Hello. Many of us this weekend will be celebrating the return of another season of Premiership football. The colourfully-dressed faithful will gather in their thousands to cheer the glorious bravery and skill of our finest sporting heroes, dancing and twirling with dexterous abandon on hallowed rectangles of greensward. Many, of course, will begin the season with hopes of winning silverware or gaining promotion, only to find those hopes cruelly dashed by injuries, poor defending, and a total lack of creativity in midfield.
Whilst the Chelseas and Man. Uniteds of this world can buy their way to success, it is the managers and players of the less successful clubs to whom our compassion and attention should truly be directed. Liverpool, for one, begin the season without talented Xabi Alonso in midfield, and their spiritual figurehead, Steven Gerrard, may find himself provoked and villified by opposing fans, despite being cleared of affray during the Summer months. And isn't this rather as Jesus must have felt, nailed to the Cross on Golgotha for committing no crime, as the crowds jeered him?
One of Gerrard's disciples, John Doran, certainly couldn't walk by on the other side of the road, as Manchester United fan Marcus McGee refused to change the music in that Southport nightclub last December. It is, of course, debatable whether hitting a Manchester United fan is a crime under English civil law, and as we enter this hopeful period, perhaps we should all try to show the same courage which Mr Doran demonstrated in that Lancashire nightclub, when he "could not resist following through with an elbow into [Mr McGee's] face". Admitting our errors, both to ourselves and others, is one of the most crucial challenges that we face in life, and if we could all aspire to Mr Gerrard's contrition and humility, then perhaps we can begin to find a little personal salvation as Gabby Logan and Richard Keys introduce those tough away fixtures and mouth-watering local derbies.