Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Big Kick-off Approaches

Here we go again…

I have said it before and I will say it again: at least it is never boring being a Saints fan. With just over an hour to go until Saints kick-off the new campaign at Cardiff, fans of SFC find themselves heading into one of their most unpredictable seasons in living memory. Who is to know how Jan Poortvliet will fare in his first season in English football? Is it possible to play beautiful football and succeed in the Championship? Will Rupert’s brood of academy youth be strong enough to thrive it in the second tier of English football? It is questions such as these that have stumped the bookies and pundits that are usually so pleased to throw strident opinions around during pre-season. There seems to be a vague consensus that Saints are more likely to be relegated than promoted this term, particularly if the newspapers belonging to the Murdoch empire are to be believed. I don’t know if Rupert Murdoch has anything personal against Saints (he probably has something against his namesake Lowe- most do) but the News of the World predicts a Saints finish of 23rd, while the Sunday Times has the Saints escape relegation at a highly unrespectable 21st.

Worryingly, you can see where they are coming from. How ever much talk of a “Dutch Revolution” is bandied around, one cannot escape from the reality that Saints will largely be relying upon unblooded youth this year. However, it is equally true (and equally surprising) that something of a feelgood factor exists going into today’s first match. Despite the return of the hated Rupert Lowe and the lack of a pre-season win against league opposition, there is a sense that, with a little bit of luck, this could be a good season for Saints. I haven’t the smallest doubt that this will be proved hopelessly optimistic as our bruised and battered flock of youngsters are dragged into another relegation dog-fight, But with Saints, you never know.

After all, who could have predicted this close season? Changes both in the boardroom and the dugout, a footballing revolution on the pitch and an astonishing return to fitness for Michael Svensson- the latter dubbed the “Greatest Comeback since Lazarus” by the irrepressible Daily Echo. While goings on at St Marys continue to prove as idiosyncratic as Daily Echo headlines, the coming season promises to be another rollercoaster ride for Saints fans. Still, at least it won’t be boring…

Good Luck Saints

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Which team will fill the third relegation spot?

Four games left. Will Saints survive?

Would you be in favour of a return for Rupert?