After a summer going ‘cold turkey’ with only women’s soccer for comfort, football junkies can once again get their fix, as Cardiff City kick off a new football season for Welsh football fans this weekend.
There’s an exciting season in store, with Swansea City beginning their Premier League campaign against big-spending Manchester City a week later.
Here’s our guide to what’s happened over the summer, and what you can expect between now and May.
Despite nearly throwing away a three-goal lead in the playoff final at Wembley, the Swans became the first Welsh team in history (or did they?) to reach the Premier League.
Last season’s displays of silky skills mean top flight football is less than a week away for Swansea, and the city cannot wait for a slice of the top flight pie.
But a black cloud looms over the Liberty Stadium in the lead up to the big kick off that threatens to rain on their Premiership party. The leader of Swansea Council’s Labour group, a closet Bluebirds fan, has had the gall to say the Swans, who currently pay only a ‘peppercorn’ rent for the ground predominantly built by Swansea Council, should share the wealth after their £90 million promotion.
Swansea City chiefs, with their short arms barely able to reach into their long pockets, have ignored cries to pay the council back for their earlier generosity.
There have been plenty of comings and goings down at the Liberty Stadium this summer, as all and sundry have been linked with a move to the Premier League new boys.
At the beginning of the summer the Jacks hurriedly panic-bought Watford goal machineDanny Graham for a club record £3.5 million, despite the 25-year-old being relatively unproven at top flight level.
Other new recruits to Brendan Rodgers’ black and white army come in the diminutive form of the much-travelled former Cardiff City winger Wayne Routledge and, direct from Middlesbrough, Leroy Lita from Fame. Swansea have also managed to bring in defender Steven Caulker from Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur. Rodgers has also moved to secure two goalkeepers – José Moreira and Dutch international Michel Vorm.
But it’s the players who have headed for the exit door which may cause Swansea fans the most concern.
Contract rebel Darren Pratley, who had refused to sign a new contract throughout last season and then got on his knees and begged for a new deal when the Swans won promotion on May 30, was shown the door and taken in by Premier League side Bolton Wanderers.
Stranger still, star stopper Dorus De Vries, a relative no-one when the Swans signed him from Dunfermline Athletic, opted to leave the Liberty Stadium on a free transfer to seemingly become second fiddle to current Wales number one Wayne Hennessy at Wolves.
The odd move has seen the Swans play a summer transfer fandango with Nottingham Forest for their ‘Northern Irish’ goalkeeper Lee Camp. The Jacks have made a series of silly offers for the keeper, upping their bid by around 50p each time, before eventually losing their patience and instead buying two new keepers.
With the lack of stellar signings down in Swansea, the Premier League new boys will be hoping the handful of players (mainly midgets) who fired them into the top tier with an eye-catching brand of attacking football can do it on the World’s biggest stage.
Something about the Swans’ current roster of mainly foreign nobodies, who can outperform their British counterparts simply by steering clear of fags, booze and greasy spoons, means they may well be suited to the lower echelons of the Premier League.
The bookies may not have faith, but all those on the south coast are quietly confident they can spring a surprise on football’s big boys.
Welsh News Not prediction – 15th: A rollercoaster season
lies ahead for the Swans, but their stylish football and win-at-all-costs
attacking attitude at home should be enough to see them survive this term.
It’s been a summer of change for the Bluebirds, with drastic alterations to the club’s playing staff and management.
Dave Jones, the least popular man in South Wales, was relieved of his position with Watford boss Malky MacKay replacing him in the Cardiff City Stadium hot seat.
With around 50 loan players returning to their parent clubs at the end of last season, and a similar number seeing their contracts expire, MacKay’s first job was to haggle and put together a brand new cut-price squad on a shoestring budget for the serial Championship playoff failures.
But the Scot has proved a better wheeler and dealer than Del Boy, convincing no-less than nine players to come and play for Cardiff City.
Without doubt the most popular acquisitions will be the new look front line of Kenny Miller and record breaking Bluebirds goal scorer Robert Earnshaw.Bluebirds hero and gypsy traveller Robert Earnshaw has returned to Cardiff after spells in the West Midlands, Norwich, Derby and Nottingham, while Scotland international Kenny Miller, an absolute bargain at £600,000, joins from Turkish side Bursaspor.
Fans hope the self-styled Zambian Prince and Miller can fire the Bluebirds to Premier League after a number of consecutive near misses – and banish porky Jon Parkin to the substitutes bench.
Among the other new arrivals is the Slovak and headline writers’ dream Filip Kiss – signed purely as a gesture to the local media, following previous strained relations between previous gaffer Dave Jones and the press.
Fellow new faces including Andrew Taylor, Craig Conway, Rudy Gestede, Aron Gunnarsson, Don Cowie and Joe Mason were all picked up on buy-one-get-one-free supermarket offers, Groupon deals or as freebies in boxes of cereals. Meanwhile mouthy Scouser Anthony Gerrard, the less-talented cousin of England star Steven, has returned from a loan spell at Hull City last season.
However greedy Cardiff City fans are still desperate to know whether prodigal son Craig Bellamy, seemingly surplus to requirements at Manchester City, will return to his hometown club.
Last year the Bluebirds pulled off the transfer coup of the century by enticing one time Wales captain Bellamy to the club, keeping details of the controversial loan move – most notably the debt-ridden club’s contribution to Bellamy’s £85,000-a-week wages – under wraps.
Welsh News Not prediction – 5th: Cardiff City will do what they do to their fans every season – tease and flatter to deceive. Expect a flying start where the Bluebirds will go on a two-month winning streak, only to endure a typically bleak winter where they will fall off the pace and settle for a place in the playoffs, and ultimately heartache.