After the purgatory of enduring 15 days with England in South Africa, it has been deemed that our souls are now cleansed and we are all allowed to start afresh and go back to the bosom we all know, our own club side. After witnessing our national side self destruct before our eyes, it worth considering how many times England have actually lived up to the hype in either the World Cup or European Championship and produced performances to remember.
Since the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the national side has played a total of 53 matches in the final stages of both tournaments. Arguably the team has only produced a decent performance on 9 occasions (v France '82, v Poland '86, v Holland and Germany '90, v Holland and Germany '96, v Argentina '98, v Argentina '02, v Croatia '04) This suggests there have been fundamental problems at the top table of English football longer than some critics will have you believe.
It was a strange World Cup, one which will be remembered for the achievements and fun off the pitch rather than on it. (I don't include James Cordan's 'World Cup Live!' in this assessment) One player who can hold his head is Rovers' very own Admiral Lord Ryan Nelsen. His performances for the All Whites were outstanding and this bodes well for the season ahead.
The dawn of the new campaign has thrown up the usual transfer speculation and provided us with journeys to stadiums we might not normally get the chance to visit. Yesterday was bizarre in that the club sent out two sides of similar ability to different places. One went to Southport and the other travelled to Fleetwood. It was a toss up as to where to support the club. In the end there were a couple of positive results with both sides seemingly adopting a 3-5-2 formation. Could this be a sign of things to come? The most attack minded and attractive side in the World Cup was Chile who enjoyed playing this system. I am not suggesting that Rovers have the flair and pace to match the South Americans but it is a positive start.
The rumour mill this Summer has thrown up names such as Raul and Guti who were apparently keen to wear the famous blue and white halves. It does appear though that the talking probably did not get any further than having a sangria and some tapas with Michel Salgado! What is transparent however is that Rovers will have to offload before aquring new talent. A striker, as Sam points out, is an essential acquisition for the squad but it appears that until the protracted take-over talks reach some definite conclusion, no big cheques will be signed. As for the speculation involving Phil Jones and Spurs, this is something we will have to get use to on a weekly basis if the young defender continues to produce performances as he did at the end of last term.
The fixture list was kind in that it has given us a home start, but against an Everton team, who were arguably the best side to grace Ewood last season. The most eagerly anticipated away fixture takes place in late September against Blackpool who we have not met competitively since 1980. With only 1500 tickets availiable, there is sure to be a scramble to make the short journey to the Fylde coast.
So the big kick-off is now less than a month away and there will be more Rovers talk and other observations here, in the days and weeks ahead.