Welcome home. well I don’t know about home but definitely welcome back. 18 odd months since my last attendance at a live football match, Monday evening was a time to see if it was all worth it. It also means these missives should be more regular. Hard to report on something that you watched on the TV.
I’ll be honest, after nearly 35 years of continuous attendance, a season off actually worked well for me, and it was good to do other things at the weekends. Like watch West Ham on the telly !
So last season was beyond all expectation and with little or no change to the team we started this year beating a team that beat us twice last year, and winning away, and winning our first game of the season for a few years.
However, our opponents today had beaten Man City in the FA Cup final, and the Charity Shield and just missed out on top four (as did we, grrrr) . But in our favour was the fact that last time we played them we, destroyed them at their own ground.
Getting in was an absolute shambles, one it appears shared by a few other clubs this season. We have moved to digital tickets. Taking away the accessibility issue of this, that should not be too difficult a transition, with options to print, etc. But also asking people who are not qualified to verify COVID staus was always going to be ridiculous. What if I show them someone else’s status, or show them mine in my digital wallet, but the date validation data has past. Are they really going to spend all that time with each supporter, while queues were getting somewhat silly . I queued nearly 30 minutes to get in. Due to it being the first game, most people were OK with this. I imagine in December with some rain flying about, this will not be sustainable in any way. I understand Spurs have already announced “random” checks to speed this up. Not to mention that this was to “keep us safe”. I can honestly say that since March 2020, that was the tightest crowd of non masked individuals I had spent my time with . Sort of defeats the point.
Also there is a safety issue. The queues were out to the edge of the concourse all round the ground , meaning you had to push through other queues to get to your own. With people waiting up to 40 minutes to get in they were getting concerned about other people pushing in and there we have the issue. Tempers can flare easily in these situations, and I think being the first game, probably kept a lid on this. Once again, a league cup game in late October may have a different outcome.
The game itself was different entirely. We dominated from start to finish, and the score reflected that. Yes they had someone sent off (VAR actually being used properly, eg for catching a clear and obvious refereeing error), but in reality we were by far the better team.
The atmosphere was almost Upton Park ish, but maybe that’s what happens when you haven’t been to a game for 18 months ! Even the stadium announcer got in on the act singing the Antonio song, when he broke Di Canio’s record for most Premier League goals. That said, I would still prefer a real striker, who can complement our fantastic attacking force. One injury blows that all up, and backup is essential.
If we manage to secure a striker, Lingard and Zouma before the 1st Sept, I will be a happy boy, but we know how that goes over here. The board over promise and deliver nothing. We are still crowing about signing Dawson as a new signing, despite him being on loan all last season.
Palace up next and we should remain top of the pile going into the break. No complaints with that.
MOTM: Fornals. The fella just holds everything together and has been rewarded by getting called up for Spain in the upcoming break. Well played Senor.