The Premier League is back, the transfer window is in full swing and a fourth-round spot in the FA Cup is already secure for Huddersfield Town.
A couple of new signings as well, and everything is looking rosy in the Town garden.
After the Cup break – and a successful one for Town, it has to be said – the brutal edge of the Premier League is now here again.
West Ham United arrive at the John Smith’s Stadium with frankly an awful record in this part of the world, having lost 10 of their last 12 visits to Town.
But what has fascinated me from all the stats flying around is that since Slaven Bilic left, from the data collected we now know the West Ham team have collectively covered 7km more per game than they did under the previous manager.
There are fine margins, but all the information told us that West Ham were bottom of the ‘tackles made’ table and bottom in terms of distance run - two of the basic fundamentals of winning any football match.
David Moyes has gone in and, while he would not have been my first choice as manager, I think the appointment of Stuart Pearce as assistant is probably exactly what the West Ham dressing room needed.
Somebody with some intensity, somebody who the players know, if they answer him back, that he is likely to put them through the wall!
In these days of political correctness, where coaches are supposedly being told they shouldn’t be raising their voices to make a point, it’s a reality in sport at any level, today or in the past, that if you lose the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ then you lose your edge.
Only three defeats from 11 home games for Town in the Premier League and I am sure David Wagner will have that ‘Eye of the Tiger’ from every single player this weekend.
If I was having a bet, I would be backing the draw - 0-0 or 1-1 seems to be the place to be. At Sky Bet we are going 6/1 for 0-0 and 9/2 for 1-1.
A lot of fans – not just at Town but at other clubs as well – have told me over the years that they back their team to get relegated at big prices.
It’s a bit bizarre but certainly true, but the theory is that if the team do go down then while it’s been a terrible season, at least the bet pays for the season-ticket for the following campaign.
I feel a bit like that when I oppose Town – as I do mostly when they are on the road.
I do back against them away from home, even though I’m delighted when I lose – as I did at Southampton and Watford most recently.
Everyone has been talking about VAR, which got a soft introduction to be fair, with very little controversy to talk about.
But there are a couple of areas worth noting, in my opinion, about the Video Assistant Referee system.
One thing which has been my concern for a while is communication with the fans.
While it’s fine sitting at home watching on TV, with all the replays and being told what’s going on, when you are actually in a packed ground you have literally no idea what’s happening when they go to VAR.
That’s particularly so if the incident in question has happened at the other end of the ground.
I would like to see the Fourth Official used, as he doesn’t seem to have too much to do these days apart from keeping managers in their respective coaching boxes.
It would be very easy for him to stand in front of a fixed camera by the tunnel, or even go onto the tannoy, and announce that VAR is looking at, for instance, a potential foul in the penalty area.
It’s a 5sec announcement, but it’s enough.
If fans are going to have to wait a minute and a half, or two minutes, for a decision on an incident which they can’t watch back, then it’s not fair on the people who have paid their attendance money to be left in the dark.
They need to be told what’s going on and the Fourth Official is the most practical way of doing that.
While VAR is being used in only a few games at the moment, it seems most likely that every game in the Premier League will soon have the system.
One of the changes noted in Italy is that stoppage time has now become eight or nine minutes.
In face, Chelsea’s Antonio Conte was complaining only this week in the EFL Cup game against Arsenal, that there were only five minutes of added time.
It’s something to keep an eye on, but don’t be surprised if ‘Fergie Time’, or should we say ‘Wagner Time’, gets significantly longer in future.
I will sign off by saying let’s keep fingers crossed for a Town win against West Ham this weekend. My money is on the draw, but let’s hope I lose!