Season’s greetings

And I’d hoped Ray Stubbs had gone back to teaching geography . . .

Now that it's the Prem break, what do you think so far? I'm still trying to get my tongue round Extra Sensory Perception, which is what I call the new channel to which I have paid a fortune, just as I paid a fortune to Sultana, whose proper name I never got straight either - then they were gorn.

On day one of ESPN, their cameras swooped us down long corridors, swished us through impressive doorways and then - whoosh - into the post-match studio where, so they announced triumphantly, all the Big Football Interviews will take place this season. The red squirrels outside my window here in the Lake District have more room in their nut box than ESPN presenters. And one of them, dear God, has turned out to be Ray Stubbs, whom I hoped had gone back to geography teaching. His return is good news for Alan Shearer. By comparison, he might turn out to be charismatic.

Vermilion, that's another new name I'm struggling with - the Belgian defender Arsenal have signed. I'll call him that till the experts settle down and decide on its proper pronunciation. He looks good, though, another smart find for Arsène, while Fergie will come to regret buying Antonio Valencia.As for Michael Owen, Ferguson can pretend he never actually signed him by not playing him. Who? Wee Mickey? Never heard of him.

Weird things are happening to Big Sam and Steve Bruce - two stout, true English yeomen, straight out of central casting. In post-match interviews, their faces are taking on extra bulges and crevices, growing bigger and stranger as they talk. Are they auditioning for a BBC Dickens adaptation, or have the cameramen stuck on distorting lenses, just for a laugh? By the end of the season, sensitive viewers might avert their eyes to avoid nightmares.

Two big talking points already: the hooligans at West Ham and Eduardo diving. Both are hardy annuals, early-season diversions, which allow the newspaper pundits to unload all their self-righteous twaddle: back to the dark ages, what are the authorities doing, disgusting photographs, bloody foreigners coming over here, cheating bastards, honest British lads, why oh why?

The real footie stories, however, have proved rather unusual, notably Tottenham Hotspur on top of the League. While dancing in the fields, my mind did go back to the beginning of the 1974-75 season when Carlisle United were top after winning their first three games (against Chelsea, Spurs and Boro, so not dummies), then it all collapsed, and CUFC were never heard of again.

Spurs' position is interesting because this time last season they were at the bottom, losing every game. From experience, we know it don't mean nuffink. They'll end up mid-table. As ever.

Nice to see Burnley having a half-decent start, joining the other Bs at the top table. Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers were together in the first-ever football league in 1888, and have been all together in the top league on only, er, so many occasions. Look, I haven't got time to look up the records, the season has just started, so much important stuff to think about.

Stuff such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all losing games early doors, which is excellent news for the rest of the Prem. Man United, now without Ronaldo and Tévez, don't look a match for the awesomes of Barça and Real Madrid. (Except, have you noticed, Ronaldo is so fat.)

So, let's do some blue-skies thinking. Yes, Man City, the hope for us all in fun, stories and laughs in the season ahead . .

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 07 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Meet the new progressives