It has been three long months without a tinker here or a tweak there, a Saturday morning fret over the fitness of your third-choice forward and the familiar shout of “give it to Theo, he’s my captain!” from the back of the bar.
Yes, the Lions success was impressive, Andy Murray did well to get Bradley Cooper and Gerard Butler jumping up and down in the royal box and Australian batsmen might be falling faster than Liz Hurley inexplicably did for Shane Warne, but we all know that there’s only one sport that really matters, and it’s back.
The return of the Premier League means just one thing – the return of Fantasy Football.
Whether you’re in a mini-league with your mates, an office sweep or just biding your time before that inevitable Gameweek 3 surrender, the opening of the season always brings optimism with it, just as it does for the teams themselves.
And this year, that optimism could act as a comfort blanket for many of the top sides.
Each of last season’s top three goes into the new campaign with a new manager, although in Chelsea’s case the manager’s seat in the dugout will be a familiar one to their man at the helm.
Because six years and seven bosses since he left, Jose Mourinho is back at Stamford Bridge.
The two-time Premier League winner returns to west London no doubt intent on securing the Blues a first league title for four years.
New signings have arrived in the forms of Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, but perhaps more important is the return to the club of forward Romelu Lukaku, who plundered 17 goals whilst on loan at West Bromwich Albion last season.
Mourinho will ensure that Chelsea go close to the title, and if they do they are almost certain to be challenging one or both of the Manchester sides for glory.
At City, new boss Manuel Pellegrini has wasted no time in stamping his authority on the club.
Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic have all arrived at the Etihad Stadium in a blaze of spending designed on eradicating the disappointing ending to Roberto Mancini’s time in charge.
Adding that attacking talents to the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and David Silva makes for a pretty potent, almost frightening mix, and it will take a special team to stop Pellegrini’s men in the forthcoming campaign.
Whether that team is neighbours Manchester United rests on the shoulders of a man stepping into the biggest shoes football had left to fill.
The 2013/14 Premier League season will be the first without the presence of legendary United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, with former Everton manager David Moyes the man who has been turned to in an attempt to continue a dynasty.
The addition of the exciting but raw Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace – a transfer conducted by Ferguson before he left – will be added to before the summer window closes, but more importantly Moyes will need to find a way to channel his predecessor’s influence over a club he lived and breathed.
Moyes’ settling in period promises to be the story of the season, but that isn’t to say that there won’t be plenty more drama throughout the division.
Transfers have dominated matters at the two North London clubs, with Tottenham desperate to keep star man Gareth Bale out of the hands of Real Madrid and Arsenal seeking to add some stardust to their frequently impressive play, with the Gunners setting their sights on the controversy-laden figure of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan will be in the headlines whatever he does, whilst his current club’s headline addition this summer has been the promising goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. Over the park at Everton, Wigan’s relegated but FA Cup winning manager Roberto Martinez has taken over in the wake of Moyes’ departure, giving the Blues a fresher, more vibrant look in the process.
As for the new boys, they’ll enter the division with no qualms at all.
Both Crystal Palace and Hull City were Premier League participants in the past, with their managers Ian Holloway and Steve Bruce having even more recent experience of the top flight.
Only Cardiff City are completely new this elevated, often mad world, but they have a good, calm manager in Malky Mackay who won’t let the surroundings make him dizzy – expect perhaps when they come up against Swansea City in what will be a special Welsh derby.
That will be just one of a thousand headlines to emerge from the season though.
Let the tinkering and tweaking commence, it’s been away too long.
This season we want to be BIGGER & BETTER
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