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It only seems a few short months ago it all began.
Yet here we are contemplating the end of the season.
The final home game is upon us and how we've turned matters around following those opening league games at Goodison? The campaign seems to have flown by - but maybe that's because it's got so much better as it's progressed!
I for one could not have envisaged our season continuing beyond the final league game! An FA Cup final wasn't quite on my agenda!
Thankfully, though, I hadn't done my usual trick of booking my holidays for the end of May. I must have had some inner belief and persuaded my wife to put any hols and thoughts of sunshine breaks on hold! Basically, there's a two month window from the end of the season until it all kicks off again in August to fit some sort of break in!
I don't know about you but it always feels really strange to me once the season comes to a close. I'm really looking forward to a break but I know, as is the case every year, that within a matter of a couple of weeks I can't wait for the new football season to begin.
The break is a little shorter this year too so the new campaign will soon come round. However, every couple of years there's a major international tournament during the early summer months to ensure you get your fix of football. Not this year.
I think I might be climbing the walls in despair by the time we get to the end of June! By that time, of course, the new fixtures will be out for next season and the debate will already be under way regarding how we'll fare in the opening months!
I know we get virtually wall-to-wall football on television nowadays so there shouldn't be a problem in satisfying even the most ardent football fan's appetite. But friendlies simply don't do it for me.
It has to be serious, competitive football. We get all sorts of pre-season tournaments covered on TV now but I just can't get myself excited by those. Let's face it, pre-season is a time to ensure fitness levels are where they should be, the result of a friendly is neither here nor there. Yet so many people appear to hang their hat on it in the modern game. Honestly, it doesn't matter!!
Pre-season is simply about gaining match practice, attaining peak fitness, working together and understanding one another (new players etc). Far too often I hear people seriously concerned about the fact their team has lost to Accrington Stanley reserves, for example, in late June/early July.
"It doesn't look good for the new season, if we can't beat that lot" Are they for real?? Since when has a team's pre-season results had any bearing on the real thing come mid-August. It's competition that matters and I suspect all the players know that too, hence commitment, effort, and desire become much more prevalent when it's for real.
Anyway, off my high horse now - I feel I'm jumping a little ahead of myself given that we've three games still to play!
One is our biggest game in 14 years and our first chance of a trophy since then. That's not to say we should relax in our final two league games though.
We need to be at our very best for the big one and we can only achieve that by maintaining form and fitness. David Moyes certainly won't allow anyone to go through the motions ahead of the Cup final. Although our squad is small and further curtailed by injuries, players could still be in danger of losing their place for what (for many) will be the biggest day of their careers.
I'm looking forward to our final home game of the campaign against West Ham, a side we invariably do well against at Goodison. Hopefully it'll be a full house and we can give the lads the send off they deserve. Remember all was not particularly rosy in the Goodison garden back in August/September time but the team has blossomed and hope springs eternal!!
It could well be a wonderful summer after all!!
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