Friday night marks the return of the Premier League for the 2022/23 season, a campaign which is set to be split by the World Cup and, thus, unlikely to follow the norms of what we’ve seen before.
It is only 69 days since the Champions League final was played out in Paris – a day fewer since the Championship play-off final – but the clubs and players are back in action already after the usual optimism-building ritual which is pre-season, played out against a backdrop of transfer rumours.
For those immersed in the football world though, it’s nowhere near even two months since the last meaningful kick of the ball: Euro 2022 was a raging success as a tournament all summer, regardless of nationality.
And the international calendar will take centre stage partway through this season, too, making the schedule even more packed and daunting looking than usual – so as viewers, fans and commenters, are we collectively ready for action, or still in recovery mode?
Here, The Independent’s sports desk writers give their take on whether they are raring to go…or if it’s all too much, too soon.
Mark Critchley: Following football as a fan and covering it as a journalist since the pandemic-enforced break in the middle of 2020 has basically meant coming to terms with the fact there is still, somehow, more football to be played somewhere. To be fair, we had about two weeks back there in June that were actually free of games. Otherwise it has been wall-to-wall since the end of the first lockdown. I’m not sure whether the Women’s Euro counted as the end of last season or the start of this one. All I know is that the Premier League starts today, the World Cup is in November this year, the Champions League final is on 10 June and until then, time is a flat circle.
Karl Matchett: It’s definitely a bit of both, depending on what you need to think or talk about at each moment of the day. For the twelve millionth season in a row I wish that the transfer window shut the day before the season started, but like many I’ve spoken to, the Lionesses’ magical run has whet the appetite for the day-to-day team to return and start winning games, creating massive atmospheres and sparking celebrations. The two-week break Mark mentions above was definitely needed, last season felt like it reached a total saturation point. But the opening weekend is always exciting with new faces, fans and formations and after purposely ignoring a lot of pre-season this time around, I’m ready to dive back in.
(The FA via Getty Images)
Alex Pattle: I suppose it’s hard not to be excited about the return of football when you’re as invested as sports journalists tend to be. That said, I definitely don’t feel as engaged as I do at this point of the season most years. For some time, I’ve been more interested in how the World Cup will fit into this season, so I’d imagine those butterflies will start to flutter in October – and it will likely be the same for many fans, too. In general, international football tournaments just feel so much grander than domestic one in my opinion. Through that lens, the Lionesses’ (very) recent triumph and the surreal joy it brought reminded me to look past any lethargy I’m feeling about the start of the new season.
Jamie Braidwood: The opening weekend of the Premier League season is without doubt one of the best of the year and remains the only occasion in which I’ll watch Match of the Day live and from start to end. Is it back too quickly? Well, leaving Wembley on Sunday following the Euro 2022 final felt like the closing chapter on the whole of the previous season of football, so the idea of heading to Selhurst Park tonight just five days later for the start of the next one feels a little daunting, as does a massive World Cup being dropped into our lives from November. It’s exciting though. There are loads of new faces at all the top clubs and I think it adds a level of intrigue that has been missing in recent years. That said, I am already exhausted by the hot takes. Just leave everyone alone until October.
(The FA via Getty Images)
Kieran Jackson: Quite often when the Premier League rolls around once again, in the midst of the cricketing summer and mid-20s sunshine, it is natural to think “off-season… what off-season?” Despite a full pre-season programme, this year more than most feels particularly early given the start date. Maybe it’s because last season’s finale was so action-packed, with quadruple-hunting Liverpool ultimately falling short. Maybe it’s because of the usual spate of fatigued post-season internationals which stretched the 2021/22 campaign into mid-June. Maybe it’s because a major England success story was merely five days ago. Needs must and all, with a World Cup slap bang in the middle, but the three-month onslaught of two-games-a-week which will greet us until Qatar means we’ll be more than ready for the four-matches-a-day Christmas party come November. Did you miss top-level football? Did it even go away…