By Cory Varney
I’ll set the scene for you. It’s August 2009. Norwich had just toppled Wigan Athletic at Carrow Road, which capped an unbeaten pre-season. We’d won 6 of our 7 games.
I recall being excited about the signings of both Goran Maric and Simon Whaley. In Whaley, I thought we’d filled that Darren Huckerby void. A blasphemous sentiment, I’m all too aware. But regardless, I was living in Switzerland at the time and looking forward to trekking back to the UK for the opening day visit of Colchester United.
I was struggling not to be optimistic. After the disappointment of relegation to the third tier, it seemed pretty inevitable we weren’t going to come along and take to League One like a duck to water.
I was sure we were about to take it by storm, before triumphantly returning to the Championship.
In fairness, we eventually did that and then some, but still…
Norwich City 1. Colchester United 7 (SEVEN).
What did I learn? You can’t read anything whatsoever into pre-season.
The most interesting part of pre-season, the bit you can actually read into things, are Alex Neil’s post-match comments. Are we getting anywhere with transfers? Who might be on their way out? Who is injured? Who’s in the thinking for a first team spot? Which younger players are in with a chance of forcing their way through? Those sorts of things. They give us an indication of what the season ahead may hold.
3-1 defeats to Czech sides with what’s not a first choice eleven certainly don’t. Why on earth would you then go and exert energy fretting about the most meaningless of games?
Last time we were in the Championship, we had a productive pre-season. A 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo and a 5-1 triumph over Nice concluded things, though we then went on and lost our first game of the season.
Having said that, things went pretty well after that but the point is, though, the only purpose of pre-season is to get the boys fit, in shape and ready to go for that opening day of the season.
Alongside the shenanigans of friendly matches, we’ve got the tedious transfer circus rolling into town.
Ross McCormack is the current man in place dividing opinion and causing mass panic. He’s too old. He’s too expensive. Ricky should play instead – I’ve actually come across that one. We should sign Assombalonga instead.
In fairness, thanks to social media and Sky Sports, transfers have now become a daily case of will they, won’t they often growing very tedious, very fast. You also have the ITK accounts pop up like fireworks across a November night’s sky, with the vast, vast majority completely full of rubbish.
It’s a rotten egg dumped on top of a less than satisfying recipe we chomp on each summer.
The transfer ‘fun’ will stretch on in the weeks to come, but thankfully we’ve almost got some competitive football to stick our teeth into.
Have I learned anything from pre-season so far? No.
Saturday’s team to face Hannover may give us an indication of who will face Blackburn, but all in all, the first 10 or so games of the season will show us just how up for the fight this City side are and what the season may hold for us.