BY MARK GODFREY

So, it’s finally back, riding to the rescue saving me and countless thousands from the hideousness of gardening for the sake of gardening and soul-shredding visits to Ikea. The nation’s, if not the world’s, favourite soap opera returned at the weekend ready to divide, entertain, horrify, demoralise and delight us in equal measure. There’s been quite a few changes since the curtain fell on the old season. Taggart lookalike, Sir Alex Ferguson, has shuffled off to enjoy his Racing Post in peace without the fear of Wayne Rooney knocking on his door to complain about something trivial. Fellow miserable Weegie, David Moyes, swapped the delightful suburbs of Liverpool to take over at Salford’s leading Premier League club and found himself immediately engulfed in the daily shit-storm that particular role attracts. Oh, and Jose Mourinho is back.

We lost Jamie Carragher and Paul Scholes to retirement as well as David Beckham plc, who moves into a new phase of his business career. If anyone’s really bothered, Phil Neville also packed it all in, thank fuck.

The summer was dominated by the endless media coverage of the non-transfers of Bale, Rooney and Suarez and quite frankly I’m not sure I ever want to see any of their faces again considering i’m starting to see them in my sleep.

Some things haven’t changed one iota, however. Arsene Wenger continually fails to grasp the concept that it will take more than a sexy French accent to persuade players to play for him. Brendan Rodgers still has the charisma of a fish finger and prices for the average man or woman to go and see their teams continue to spiral out of any sense of moral and financial control.

Apart from the football itself, what am I looking forward to? Well, my eyes are trained on the North East because it can only be a matter of time before Paolo Di Canio has an almighty meltdown and finds himself being carted away by the men in white coats when Sunderland predictably underperform. Even more fun could be had up the road at St.James’ Park. Clown prince, Joe Kinnear, has reappeared on the scene ready to undermine Alan Pardew at every opportunity with his outstanding ability to make himself look like a complete berk. The Geordies, already at tipping point over the Wonga sponsorship debacle, are likely to revolt if the owner continues to do whatever he can to run the club without the merest regard for the ‘customers’ who have stuck with them through thin and thinner. Watch this space.

And what am I dreading? Simple, the TV coverage. Sky have now adopted some studio audience-based set up that had me grasping desperately for the remote control as soon as the on-field action had ended and BT Sport has it’s Liverpool wankfest with the achingly boring Michael Owen and desperate-to-be-intellectual David James and his mop-top-hairshop haircut. It is also time to say enough is enough to all the analysis and tactics bores. Stop taking the fun and spontaneity out of the game for Christ’s sake. I don’t care how big your giant iPad is and what you can do with it. You’re not big and you’re not clever.

But whether you love it or hate it (and we all love it really), thank god for the Premier League and football in general, because lads, it could be worse; we could all be at the garden centre looking for water features.

Mind how you go.

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