Okay. It's been a long, long time. There are reasons why I've not been opining on footy for a while.
1. I was out the country and didn't fancy guessing how things were going back here.
2. By the time I got back it was pretty much done and dusted and you lot hate it when I write about the golf or the tennis.
3. I have had a personal bereavement - and apart Boro not making it to the top tier, my Dad passed away n all.
4. I was going to write a blog to coincide with the start of the new season but frankly I was too excited about the Aussies truly wonderful capitulation that I believe we should have postponed the start of the Premier League, collectively jumped on a bus, all come down to London and found as many bar staff as we could and pointed at them, yelling "Ha-haaaa!"
Fifthly, the beginning of the Premier League was already being hyped up like a bloated floating corpse on the Tees estuary and I didn't want to buy into it.
It felt like the same old, same old. Chelsea or Citeh to win, unless Van Gaal could arbitrarily arrange his overly expensive trinkets into summat resembling a team. Arsenal arrive neck-deep in optimisim only to be turned over by a bit of hard work and organisation. Liverpool keep slapping the cash around like a jilted bride indulging in retail therapy in order to forget about the guy that left.
And yet, it is footy we're talking about. And although come the end of the season there'll be the usual suspects in the top four, and a plucky upstart scraping into the Europa League, and the Stadium of Light will be emptying out by half-time every other weekend, the beginning has been a little web of intrigue all its own.
And, as ever, the spider at the centre of the web is the smirking, preening narcissist Jose Mi Amor Mourinho. It can't last but for those of us whose favourite psychiatrist is Schaden Freud, it's been a hugely enjoyable beginning.
First, the draw with Swansea and the scapegoating of medical staff; then the hammering at Citeh. In the first instance, the referee's decisions were beneath comment (i.e, correct); the second was a 'fake result'. It must be very frustrating for Mrs Mourinho if and when she has a genuine orgasm.
Of more long term interest was the substitution of one John Terry at the Etihad. Mourinho's rationale was wholly logical. Navas, Sterling and Aguero vs JT is the least fair fight since Goliath told David that slings were not allowed. Indeed Aguero seemed to be thriving on the Sterling Silva service.
Needless to say as Terry sat on the bench you could almost see his skull rattling like a pan-lid on a pot of boiling potatoes. Meanwhile Costa, a man who probably has to turn all the mirrors in his house to face the wall just to avoid punching himself, stormed around with a bandaged head like Dr David Banner after a particularly irritating call to his insurance company.
All this means that there's one of these early-season doomsday scenarios looming "What's gone wrong with Chelsea?" Well, they've lost a couple of games. And a couple of doctors. And a sense of reality, if Jose's perceptions are to be taken literally. But this is not a crisis. It's just quite funny. Enjoy. Here's two blokes doing just that having heard about the Etihad result.
(I can't tell you how hard it was to find a pic of Wenger smiling)
On Thursday the final test begins and I'd like to enjoy that as much as the last two. Like Chelsea, the Aussies will bounce back at some point but while England continue to bowl against the biggest load of nickers since Fagin patrolled the streets of Dickensian London, let's not give 'em the chance of a sliver of self-respect.
What's been most enthralling about the cricket - and yes I have really enjoyed it as much as any sporting event since London 2012 - is the fact that England are relying on the flair and exuberance of young lads to carry them forward.
Root continues to taunt like one of them ridiculous twelve-year old wunderkinds that occasionally get on to Countdown and humiliate middle-aged wearers of Pringle sweaters and floral frocks. Stokes flings himself about like Boris Becker in his pomp (and if you see his courtside at a Djokovic match you'll never believe how impressive that once was). Wood and Moeen frolic about like giddy lambs, unafraid of the perils that have dogged their ancestors.
And meanwhile Broad, Anderson, Cook and Bell beam like grandparents newly-enlivened by the arrival of delirious toddlers. And all of this under the inebriate eyes of a nation of sun-kissed revellers totally unused to such splendidness. Except we hammered them two years ago. and then four years before that. In fact they're not much cop. 'Kin brilliant isn't it?
Oh... and PS
Premier League champions? Chelsea - I know, I know.
FA Cup? Everton.
League Cup (or whatever the hell they call it now)? Liverpool
Chumps League Qualifiers? Citeh, ManU, Arsenal, bold eh?
Europa League? Spurs, Everton.
Going dahn? Sunderland (by Christmas), Bournemouth, Newcastle.