Many of you have been waiting for this weekend for a couple of months or more, but not me !
I have enjoyed watching live and on television England's youth teams do particularly well from The South of France to Croatia, Georgia and South Korea winning World and European tournaments or doing very well without a title. Also watching The Three Lionesses at the 2017 EUROS in The Netherlands, until outclassed using the long ball in the semi-finals. For some of you those money making so called tournaments with big ticket prices in USA and elsewhere have excited you, but not yours truly.
The best ever IAAF Athletics Championships just concluded at The London Stadium with record ticket sales and a packed stadium even for the morning sessions. Medals were awarded to athletes from 66 nations, including Moldova, Grenada, Tajikistan, Eritrea, Tanzania, Burundi, Lithuania, Bahamas, Colombia with the USA topping the medal count followed by Kenya. Two years later the event will be in Doha in front of half empty stadiums and spectators will little passion or interest. Some great performances in London. One of my favourites was the gold medal to Norway in one of the most punishing events, the 400 metre men's hurdles. Karsten Warholm was the suprise winner who made a face like The Scream, the famous painting by Edvard Munch, now in the National gallery in Oslo.
For the first time the 25th English Premier League started with a BIG BANG on a Friday night at The Emirates with a 4-3 late win and three points for The Gunners at home to Leicester City, champions two seasons ago. What a match !!.
On Saturday we had some other surprises.Chelsea losing at home 3-2 to Burnley, after an early red card and at one time being 3-0 . down. Burnley only won ONE away match all last season. By Saturday evening new boys Huddersfield Town, 'Yorkshire's Club', found themselves top of the league after a 3-0 thrashing away to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
My favourite was Everton's 1-0 win over Stoke City at Goodison Park. What a return for local boy Wayne Rooney who was taken to his first match watching The People's Club in the Gwladys Street End at 6 months old. I watched my first Everton match in the same stand at the same stadium age about 20, the very first time I had paid to sit down at a match in England.. 6 shillings. He scored on his return in the 45th minute and looked like a boy again with exuberance and desire as he headed home.
I was at Elland Road with 33,000 fans as a new manager and new owner who bought back the stadium, as they entertained Preston North End on a sunny afternoon. The visitors only took up half of their allocation in the John Charles West Stand with exorbitant prices of £40 and more for visitors. Terrible. Despite playing the last 10 minutes with 10 men Alex Neil, who replaced Simon Grayson on July 4th must be proud of the 0-0 draw in such circumstances.
The new manager of United is Danish born Spaniard Thomas Christiansen,who has recently coached in the Cypriot League. He must be very disappointed with only one point, with Chris Wood, the Kiwi striker, going close twice. The club recently turned down a £12 million bid from Burnley and another £17 million offer from another unnamed Premier League club in the last week.
On Sunday we witnessed the new REAL Manchester United. They looked very different from the team of 18 months ago. 4-0 over visitors West Ham United at The Theatre of Dreams was a Statement of Intent to the rest of the league and the world. It is manager Jose Mourino's second season and the fans in the stadium and worldwide are expecting a Championship Season. They must improve at home with 18 more points if they are going to be top of the league.
Some great signings including Man of the Match Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku from Everton stealing the show. The Reds finished 24 points behind champions Chelsea and drawing 15 matches.