Football. Football. Football. Oh how I have missed the weekly heartache, the drama, the nonsense, the camaraderie and of course penning these words to you, my dear reader.
The summer itself has been pretty bare of alternative sporting entertainment. Cricket has given us some cheer, specifically the wondrous Women’s World Cup victory at Lords last week. The meaningless Confederations Cup passed me by with little more than a whimper.
Wimbledon was conveniently moved to not clash with Glastonbury this year, which was a welcome change until I truly tested the boundaries of how much mixed doubles tennis one man can actually watch.
So, in short: it has been a long time coming. Silly season is currently underway in the major leagues across Europe, where seemingly average players are being transferred for way above average sums. Bristol City fans, of course, remain on high alert with prospective comings and goings almost certainly on the cards between now and the closing of the window.
As a teenager growing up in this beloved city of mine, I took to supplementing my measly pocket money by getting a paper round. Said paper round was delivering our local daily rag, The Evening Post, and the paper furnished me with a daily Bristol City story all year round, regardless of how much news there was to report on.
Needless to say the summer months were slim pickings, but I would still dutifully read the story about my team each and every day as I pounded the streets delivering the papers. This, coupled with the local football Ceefax page that somehow managed to be several days behind the news consistently, gave me my window into the goings on at Ashton Gate.
Fast-forward twenty odd years and the mediums available to the local football fan seems endless, but, are we now any better informed than those heady days of the mid 90s? In my view, no.
I, like football fans across the country I’m sure, have wasted hour-upon-hour this summer across social media and various fan sites, essentially learning next-to-nothing at all about the fate of my team.
So, what have I learnt from my hours wasted?
Aden Flint liked a tweet saying he would be a good addition to Leeds United. From this single click of button, bored and crazed social media followers managed to fuel pages and pages of hearsay and waffle.
We might be buying a winger from a Norwegian club, but on the other hand, we very well might not.
Far from me to comment on the journalistic prowess of the the local paper discussed above, but, I would say that their supposed transfer stories show little more inside knowledge than those following the gossip pages online.
Given this, I think it would be prudent to deal in facts for a bit. We have, at time of writing at least, currently signed two players so far this season, both of whom seem promising. The first was a much-needed right-back.
Eros Pisano joins from Serie A side Verona, and at 30 gives the squad some welcome experience. I know this is somewhat stereotypical but I am completely down with signing Italian defenders. Let’s hope he lives up to the billing.
Our second signing has somehow, and quite remarkably, gone under the radar a little. I say remarkably, as Famara Diedhiou joined us as the club’s record signing, at an eye-watering £5.3m.
On the face of it, he looks a good acquisition: he’s big, strong, aggressive, and looks like the ideal candidate to lead our line this season. He has pretty big shoes to fill; City, of course, had the goals of Tammy Abraham to thank for our Championship survival last season, and Jonathan Kodjia’s the year before.
So, what might happen transfer-wise between now and the end of August? First and foremost, it would be great to see no one leave. One would imagine rumours will continue to circulate around the likes of Flint and Bryan.
I would argue, controversially perhaps, that the latter would be more of a loss given our lack of cover in the left back position. Comparatively, I feel centre-back is one of the positions we look reasonably well off for. That said, the loss of Flint would be a real blow.
Tomlin left, as expected. I for one didn’t shed a tear at his departure. Much was made as to where he ended up, but I think City should be applauded for recouping the money for a player who had become something of a liability in recent months.
It is worth noting that City’s form towards the end of the season was achieved pretty much without Tomlin’s contribution. I wish him well but fear his career will continue stagnate, given his shortcomings as both a player and a professional.
I would suggest City need a few additions, contrary to a worrying interview Johnson gave a few weeks ago. Top of my wish list would be a new keeper to challenge Frankie. Some more natural width within the squad also wouldn’t go a miss either: maybe in the shape of a right winger.
To anyone who can’t quite wait for the season to start in earnest, I’ll see you at the FC Twente friendly on Friday night. The game will probably be a dull affair, where many in attendance will wish they hadn’t bothered, but, year-after-year, we all make the mistake of attending pre-season friendlies. Why change the habit of a lifetime?
Read more: ‘Thank you, Tammy’