So today we will be either trekking our way to North London or settling down in front of Sky Sports for the opening game of the season probably with more hope than expectation in our hearts.
And despite the uneven spread of results across pre-season I believe the team is ready although we’ll find out for the first time today exactly how Slaven sees things.
I sat down in his office a few days back and we caught up on old times. It was great to meet up again and I was struck again by his intelligence and absolute love of the game.
Sunday’s game could hardly be tougher. Arsenal are a terrific team and I know that Slav has a great regard for Arsene Wenger but our man may just have one or two surprises up his sleeve.
Let’s remember though that we finished last season as one of – if not THE – most out of form team in the Premier League and there’s a confidence building job to be done as well as a new style of play to be introduced.
Whatever some may think, we now have a better squad than we have had for several years and I’ve got everything crossed that we can take the Gunners by surprise.
First and foremost I’m a fan and always see the best side of things but I hope I’m also a realist and the truth is we have one hell of a job on our hands.
We are about 10/1 outsiders to win the game and it’s around 5/1 for the draw with the Arsenal well odds-on to win. I think those odds are a bit over the top but I honestly can’t tip us to win.
A draw would be fantastic but the main thing is that we go there and give them a real game, put in a performance and come out with our heads held high.
What we can’t afford to happen is to get battered because that sets up a mental reaction which is hard to shake off. I think Slav will have them in good shape and that we’ll give ’em a game.
But the fans have to give Slav a chance. It could take him a couple of years to really put his mark on this team.
I’m sure we’ll be safe and mid table but let’s keep the expectancy levels down a bit and give the man a real crack of the whip.