Chris Holt Column: Don’t believe the hype...football generates its own

by Pete McKee
by Pete McKee
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For a football fan it’s the best part of the season - that one moment where, no matter who you support, there’s an emotional bond with everyone around the country, regardless of the colour of their scarf.

During that split-second, just before the referee blows the whistle to kick off the new campaign, we’re all equal; each person following the games are united by the same feelings. Of hope and expectation and ‘what ifs’ and belief and inexplicably over-ambitious dreams of a glory-filled season.

Nigel Adkins

Nigel Adkins

From then, anything could happen...you go a goal up in the early stages and suddenly it’s nailed on, you’re going to win the league.

Or, you go a goal down thanks to a debatable decision and the natural, default setting for the average supporter kicks in...it’s going to be one of those years.

But the opening day of the season is what makes football great. You don’t need a bedraggled reporter trying to interview someone of note at a club, fully-clothed in an ice bath, or rustling up an omelette or have their back waxed!

The season’s start doesn’t need additional hype, it generates its own and begins almost as soon as the curtain comes down on the previous one.

Ross Wallace

Ross Wallace

And that hype intensifies throughout the summer with the addition of a new manager or new signings or even a new scoreboard.

In Sheffield this summer, positivity is pouring over every hill.

For those in red and white that’s helped significantly by the forever-smiling presence of a new boss in Nigel Adkins.

The former Scunthorpe, Southampton and Reading chief has been at the helm at Bramall Lane for a couple of months now and since getting his feet under the table, Adkins has almost single-handledly drowned the negativity that engulfed S2 after last season’s play off failure.

He has promised fans they will witness an attractive side this season; all-action, swashbuckling and attack-minded.

So far this pre-season he has been true to his word, with United looking impressive at times, not just against lower-level opposition but also in taking on Premier League Newcastle United and Championship side Hull City, who have just dropped out of the top flight.

Central to this forward-thinking approach, one that fans felt was sadly lacking in last season’s stumble to the top six, has been the pre-season form of Che Adams.

The youngster, who was last season offered somewhat limited opportunity to show off his obvious talent, is rapidly building a reputation that could see the teenager play at the very highest level.

And the prospect of a partnership alongside new signing and homecoming hero Billy Sharp - not to mention the likes of Marc McNulty, the albeit currently injured Matt Done, Marc McNultyanother new-boy Conor Sammon and Michael Higdon - is enough to have Blades believing that their overly-prolonged stay in League One could be about to come to an end.

While United fans are looking towards the Championship - in the short term at least - in the blue corner, Owls fans’ ambitions have been heightened too.

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri outlines a plan to take the club to the Premier League in a couple of years.

So far he’s at least put his hand in his pocket with money flying out of Hillsborough at a degree not seen for about two decades.

Some signings are well-known; Ross Wallace for example, is a very solid Championship player and in my opinion could prove to be the Owls’ best buy this season, while Lewis McGugan’s return has been rightly well-received.

Others such as Marco Matias, Alex Lopez and Lucas Joao are unknown to most and it’s far to early to know how they will adapt to the cut and thrust of one of the toughest divisions in European football .

The one thing you can say, though, is that this squad is better than last season’s, which finished 13th.

Making up seven places to at least pick up a position in the play offs is a tough proposition, but it’s not unreasonable to think an improvement and a spot just on the edge of that shouldn’t be gained.

Then watch the hype really kick in next year.