Why I love Pre-Pre-Season

I love pre-season. Or even pre-pre-season. Those 1st couple of games against nobodies (although Lens were pretty handy and these MLS lads are well up for it too.) Those games against Thailand XI or Outer Mongolia XI, who it should be noted won last summer’s MONCACAF trophy by beating Inner Mongolia 0-0 (1-0 when it went to penalties) after both teams had qualified from their groups where they faced Upper and Lower Mongolia.

Yes, I love pre-pre-season not so much in spite of our transfer failings but almost because of them. Are you seriously telling me you will not enjoy the spectacle of Coquelin trying out at CB because all our CBs are dead? I’ll love every delicious moment of it.

And seeing Chris Willock, Jeff’s Runny Marmalade, Chubby Akpom, Gedion Shhh! frolicking like lambs around our midfield is priceless.

But there is no greater pleasure than seeing Santi Cazorla beating 7 stiffs single-handedly like Bruce Lee entering the house of a rival Kung Fu school to avenge the honour of his cousin’s neighbour’s cat’s babysitter who got cut off rudely in traffic 2 years before. (You can’t let these things pass or soon they’ll all be at it.)

The thing I hate about pre-pre-season is that every player gets 45 minutes, and then they get yanked, yet they all need more minutes. They need more. I need more. It’s just getting good, you’re watching an all new quite possibly never to be seen again assemblage of players – youth, experience, skill, brilliance – given acres of space by an accommodating group of foreign flunkies – in a whacky combination that could never work and yet…it is! It is working!!! And we are loading up the highlights reel…and the next thing it’s bloody halftime. And to make it worse, the new 2nd half lineup just doesn’t capture the same vibe and they play like they’re protecting a 1 goal lead in the dying seconds of the Champions League Final…for 45 minutes.

I keep praying they’ll invent the 180 minute game instead. Everybody gets to play for 90 minutes, then you swap out the sides and keep going for another 90 minutes. Admittedly Outer Mongolia might only have 13 players but fuck it, we’ll play both Mongolias, one in each 90 minutes.

Sure, I want to see us sign Suarez and Higuain and Reus and Draxler, just like you do. Well, one part of me does. But the other part of me wants to see what our collection of cast-offs, mis-fits, wannabes, unsellables and written-offs can do to overturn the odds, at least in pre-pre-season.

The part of me that enjoys our written-offs is probably the same part of me that loved watching Coronation Street. Let’s be honest, Coronation Street wasn’t great, was it? The service at the Rovers Return was stroppy, the pies must have been like soggy cardboard. That taxi service was retarded. And as for that car repair shop, they’d be handing back your Bentley in 20 plastic bags cos they couldn’t work out how to put it back together.

But I loved it. I never thought to complain that once again this year Coronation Street hadn’t shown any  ambition in the market by attempting to sign an Academy Award Winner, let alone a nominee. I didn’t go online to bitch about how once again we’d missed out on Kilmer after backing off him once Emmerdale Farm made their interest known. Nor the indignity of Aniston being quoted in the media as having “never heard” of us. It would be Kevin and Gayle in midfield again this year, and I was fine with that.

It was nice. We knew these people. They were a bit crap at acting, but they were ours. Having Sir Lawrence Olivier rock up at Roy’s Café to hand out the bacon butties would have been cool for a while but you know he was using poor old Roy as a stepping stone and he’d be off to play a priest on Mes Que Un Ristorante within a year or two for sure.

So while there’s one part of me that delights in us signing Xhaka as a prospective world class DM there is another part of me that is firmly rooting for Coqzorla to outplay him, for Iwobi and JRA to steal a starting spot and take us to new levels, for Jack and The Ox to finally fulfill their abundant potential, for Santi to show he’s still the wizard’s tits, and for Theo to recreate his 12/13 goals and assists magic.

In pre-pre-season, all that seems so possible.