Date:Sunday July 29 2007
2 weeks today the next Premiership season kicks off.
Soon O'Neill will have been manager for a full 12 month period.
Soon will come the day the rhetoric needs to stop, the jam tomorrow promises will count for nothing and the transfer window will have closed.
No longer will the desperate have chance to suggest, promoted I'd guess by the lack of signings, that an injury prone fullback many nicknamed sicknote and a prime boo boy candidate is suddenly the best fullback in the country, or that O'Neill a man renowned for his tight defensive ideals will adopt a 352 tactic.
No the tick tock of the transfer window has just moved into that period O'Neill had last season when he managed to bring in Petrov, who according to his manager, had still not acclimatised by the season end.
As O'Neill commented the first team is an improvement on that at most times selected last year, without question its hugely more talented than the first side he picked.
Hopefully enough has been learnt to have acclimatised those who joined after O'Neill for them to continue firing well from day 1.
Hopefully if he does nothing else in this window he gets a right back of undisputed talent able to play adequately well even if not adjusted
Then any other 'talent' he may find by the window's close and we need several whether they be serious buys or loans deals, will have the season to adjust to be just adequate cover if not serious talent to grow the squad onwards at the rate I'd come to expect and not just hope for.
Its not the way I would have done it, its not the way I expected it to be done, its not in my view the way any Premiership manager wishing to keep up with let alone progress beyond his competition should be doing it.
It is however, a means to achieving consolidation without the taking of any risk.
Come Liverpool we have, a right back permitting, a team capable of giving an account of itself.
Unlike many a pre season in the past, the signings of January mean the side, assuming full adjustment, is one able to give a decent account of itself against any opposition, especially if O'Neill chooses his more negative defensive tactics that gave us so many draws last season.
As with many a pre season in the past the present paucity of players ensures that come injuries, suspensions, and players form fluctuations, the pack of cards will come tumbling down just as they have in so many, many seasons before.
O'Neill knows this, O'Neill will address this, have no fear.
As the squad stands today, I go into the season without much expectation, but little fear.
What happens between now and August 31 is all about how big my expectation will become. A man named Villa would solve that problem too overnight.
Martin O'Neill has handled the transfer window abysmally but no different to how I'd expected, whether he can now deliver as he should, or just as his past record suggests he will, is down to him and the limitations on him.
He's not the sort of manager you bet against, so hope remains eternal, until August 31 at least.
Date:Sunday July 29 2007
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