Firstly, please cast your eyes to the Twitter feed for two new tidbits. Back? OK......
With the disappointment of the FA Cup Final defeat still lingering in the mind, the chance to start the season on a high note with a large helping of revenge and a side order of optimism is ready for the taking when MTU take on 'The Sharks' of Chonburi FC this Sunday at the Supalachasalai Stadium.
You know Chonburi well, I've introduced them and discussed their style of play against us. You also know Dale. So with little left to do, we threw some questions at each other and invited other fans to throw some random musings into the mix.
1) Apart from watching our mighty Ashes victory, how did you spend time in close season?
Dale: What close season?! I've been following the Vision Chonburi League and ensuring that I find enough (hopefully) interesting items of news about Chonburi FC to keep my website regularly updated. However, the extra spare time I've had at the weekends means I've been able to do a lot more reading and make frequent visits to the cinema.
Me - It was easier this year wasn't it? Close season has been much shorter. I've been doing all kinds of things including teaching, studying, following the English game and catching up on a few classic works I've never read like: 'The Iliad' and 'The Turning of the Screw'.
2) What's the biggest news to come out of [your club] in the close season?
Dale: The relocation to the "new" stadium has to be the biggest development. Closely followed by the announcement that we'll more than likely be on the move again shortly.
Me: Obviously the biggest news is the departure of Rene. That was the only real shock. Most of the other comings and goings we knew to expect.
3) Hand on heart, how do you think your club will perform in 2011?
Dale: I predicted that we'd finish forth last pre-season so I'm going to say the same again. I hope we can make a fist of defending the FA Cup and give a good account of ourselves in the AFC competition. Although our group in the latter is quite a tough one. A lot of our fans are convinced we'll sail through the qualifiers but I'm not so sure.
Me: That's difficult to say because the personnel have changed so much. Some good players have left, more will go later on. Yet we've also had some players coming in that, on paper, look just as good. A lot will come down to how those players settle in.
Put it this way: I think 99% of other clubs would happily swap places with us by the time the end of the season comes around.Yet from our own view, we've set such ourselves high standards that it's almost impossible to meet them. We can't keep winning the title year after year and it's only getting harder to defend it. Sooner or later some other team has to win it. What I'm saying is I don't expect us to win the title again, but I expect us to have a very good try and a good run in the ACL or AFC Cup.
4) And who do you think will win the TPL?
Dale: Army United.
Me: Well last season I said it would be a race between us and BG, and I predicted BG to win.
This season I'm saying it's a race between us and Buriram PEA, and I think Buriram will edge it for various reasons. I just hope that all the talking is about the football and not about crowd trouble, terrible scheduling (though that's started already!), missing footballs or bizarre decisions by match officials.
5) Which five people connected to Thai football would you invite to a dinner party? You may also invite one other celebrity guest who has nothing to do with football and/or Thailand.
Me: Rene, just to keep things interesting (and make sure everybody else is behaving well :-) )
Newin - hopefully he'd leave a good tip and I could get to see what he's really thinking.
Zesh Rehman, hopefully as a Muslim he might know how to cook up some delicious Muslim food.
Marak, the Nonthaburi goalkeeper who's always an entertainer.
Worawi, to keep us informed about any changes in the menu.
Dale:Tor Chittinand from the Bangkok Post, Newin Chidchob, Worawi Makudi, Steve Darby, Theerathep Winothai and Danny Baker.
6) The World and his wife are predicting who will win the 2011 TPL title and who will be relegated. Just to be different, who do you think will finish 7th and 13th?
Me: 7th - Police United. They're improving slowly.
13th - Khoen Kean. They should hold their own.
Dale: Thai Port will finish seventh and Khon Kaen thirteenth.
7) If push came to shove, would you rather [your English team] won promotion or [your Thai team] won the TPL?
Me: Any sort of: "Your English club Vs your Thai club" questions are a bit like asking a parent which of their kids they love most :-)
But being objective, I'd say Saints to get promoted because each season we spend in the lower leagues is keeping us underwater and damaging our reputation and potential. MTU can miss out on the TPL and live to fight next year, but Saints not getting promoted is permanent damage.
Dale: After too long in the third division wilderness, I want Oldham to get promoted above all else this, and every other, season.
8) What is the most pointless piece of tat that is available as official merchandise in your club shop?
Me; I can honestly say most merchandise is worthwhile but I think some of the trinkets like paper clips look a bit pointless.
Dale: As with Muang Thong, most of the stuff we sell is very worthwhile. However, I'm not sure I'd want tho be the proud owner of a Chonburi FC watch!
And the random questions.....
Will the combined total of minutes played by Drogba, Terry and Lampard vs Thailand be more or less than the number of TPL fixture changes this season?
Me: An astrophysicist is needed to calculate the probabilities for this question.
What catastrophic effects would occur should Buriram PEA & Buriram FC ever play on the same day?
Me: It's all stated in the Book of Genesis
What do the Wellington Phoenix need more - an creative attacking midfielder who can pass, or a specialist right back?
Me: They need someone to tell me who the heck they are first!
Who will give us more laffs this year: Worawi or Sepp?
Me: Worawi, Sepp actually does real damage to the world game.
How far will MTU and Chonburi go in Asia this season?
Me: I think both teams have the potential to reach the final.