Alex Chick

It’s Christmas morning for football fans

Alex Chick

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It's Christmas morning for football fans.

From wide-eyed kids to hard-bitten hacks, we've all got that giddy feeling of anticipation as we prepare to tear into our presents.

Inside the stocking marked 'Premier League 2013/14' are 380 little gifts. And as with Christmas, it's almost more fun to think about what they might be than to rip open the wrapping paper to discover yet another pair of grey socks (this increasingly tortured metaphor's version of Fulham 0-0 Stoke).

Look, the Premier League has its bad points.

It rarely lives up to the hype; it's amoral at best, immoral at worst; it rips off fans; it whips adults who should know better into a terrifying frenzy of anger and irrationality.

And yet the fact that so many people invest such massive emotional and physical supplies only really goes to show just how much we love it.

The Football League has much to admire, while the continent's top teams take the game to new levels of technical sophistication.

But the argument for the Premier League (at least on these shores) isn't that it's the best in the world.

In Penzance, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all points between, it's just our football. The everyday, ubiquitous staple of our sporting lives.

Debating about whose league is best is like arguing over your favourite currency. The Premier League, like the pound, is just what we've got.

And, for all its faults, it's pretty entertaining.

It's customary to load season previews full of entirely speculative forecasts (we have done so - both seriously and less so), but the whole point on the opening weekend is that nobody knows what is going to happen.

Sure, you can have a hunch that Roberto Soldado is going to score 25 goals, that Paolo Di Canio will be out by Christmas, or that Jose Mourinho will install a full-length mirror into the Stamford Bridge dugout - but we just don't know.

And with new managers at each of last season's top three, there's even more not to know than usual.

Can David Moyes keep Manchester United on track, or is he Wilf McGuinness to Fergie's Matt Busby?

Is Manuel Pellegrini the man to bring holistic football to Eastlands? Is Jose still special or just a bit of a narky gobshite?

All will be revealed. Not by Monday, when everyone jumps to ludicrously hasty conclusions in thos 'Five things we learned' articles. But by May, perhaps.

And yet, leaping to hasty judgement is all part of the fun. Today, the opinions will start to fly like machine-gun fire across the airwaves, Twitter and - who knows - maybe even the odd face-to-face conversation.

This season, instead of bemoaning the lack of goalline technology, we can look forward instead to whingeing about how awful it is.

We can foam at the mouth in mock outrage at horror tackles, Twitter rants and footballers lying in piles of money while privately loving every minute of it.

Above all, from a personal point of view, the Premier League provides a rhythm to life. I can't be the only one who feels slightly disorientated, a bit lost, during the summer. How do I know it's the weekend when there's no football on?

The football calendar provides a sort of framework to the lives of saddoes like me.

The Premier League - it's flawed, it's frustrating, it's fantastic.

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