WELL thank God that long dark empty purgatory is over.
We’ve just endured a cold dark soulless spell of glazed over inactivity. Laptop screens remain defiantly unrefreshed. Tumbleweed has rolled lazily through the twittersphere.
Even the ‘Sky Sports Sources understand…” tedious tape loop yellow ticker tape of tittle-tattle was yawning with luke-warm indifference as it tried to create a froth of substance over the results of meaningless games in far-flung countries between teams you know little of and care even less. It was like the cricket season.
I hate international breaks. Really hate them. Especially at this stage of the season. What kind of heartless Philistine does that? It is football’s coitus interruptus. For FIFA, UEFA and the FA to suddenly hit the pause button on campaigns in full flow right across Planet Football and just set to come to a climax is a cruel cold water intervention.
And just to stage cynical cash-cow friendlies and matches in a bloated two year cycle that could easily be played in the summer? To do this just as domestic football is coming to a pivotal point? To risk injuries and loss of momentum after a year of hard-work for a lop-sided, unrepresentative exhibition kick-about? That is stupid and shows the contempt these people hold club football in. And, outside three weeks every other summer, club football is everything.
Anyway, Boro are back with a bang and need to get swiftly back into their rhythm in a crazy cut-throat high-stakes Championship chase that is now at point of no-return
Two games in four days over the Easter weekend will shape the mood music going into the final movement. Two wins and a symphonic season will be set to finish with a flourish and a dramatic sonic boom. There will be sunshine smiles across Teesside, we will be dancing Willy’s Reggae in the streets and work will begin sawing the top off the O bus.
A mixed bag – three or four points say – may leave Boro still well placed but vulnerable to rivals’ results elsewhere and the unfolding landscape will be uncertain and scary and the nerve-shredding tourniquet tension will tighten another notch leaving fraught fans fearing the wheel-nuts will go flying in the fixtures to come.
A poor return from these fixtures – two points say, or one or *gulp*… a poor return, will spark bitter civil unrest, there will a ra-ra cull in terse told-you-so cyber drive-bys and ugly recriminations across all mediums. Even if the maths are inconclusive and Boro still have a beacon of hope. But let’s not go there.
We’ve had a few weeks off to regroup, recharge our batteries and refocus on the physical, mental and emotional challenges to come in seven cataclysmic cup finals. The players have had a break too. Some of them.
This season is going down to the wire and it will be a psychological assault course. It is the first promotion campaign for almost 20 years. It will be a draining, adrenaline splashed inside-out, upside down, 360 degree roller-coaster ride that will leave us weak-kneed and slightly nauseous. And then we’ll laugh hysterically at the end. Let’s enjoy it.