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Football is back…

August 10, 2010

Competitive football: welcome back - BBC

…football is back, whoa-oh whoa-oh etc.

A four-week gap straddled by the World Cup final and the opening weekend of the league season is just about right. Slightly longer might be preferable if England had better opponents in the cricket, but they do not, and so it is with delight we welcome the start of the domestic footballing calendar.

The season started with a feast of football league action on Sky Sports, with an inconveniently-scheduled Friday night game and a pleasing Saturday lunchtime clash. League One champions (they have a snazzy gold badge on their sleeves to prove it) Norwich defended like they’d never been away from the Championship, conceding goals against Watford like it was going out of fashion. Back in 2009 a combination of Glenn Roeder, Bryan Gunn, and an atrocious defence saw them relegated. Under Paul Lambert they impressed last time though, and most pundits seem to fancy them for mid-table this term, which seems reasonable. Watford have been tipped to struggle but looked the better side as they emerged from Norfolk with a 3-2 win.

Southampton fans observed the now obligatory custom of booing your side off after a home defeat, even though they played quite well and could easily have scored a few before half time. Crosses into the box were dangerous but well defended by Peter Reid’s Plymouth side, who then struck early in the second half and held out well for a one-goal win. Alan Pardew is expected, it seems, to take Southampton up this season; it’s a shame the supporters didn’t think much of the entertaining side he’s assembled.

After the 3pms a second dose of Championship football was available on the BBC. Leeds v Derby was a very enjoyable match, featuring a superb performance from Leeds’ Kasper Schmeichel that was not enough to stop them losing 2-1. Rob Hulse’s opener was cancelled out by Leeds striker Luciano Becchio after smart play from the excellent Jonny Howson, and a good decision from the ref allowed Kris Commons to score the winner from the penalty spot.

England fans show their class - BBC

Sunday’s games, too, were enjoyable: Cardiff and Sheffield United drew one apiece and Manchester United beat Chelsea in the world’s most glorified pre-season friendly.

And the matches just keep on coming. The League Cup is underway and – to return to the theme of fans getting behind their team – tomorrow England play for the first time since their 4-1 defeat to Germany at the end of June. Mystifyingly the pre-match coverage suggests they will be booed by their own fans – obviously nothing new to anyone who’s played for the national team in the past, but are people really going to pay money to watch a friendly then boo their team? Surely not. God help Gerrard and co if it’s a repeat of 1953.

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