I’m sticking to my theory that it’s better to leave your pre-season review until a couple of weeks in and no doubt I’ll be regaling you some time around the end of the month with my thoughts and feelings about how things might pan out. Of course, it’s cheating but I have the privilege of making my own rules on that sort of thing around here. Still it makes it that bit harder to preview the opening game of the season.
Or does it?
Which ever way you want to approach it. There’s a great deal of uncertainty about the trip to Aston Villa, just as there is for the season as a whole. How will we cope without our midfield lynchpin, will total football, Martinez style, work in the big, bad world and for starters, who’s going to be turning out.
You can pick the keeper and back four easily, Rodallega probably takes the sharp end, but inbetween? I don’t know, you don’t know, but let’s hope Bobby does.
This is where the timing of Cattermole’s departure has really hurt us. Put him in there alongside any of the others and you’d have some confidence, you know what he can do, you know what he’s capable of. What we’re left with is a steady, slow and unimaginative stalwart and Paul Scharner.
Thankfully, whilst you wouldn’t want to base a season on the Brown and the Austrian, they’re probably enough to stop any potential embarrassments at Villa Park, the rest will come, or it won’t. Let’s assume that the missing three are N’Zogbia, Gomez and Koumas, there’s plenty of promise there and if we can get some indications of its fulfilment then great, if not, then it’s far from time to panic.
After all, Villa are a good side, good enough to be playing European football and good enough to do well at it n’all. Whilst the thought of people kicking a ball to people in the same coloured shirt might be alien in this country, it’s not quite the same in Europe. Regardless of how Latics play, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to them.
So we’re back on level ground and picking a result on the quality of the teams. My brain tells me a Villa win, but my gut says that we could see a reaction to the last few days’ events and an early surge from Latics, a good start, a goal, maybe two but with Villa coming back later on.
A short preview, I know, but it just reflects my general uncertainty, hopefully there will be plenty more to write about in the match report, and good stuff at that.
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