By Jim Kostecki
It is an interesting time of year to be a European football fan. The excitement, drama, and in most cases the disappointment from the previous season has worn off. The Euro 2012 tournament is yesterday’s news. There is nothing to fill the empty void that the Premier League left on May 13, 2012. Nothing, that is, except to ponder the new season that lies ahead.
Someone once asked me, “when is there NOT soccer on?” Well, 1) right now, and 2) it’s football, not soccer. But my misguided and uneducated friend (not just about football, but most things in life) has a point. European football teams, especially top-tier clubs, face a grueling schedule that spans ten months and at times requires three games a week. Throw in the endless international friendlies and tournaments, and you’re talking about the best football players in the world playing in all twelve months, year after year.
The games, the friendlies and the tournaments – it’s not enough, not for the avid fan at least. We crave designating entire Saturdays to football matches, not to mention the juicy headlines that often spice up a season. July, however, means zero football, boring headlines, and minimal transfer activity – the “Dead Zone” as I like to call it. I often have to force myself not to read the transfer rumors that seem to congeal from a rain gutter, and then disappear as mysteriously as they arrived. “Manchester City contemplate Skrtel bid” or “Pep Guardiola would consider offers” are just a few examples that would only make sense in video games. Am I the only one who wants to throw their FIFA and Xbox out the window screaming, “how did the Daily Mirror find out I rejected a bid for Skrtel from Manchester City?!?”
Where does this leave us? I have no choice but to dwell on the season that lies ahead. A new manager, the return of Lucas, and an improving Andy Carroll could make the mouth of any Liverpool fan drool. But it doesn’t help. We’ve all been down this road before, “focus on the positives and forget about last season’s negatives,” we tell ourselves. Could you even imagine losing the first game of the season to Steve Clarke’s West Brom? The irony would give me a heart attack. Sure, what a great win that would be for Clarke – but really? Is that what we want? No. Of course not.
I am not a pessimist. I am a dreamer. I ride the emotional roller-coaster, as a close friend of mine once observed. I work myself up only to bring myself down. I obsess about the trophies and agonize over the worst-case scenarios. The “Dead Zone” only intensifies these emotions. I have true and sincere hope for the 2012/13 campaign for Liverpool – but that can change in a heartbeat.
At least I have the Fenway game to look forward to…
Follow Jim Kostecki on twitter @ jim_kostecki