James Castle is hoping for a Barnet season that doesn't end in a daring last day escape from the drop!
New manager aims to avoid another relegation battle
Much in the same way as I would react to news that the Queen has signed up as the newest member of the JLS official fan club or that Greece had managed to find fifty billion Euros stuffed down the back of the Acropolis, the start of the new season has taken me completely by surprise.
The euphoria of a stunning Euro 2012 final victory by Spain, the amazing achievement by the British competitors in our home Olympics and the suppressed guffaw of, ahem, Scotland's Andy Murray failing to win the Wimbledon men's singles title (still have that Paraguay shirt do you Andy?) has meant that the League Cup defeat to Birmingham seem to hit me like a Sideshow Bob-esque rake into the chops.
This has really put me off my stroke a little as I have had barely any time at all to get worked up into my usual state of hard-bitten cynicism about Barnet's chances this season. A third successive final-day survival, this time courtesy of a shinned half-volley from the club captain after a Burton penalty was clinically dispatched halfway towards the M6 via a passing glider, means that we start our eighth straight season as a League club when we could easily have been celebrating our fourth successive Conference campaign.
New boss Mark Robson beings a wealth of coaching experience at a number of League clubs to the table, and has brought in more or less a new team. Fans have bemoaned the loss of some of their favourites but we have seen in the last few years that application and effort can only take you so far.
Midfield midget Sam Deering arrived on loan from Oxford on a wave of optimism eighteen months ago and was one of the stars of the team that survived following last-day victory against Port Vale in May 2011; his failure to kick on and progress, whether it be through lack of direction, coaching or his own ability, justifies the decision to try new people.
Starting the season with a cup fixture rather than a League Two game has been particularly punishing for new squads trying to gel, particularly Robson's fledgling Bees who have not only had to get to know new team mates but have also had to reacquaint themselves with moving the football millimetres above the grass instead of feet.
Defeat in the first game of the season when it is a league game still gives you another forty-five goes to try and reverse the trend, whereas in the cup you don't get another chance. Taking the 5-1 loss at Championship side Birmingham City at face value it looks like a mauling - taking into account that we kept the ball on the carpet and outplayed the home side for the whole first half, scored one, had one disallowed, one cleared off the line and one back off the crossbar before City equalised, and the last two goals came in injury time, the score-line clearly didn't reflect the passage of play.
Port Vale provide the opposition in the first league game - we seem to always play them either first or last - will be the real test of whether we can better our last three League positions. It's been a relatively happy hunting ground for us in recent seasons, and a repeat of last campaign's 2-1 victory there would be very welcome.
Who knows, it might even ensure we go into the last game of the season without having to avoid ladders and not clad in lucky underpants. And, in some cases, not just lucky underpants.