachment of the football season on traditional summer pursuits like moaning about the weather or sitting in traffic jams. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Football? Missing you already!