New season’s greetings

It could be my jaded, disappointed mind, still suffering from post-World Cup stress symptoms, but all the Prem players look more lumpen, clumsy, slow, leaden than they did last season. None of them seems able to move gracefully, create cleverly or strike the ball properly. And I'm not just thinking of Wayne.

It could be my London telly. In the Lake District, I bought this new flat-screen thing specially for the World Cup, and a lot of good it did, but at least everything was clear and dramatic. Now, back in NW5, I have returned to my prehistoric steam model. The news here is that Ed Miliband has moved into the next street. He's been spotted at the Indian takeaway. Or is it Thai? Only been here 46 years - but in our house we don't do takeaways. Or eat in the street. So common.

On the ancient telly, I have spotted Capello, still with us, alas, despite being rumbled. Sky was in raptures because last Saturday he managed
three Prem games in one day. "The England manager is here," exclaimed the commentator. "And watching!" Well, what else would he be doing? Selling programmes? He always looks neat but detached, cool but vacant, doing nothing. I do like managers who make the odd note. Perhaps he has little people, hidden away, who do his note-making for him, just as he has even littler people who ring his players for him.

Mancini has had his hair cut, looks years younger, and has given up his scarf, but is now wearing some sort of frock coat. It won't catch on, Roberto. On the fashion front, Alex Song of Arsenal is leading, hair-wise, with his grey curls. I thought, heh up, Arsène said he would never go for older players, but he's only gone and signed Ena Sharples.

Torres turns out not to be a blond. Fooled me for years. Even on my vintage telly, I can now see he is dark-haired. Perhaps a natural mousy. I did enjoy Joey Barton's tache. Shame he has shaved it off. He was a dead ringer for the young Peter Mandelson.

The good news is that Joe Hart looks like a half-decent England goalie. Phew, only taken three decades. I bet now loads of others will come along. I am reserving judgement on this season's new names in the Prem. Most of them are foreign, so won't be much help to the England squad. Marc Albrighton is English and appears promising, but raw and naive even though he has been with Villa since the age of eight. What do they do in training?

Spurs have hit their normal stride at once, bang on form, going great guns, just as we always expect - that is to say, totally, madly, badly inconsistent. Why do I bother?

But at least the commentators have given up describing the Prem as the "Best League in the World". You can sense them hesitating when the old cliché rises in their gob, then correcting themselves. "That's why it is . . . er . . . the most dramatic league in the world!" said Sky's Ian Darke. "Already this season we have had one sensation . . ." And what do you think that was? "Martin O'Neill going!" Gawd, I can now hardly remember him. Been a long season already.

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 06 September 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The Pope on Trial