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Football: A Game Of Attrition?

Felix writes how he feels that the season seems to have come round a little too quickly.

Swindon Town v Reading - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

You know that moment. You're maybe twelve years old and it's the end of August. You're going to visit an aunt or a grandparent, or maybe an older family friend. The comment is made, 'Been off for a whole month? Blimey, you must actually be looking forward to going back to school!'

Now, I enjoyed school, most of the time it was something that I liked having as part of my life. This statement, though, was never true. Sure, I enjoyed catching up with those I'd not seen when we reconvened in September, but however bored I got on particular days or got miserable at the endless stream of rubbish weather, why would I have wanted the long, lazy days to end? Any of those days could have been spent in Shakeaway or playing football with my mates on Christchurch Meadow, as opposed to musing on algebra or adjectives.

Eventually, of course, I would have got bored and longed for a bit more structure, but the summer always seemed to go too fast.

And so it is, as the start of the season beckons, that I can scarcely believe it is already here. It is with a certain amount of weariness that I set my sights on the fake hoops today.

There are mitigating factors of course. It is a World Cup year, so not only does it make the season seem really long, it means everything starts that bit earlier. Moreover, we had a very late end to our season. That is, of course, also coupled with a certain emotional hangover and fatigue from that day in North London.

Wall to wall football is something that I've never quite got used to, but is somehow unavoidable. Do I care about the Audi Cup? Nope. Do I still inexplicably know what happened? Yep.

I normally don't mind the Confederations Cup. It's always fun to watch the team from Oceania have a pop at the big boys, but this time around, it just seemed like a money-spinner and I didn't watch any of it. Maybe the World Cup being in Russia is something to do with it.

Even the England Women's team brilliant run in the Euros, including Reading players, has failed to get me that excited, though their opening performance was mighty enjoyable.

Essentially, bar following Reading's transfer dealings, still assuming Neymar's transfer is taking so long because everyone’s waiting for a late swoop from Brian, I've found myself actively trying to avoid the beautiful game. I've done this because I've been attempting to give myself enough of a break to treat this season as a new, shiny season as opposed to the continuing of a never ending trudge of football, which it seems to be.

Now, I know there's some people who like it, but I just find it dilutes the enjoyment. We all love a trip to the chippy, or the local Indian, but we don't do it every day. Partly because we'd all be dead pretty soon, but partly because it would be boring. It certainly doesn't feel like there's been any gap between the end of the season and the start of this one, because it never stops.

I really think a proper summer break would get me much more excited for football to come back. Playing 46+ games is always going to be a long haul, but the incessant summer coverage, exacerbated by obscene developments such as Neymar's transfer, where clubs can spend tens or hundreds of millions on players, but not lower the cost of tickets by a couple of quid, well, it wears you down.

I realise none of this particularly new ground, I have just had a stronger feeling than normal about it this summer.

What this all does is make me increasingly Reading-centric in my consumption, and I really would rather be a Reading fan and a general football fan as well.

So, am I ready for today? Well, thanks to the new found purpose Jaap has given us, yes, I am. Can't wait for Jon the Dad Bod to turn it on for us, but everything else might have to wait a little while (but yes, I have done my fantasy team, and yes, I did take a punt on Lacazette).

So, I wonder if in the same way that it was great to meet up with everyone back on the first day at school because it had been a good while away, wouldn't it be better if every few years, football had a proper hiatus of three or four months? Everyone could be properly refreshed, including the players. Transfers could be done and dusted before the start of the season. It could even open the way for a proper go at a winter break and playing twice a week in an accepted rhythm every week, instead of having managers moaning about congestion when they've got to play five games in eight days or whatever. Most of all though, I firmly believe the quality would go up. Words like attrition could be replaced with brilliance a little more frequently.

Bring it on then. I'm excited to see what the Royals can do this year, even if May seems forever away, and we all know we're going to have England being disappointing to finish up anyway.

I just wish it felt like a football season and not a football year.